Pragmatics (social skills) is the effective and appropriate communication in relation to varying social and situational contexts, intent, and conversational rules. Pragmatic delays may also affect academic performance. In the classroom, your child may not demonstrate his true ability if he does not ask/answer questions, ask for help, sustain attention, provide eye contact, or follow directions. In social situations, a child’s pragmatic social skills is reflected in her ability to comment, initiate, maintain, and take turns in conversation, ask/answer questions, greet others, request, and direct others verbally.
How can I help my child?
- At dinner, play “pass the question game.” Whomever is holding an object (e.g., ketchup bottle) asks a question to the person next to him or her and passes the object around until everyone has a chance to ask and answer the question.
- When your child is talking, model ways to politely interrupt by saying “excuse me” or “May I please interrupt?”
- Model polite ways to order such as “May I please have…?”
- Model bridging phrases to change topics: “Bye the way” “Speaking of…” “On a different subject” “That reminds me of..”
- Ask your child if he can be flexible and talk about multiple solutions to a problem.
- Discuss how to greet a parent when entering and exiting their house: “Hello Mrs. X”
- Model flexible language such as: “No big deal, Let’s trade, Maybe next time, Let’s compromise.”
- Ask your child to rate a problem as “big” or “small” and how they can calm down (e.g., going to a safe place, breathing, walking away, drawing, whistling, and singing.)
- Model questions rather than demands: “Could you please…”
- Play the “social fake” game at dinner. Each person talks about something while everyone else shows interest (e.g., smiling, nodding, eye contact). Whomever maintains the “social fake” for the longest time, wins the game.
- Expose your child to many different types of social experiences and play dates.
- Tell your child that he can talk to you about anything that’s bothering him.
- Be specific with your questions: “What was the silliest thing that happened at school today?”