Social Skills Checklist
“Red Flags”

Does your child have social skills challenges?  In my work in Spokane, social skills are the number one concern of parents. 

We all know kids who seem to understand social skills naturally; they’re the ones with lots of friends and natural social banter – often the most popular kids in class.  While your child doesn’t have to be a social butterfly, knowing how to make friends and share feelings with others just makes life better!

The following social skills checklist details “red flags” which may indicate that social skills don’t come easily to your child.  Remember that “red flags” don’t mean your child has a definite problem.  However, if you find yourself checking more than a few of these boxes, you may want to seek additional help.

Pre-School - Social Skills Checklist of “Red Flags”

Interaction and Play

Often seems alone, “in his own world,” or “doing his own thing,” even around others.  (This is only of concern if more than expected, given his age and developmental level).
Turns his back on others frequently.
Doesn’t make eye contact while interacting, if culturally expected.
Avoids others often.
Uses others in a functional but impersonal way.  An example would be leading an adult by the hand to the refrigerator, without acknowledging the adult’s face with a smile or look.
Doesn’t seem to have favorite adults (such as Mom or Dad).
Hugs or touches others rarely, or with little emotional or physical contact.
Often rejected by other kids.
Has significant trouble learning to interact with other children, siblings, or adults, beyond what you would expect for his/her age or development level.

Emotions and Communication

Doesn’t try to communicate with others, even with gesture or sounds.
Seems emotionally disconnected from others.  For example, responds to others’ smiles with a blank look (“flat” emotions).
If speaking, doesn’t use or remember names of family members or peers.  (Using mispronounced names is common and not of concern).

Grade-School and Beyond - Social Skills Checklist of “Red Flags”

Interest and Free Time

Spends inordinate amounts of time in solitary pursuits, such as video games.
Has unusual interests such as train schedules.
Has begun to engage in free-time behaviors of concern to you.

Relationship to Others

Avoids others often, perhaps saying he “doesn’t care” about making friends or spending time with others.
Is extremely social but unsuccessful, or seems disconnected from others.
Has no or few friends.
Repels new “potential friends” he meets.
Accepts “friends” who treat him poorly, or have significant social problems themselves.
Has been bullied.
Is not accepted by peers at school or elsewhere.
Rejected by “potential friends” who are being influenced by others in the peer group.


Becomes extremely anxious, has panic attacks, or experiences social anxiety around others.
Shows confusion over how to make friends or respond to other people.
Displays sadness over social difficulties.
Get mad or angry too easily at others, turning small issues into bigger battles.
Shows little or no empathy toward others.

Social Skills

Displays odd social skills, such as trying to “pet” others or touch their hair.
Doesn’t follow unspoken social rules.  For example, stands or walks too closely, picks nose at school lunch table, or hugs people indiscriminately.
Tries to make friends in rudimentary and ineffective ways.  For example, walks up and says “Will you be my friend?”
Seems self-focused, with little consideration for others.
Seems unaware of how to select the right friends and be wary of strangers.  For example, is willing to accept anyone as a friend right away.
Displays bizarre or unwelcome social behaviors, such as howling like a wolf, grabbing other kids, or yelling.
Has bullied or become physical with others.
Acts like the “class clown” as a way to be included.
“Nit-picks” others or is too precise, such as correcting others on exactly what time it is.
Is inflexible or has difficulty with transitions.
Needs help with basic social interaction skills, such as how to make friends, meet others, join others in play, solve problems, or have mutual conversations.
Is diagnosed with Autism, PDD, Asperger’s Syndrome, or another disability which includes difficulty with social skills.


Refuses to talk in certain locations, such as will talk at home but not at school.
Argues often with others (beyond typical with siblings).
Talks endlessly about the own topic, without checking to see if the listener is interested.
Forgets to ask the listener questions.
Talks about topics others find “boring,” such as video games, action figures, trains, or the time.
Chooses conversation topics that are immature for age and developmental level of peers.
Goes into too much detail.
Does not read nonverbal signals that listener is bored, uninterested, or wants to change topics.


Shows flawed, rigid or extreme perceptions such as:  “He’s always trying to hurt me,” “That teacher hates me,” “I’m an idiot,” “She made me hit her,” or “Everyone’s mean.”
Seems to have low problem-solving skills.
Seems not to notice how he is perceived by others.
Doesn’t adjust his behavior based on the consequences of his choices or actions on others.
Displays “black and white” thinking; for example, insists that there is only one way to do something, or that people are either wrong or right.  Cannot perceive or acknowledge “shades of gray.”

Parenting “Red Flags” – Do You…

Worry that your child does not have enough friends?
Worry that your child does not exhibit basic social interaction skills?
Worry about your child’s emotional responses to others?
Notice that your child’s conversation skills are extremely odd or self-focused?
Cringe when you see your child interact with others?
Frequently help your child interact with other children his or her age, beyond what you think should be needed?
Find yourself defending your child’s social behavior to friends, family, neighbors, or school?
Try to “manage” your child’s life behind the scenes, so your child has a more successful social life?

If this Social Skills Checklist helped you identify some challenges your child may have, consider getting help.  Many children can learn these skills, if taught in ways they can understand.

Need more help?  Call  (509) 448-1506 or Click to Email 

Deborah Skalabrin, MSW, LICSW

701 W. 7th Avenue, Suite 15
Spokane, WA  99204
(509) 448-1506 - Phone
(509) 624-7500 - FAX

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