Social Skills

Developing social skills has a direct impact on the outcome of our lives. Social skills are the building blocks that allow us to continue learning, function in society and have successful social relationships. We need to understand what is happening in situations before we can successfully function within them. This understanding requires social skills.

What are Social Skills?

SCIENTIFIC definition: “Socially acceptable learned behaviors that enable a person to interact with others in ways that elicit positive responses and assist the person in avoiding negative responses.”

Elliott, Racine & Busse, 1995, Best practices in school psychology

(3rd ed., pp.1009-1020). Washington DC: NASP.

In simpler terms, social skills are learned skills that we use to have successful social interactions.

Two boys talking

Social skills include, but are not limited to:

  • making eye contact
  • listening
  • paying attention
  • reacting appropriately to situations
  • communicating verbally and non-verbally
  • interpreting social cues
  • reacting to social cues
  • understanding the thoughts of others
  • and more...

We use these social skills throughout the day, everyday, as we interact with people.

Interaction examples:

  • having breakfast with THE family
  • going to THE bus stop
  • running errands
  • school classes, lunch, hall time
  • going to THE doctor
  • riding in the car
  • going to THE library
  • being with family and friends
  • swimming lessons
  • talking on THE phone

From this list, you can see that basically almost everything we do in life includes some type of social interaction. Our day is spent executing one social skill after another.

Social Skills are Embedded in Life and Enable Us to Participate and Interact

Social skills enable us to actively participate in society. These skills are a prerequisite to participation in daily life.

Functioning in daily life requires the use of social skills from infancy on. We need to develop the skills to gain attention, have a conversation, play, understand another’s feelings, deal with conflict, experience emotion, understand THE perspective of others, participate appropriately, and more…

Social skills are so pervasive in our lives that every situation, skill, and activity includes a multitude of skills.

Teaching multiple skills simultaneously mimics life.

Teaching each skill in isolation is very difficult and time consuming. Because social skills are not used in isolation, they should not be taught in isolation, but within the context of other skills: “real life”.

Skills in isolation or “in real life”? Look at the simple example below.

Compare and contrast the two scenarios. You see that teaching in isolation is very dry and robotic. Teaching in the real life scenario is more motivational and more generalized.

Teaching in isolation:

  • Teach a child to look at you by stating “look at me”. Once the child looks at you, reward with a reinforcer.
  • Teach a child emotions by showing a picture of a sad child and asking “why is she sad?” When the child answers correctly, reward with a reinforcer.
  • Teach a child a motor skill by stating “do this” and modeling the behavior. Upon success, reward with a reinforcer.

Teaching in real life:

  • Teach a child to look at you by requesting the child to look at you when you are involved in an engaging activity, like playing blocks or coloring. When the child looks, respond with “do you want to play?”
  • Teach a child that a girl is sad by showing a child the sad person in real situations, like falling down and skinning a knee or breaking a crayon and crying.
  • Teach a child motor skills by stating “do this” during a game of simon says.

Learning happens in life.

Children learn social skills by playing in real life. Watch Me Learn Video Modeling utilizes play scenarios to effectively teach social skills.

Play requires social skills.

EXAMPLE: Children are playing a game of basketball. Within the game:

  1. Speech: talk to each other, saying “pass it”, “shoot”, “missed”.
  2. Interact with peers.
  3. Take turns
  4. Share.
  5. Show empathy: Someone falls and A child offers to help.
  6. NO VERB. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Theory of mind: recognizes how another person feels.


Social skills learned gave this little girl the ability to participate in circle time at school!

“My daughter is one of your biggest success stories. Whenever she has mastered a skill with her ABA therapist, it is almost always precipitated by one of these videos. She is the total visual learner. Her latest accomplishment is the start of integration into Kindergarten. She has never wanted to participate in circle time in preschool. She loves the circle time segment in School Days and now loves to participate with her class. HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT and I give credit to these videos and the wonderful ABA therapist we have. Please keep them coming as I wouldn’t know where to begin doing this myself........”

Diane Murphy

Mother of daughter with autism

How Video Modeling Successfully Teaches Social Skills

Video modeling is a visual teaching method that occurs by watching a video of someone modeling a targeted behavior or skill and then imitating the behavior/skill watched.

Definition: Video Modeling

To users, Video Modeling is a simple and effective teaching tool that motivates children to learn through a fun and enticing visual medium.

To learn more about Video Modeling please visit our Video Modeling pages.

