Games are a great way to get kids involved in learning. Games make the lesson feel fun and less forced. Just like we are taught reading, writing, and math, some kids need to be taught social skills such as cooperating with peers, controlling emotions, using manners, building empathy, having conversations, and following directions. Some kids also need assistance to build self-esteem and confidence. When you feel good about yourself and believe in yourself, you are more likely to make healthy choices.
There are a lot of highly rated board games and card games that focus on these concepts. As a school psychologist and behavior specialist I frequently encounter these fun games and get asked by other professionals which games I like. Below I listed my top five favorite games for working on social skills, behavior, and self-esteem. These are great to do at home with your kids, in a social skills group, or in one to one therapy.
5 Highly-Rated Kids Games For Practicing Social Skills
This fast-paced therapeutic card game, is made to help children control their anger in the moment. Children will practice 12 effective anger management techniques, understand what anger feels and looks like, avoid anger-provoking situations, express and understand their feelings, identify anger cues, and learn that they have choices about how to express anger. Mad Dragon plays like the popular game UNO. Players race to get rid of their cards. while learning to anger control skills. This fun and effective game includes 100 high-quality 3″ x 4 1/2″ cards, instructions, and tips for taming anger. Designed for ages 6-12, 2 to 8 players.
The Art of Conversation for Children (TAOC) is the perfect way for children to become great communicators, learn about other people, better understand themselves, all as they enjoy great times and strengthen bonds with family and friends. Everyone wins!
TAOC helps children:
- Make friends and be friends, speak well and with confidence
- Listen with interest and understanding
- Share ideas and feelings in a safe, non-judgmental setting that facilitates communication
- Learn about living and gain insights from others
- Put their complex and developing ideas into words
- Get to know families and friends, old and new
- Discuss effectively and respect the views of others
- Develop compassion for and interest in others.
- Accept that differences need not create conflict
This version of TAOC is for children in particular, but all ages will love playing TAOC. Perfect for many occasions, the informative 16 page communication booklet provides many variations on TAOC, including a solo version. TAOC is fun for everyone and is also a highly effective therapeutic and educational resource for families, therapists, counselors, teachers, speech pathologists, language teachers, coaches, and more. Designed for ages 4 & up, 2-6 players.
In this interactive board game, children help Q race to the top of his tree house while answering questions and performing fun actions. Practice social skills and better behavior with questions designed to promote feeling identification and communication, manners, creative thinking, balance and coordination. YOU cards asks kids questions about themselves and start great conversations. Q Cards allow kids to advise the monkey on what he should do in various social scenarios, thereby letting them practice good manners, coping skills, and adopting a positive attitude. DO cards consist of fun (and sometimes silly!) physical challenges to improve balance and coordination, laying the foundation for emotional and mental self-control. Designed for ages 3-6 and 1 or More Players.
Totika, a Maori (official language in New Zealand) word meaning “well balanced”, is a wood block stacking game unlike any other. Totika includes the Self Esteem question card deck, which challenges players to talk about how to set and achieve goals, identify role models, develop coping and critical thinking skills, and strive for self improvement and success. Players take turns pulling blocks from the stack and responding to questions. Over the last decade, Totika Self Esteem has become a favorite communication and self improvement game of parents, counselors, educators, medical professionals and everyone that works and plays with kids! Designed for ages 8 & up, and 2 or more players.
- 15 Fun Games
- Familiarize Kids With A Wide Range of Emotions
- Finish Incomplete Sentences By Picking Different Feelings, Make Up Stories Using Feeling Cards As Characters
- Pick Feeling Cards That Show How Other People Look To Them
- Pick Feeling Cards That Show How Kids Feel At Particular Times
- Designed for ages 5 & up, 2 or more players
More Fun Games to Play in a Social Skills Group
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- 9 Methods to Teach Toileting to Individuals on the Autism Spectrum (and to those with other developmental disabilities)
- 5 Great Games to Play in a Social Skills Group
- How to Handle Temper Tantrums (Home & School)
Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, educators, and counselors to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them.