Social Language
A child who struggles with pragmatics or social language may have trouble with some or many of the following types of communication skills:
 Using Language for Different Purposes

       greeting (e.g., hello, goodbye)

       informing (e.g., I'm going to get a cookie)

       demanding (e.g., Give me a cookie)

       promising (e.g., I'm going to get you a cookie)

       requesting (e.g., I would like a cookie, please)

  Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation, such as

       talking differently to a baby than to an adult

       giving background information to an unfamiliar listener

       speaking differently in a classroom than on a playground

   Following rules for conversations and storytelling, such as:

       taking turns in conversation

       introducing topics of conversation

       staying on topic

       rephrasing when misunderstood

       how to use verbal and nonverbal signals

       how close to stand to someone when speaking

       how to use facial expressions and eye contact

*Adapted from

So How Do I Help My Child?
-Help your child by modeling correct communication behaviors.  Often children who struggle with social language skills need to be told directly the correct way to communicate or act in a given situation.

-Role play out various situations with your child, such as,  asking a friend over to play, or ordering at a restaurant.  Practicing phone conversations is great too!

-Keep in mind that some children with social language difficulties often see things as black or white.  They need to be taught the "grey" areas.  For example, we teach children from a young age that, "you never tell a lie".  However, there are often circumstances when blurting out your true feelings is rude and hurtful.  For example, when a friend asks if you like his new shirt he is wearing, but you don't like it, what do you do?  Most of us would just let him know that we like his shirt, so that we don't hurt his feelings.  A child that doesn't have this natural understanding of social rules, might just blurt out, "I don't like it.  It's ugly".   These children need to be directly taught the exceptions to the rules.  

-Flexibility:  My dad sent my off to college with a saying he had posted up at his office, "Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be BENT out of shape".   I've thought of that saying often over the years.  Teaching flexibility can be tricky. 

-Prepare your child for the possibility that something he/she is looking forward to might not work out. "I know you are looking forward to going to the toy store this afternoon, but if your dad has to go into work, then we won't be able to go.  We will pick another time to go, and we can put it on the calendar".

-Conversation skills: Practice having your child practice these main skills: 
1. Initiating a conversation, or saying something like, "Hi, how are you?". 
2.  Maintaining a conversation and topic maintenance, such as keeping the conversation/talking going over several turns.  
3.  Turn taking - letting his/her conversation partner have equal time to talk and contribute to the conversation/talking time. 
4. Ending a conversation - such as "it was nice talking to you".  Keep in mind what is age appropriate.  Most young elementary students won't formally end a conversation.  

-Perspective taking: Work with your child on seeing the importance of showing interest in what others like.