Teaching Boys Social Skills



Boys interact differently than girls do.

Sure, some of that is socialization. (A lot of that is probably socialization.) But the fact remains: boys’ interactions on the playground, in school and at home are different than girls’. The way boys greet and play with one another is different than the way girls do so — and if you’re a mom or teacher of boys, odds are good that you’ve never been a boy yourself and don’t understand the nuances of male interaction.

Most boys naturally pick up these nuances. But some kids, particularly children with ADHD or autism, do not. These kids need extra assistance and support as they learn social skills. Unfortunately for our boys, many of people who do that work are middle-aged females who don’t “speak” tween or teenage boy. Ryan Wexelblatt does.

Ryan Wexelblatt

Ryan is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in working with boys. He’s also the father of a 21 year old son. Raising a son ignited Ryan’s interest in teaching social skills to boys — and highlighted the need to teach social skills from a male perspective. (Did you know that the vast majority of people who teach social skills are women, while the vast majority of kids who require help with social skills are boys?)

“These boys were learning social communication skills that weren’t organic to the way boys their age spoke to each other,” Ryan says. “It was overly formal, it was a lot of scripted behavior.” Essentially, he says, many boys who were receiving formal social skills training “were being taught to speak like middle-aged women” — which wasn’t doing them any favors on the playground.

Ryan helps boys navigate friendships and social situations. Listen & learn how you can support your boys’ social development.

In this episode, Jen & Ryan discuss:
  • Male/male social communication
  • How to differentiate disrespect from “roasting” & sarcasm
  • The importance of perspective-taking skills (& how to teach them)
  • Appropriate vs. needs-some-support social behavior
  • Signs of social problems
  • The difference between social anxiety and social learning challenges
  • Signs and symptoms of social anxiety
  • How to help boys with social anxiety
  • Why accommodating social anxiety is the absolute wrong thing to do (& what to do instead)
  • How to talk to your child about learning differences
  • Techniques you can use to reinforce and teach social skills
  • How to develop boys’ social problem solving skills — so they can solve playground and friendship disputes on their own!
  • Why trusting your instincts is a better option than soliciting parenting advice online
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

Ride The Wave Counseling — Ryan’s counseling service (includes info about online coaching and his summer camp)

ADHD Dude — the online home of Ryan’s ADHD work. Includes a link to his ADHD Dude Facebook group, and will soon feature an Executive Function class for parents as well as a Social Skills class for boys

socialthinking.com — includes lots of free articles about social, emotional & mental health

Dudes Learn Social — Ryan’s series of YouTube videos aimed directly at boys


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