Video modeling teaches multiple skills simultaneously. Modeling a behavior or skill is done within the context of a real situation. Not only does this method of teaching address multiple skills at once, but it is very motivating to the child.

EXAMPLE: A game of building blocks teaches:

  • turn taking
  • colors
  • motor skills
  • balancing skills
  • language
  • play skills
  • fun

Unfortunately, social skills are often a core deficit for children with developmental delays, special needs children and children with autism.
Social skills need to be taught to these children because they do not learn them naturally.

Video Modeling is considered the most effective intervention to teach social skills.

  • Children learn from play, and play requires the execution of many social skills. Video modeling can and should be based on play scenarios.
  • Video modeling enables teaching social skills within the context of a “real” setting and within the teaching of another skill.
  • Video Modeling is used to model multiple social skills at once, as they are in real life.
  • Video modeling social skills models the correct skill or behavior.
  • Video Modeling social skills in a naturalistic setting provides an easy transition to generalization.
  • Video Modeling is scientifically proven to effectively teach social skills.
  • Using video modeling to teach social skills allows for repetition.

Combining video modeling with other teaching methods is the most effective intervention for social skills.

Video Modeling can easily be combined with other teaching methods to create a multi-sensory learning opportunity. Science has proven that a multi-sensory approach to teaching creates the best results.

By including other sensory stimulation in a learning situation, you create the most dynamic teaching opportunity.

Teaching does not have to be difficult, but it needs to be comprehensive. If you are teaching skills, it will be best understood if you show the skill, demonstrate the skill, talk about the skill and perform the skill.

“The complexity of social interaction skills necessitates the use of multiple intervention strategies. Video modeling allows you to combine a broad range of strategies and can be used to promote skill acquisition, enhance skill performance and reduce problem behaviors. Video modeling is without a doubt the most effective social skills intervention strategy that I have used with children with ASD.”

Bellini, Scott (2006).

Building Social Relationships. A Systematic Approach to Teaching Social Interaction Skills to Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Social Difficulties.

Shawnee Mission, KS: Autism Asperger Publishing, Co.

Science has proven Video Modeling to be an effective method of teaching social skills.

“Results showed that this video modeling procedure enhanced the social initiation skills of all children”

Nikopoulos CK, Keenan M.

Journal of Autism Dev Disord. 2007 Apr;37(4): 678-93

“Video modeling has also been shown to be an effective teaching strategy in facilitating generalization of social skills.”

Christos K. Nikopoulos & Michael Keenan

Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 2004 Spring, 37(1): 93-96

Watch Me Learn is social skill teaching

Skills that Watch Me Learn teaches:

  • functional
  • academic
  • play
  • social
  • and many more...

All skills are modeled within THE social environment of real life. Social skills are therefore taught in every single scenario.

Example: A coloring scene.

Children coloring together

Children are coloring, asking for crayons, interacting AND talking.

How do Watch Me Learn videos teach social skills so successfully?

  • By modeling skills in real settings, including the home, outdoors, and school.
  • Watch Me Learn kids are neighborhood kids interacting and modeling.
  • Watch Me Learn kids are being themselves and having fun.
  • Watch Me Learn video is based on real scenarios.
  • Children relate to the children in Watch Me Learn modeling in everyday life.
  • Generalizing skills is a natural product of a Watch Me Learn video.
  • Repetition is a known factor in teaching success.

Watch Me Learn is the product of a successful home teaching program. The original videos were made at home and that element is carried over into WML. This natural component of WML videos is why social skills are so seamlessly taught.

Social skills are pervasive in real life, so modeling real life naturally models social skills. Simply put, Watch Me Learn models social skills.

A picture is worth a thousand words.....

Kids sitting on grass talking and socializing

To find out more about our learning products
please visit our Product Pages.


Watch Me Learn Educational Products

Did you know that Watch Me Learn has produced an award winning series of educational videos based on Video Modeling teaching techniques?

Watch Me Learn is dedicated to helping kids with autism learn using the proven video modeling method.

Why is Watch Me Learn so Effective?

  • Easy to use
  • Visual teaching tool
  • Teaches real-life skills.
  • Uses realistic and natural settings and situations
  • Children learn from watching other children
  • Stress and anxiety free learning
  • Effective, but at same time a fun way to learn

We’ve made it easy to try are Video Modeling based learning products for yourself.

Our Videos are now available to instantly watch on your favorite device, including smartphone, tablet, computer or TV.

Learn more about Our Products >>

To instantly watch visit our Video on Demand page >>

Back to Top