How Teaching Social Thinking™ Builds Independence and Social Problem Solving for Life


An Interview with Michelle Garcia-Winner

When we think of social skills, we often think about nice behaviors we want to see our children doing--sharing, taking turns, looking at you when you speak to them, and greeting/complimenting others during conversations.

But what if we looked a bit deeper?

What if we could go beyond these rote social skill behaviors we want our kids to memorize and do on the playground or at a social event?

What if we could see what comes BEFORE the behavior and teach that, so our kids can be social problem-solvers no matter what situation they are in? 

What if we could teach kids to understand how we make sense of the world and others, so they can better navigate whatever social situation they are in? 

To address this question, I was thrilled to interview Michelle Garcia Winner, alongside my colleague and co-creator of Make It Stick Parenting course, Dr. Rebecca Branstetter.  Michelle is the founder of Social Thinking™, which is a methodology and it's globally recognized. She is a thought leader. She's an author, a speaker and a social-cognitive therapist. She's been honored and received the congressional special Recognition Award in 2008, and a Lectureship Award in 2019 from the Society of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatricians. She specializes in creating concepts and practical strategies to promote executive function, social cognition, and self-regulation.

In this interview, Michelle sheds light on some important ideas for parents and professionals about the difference between social skills and social competencies. Listen to the full interview to learn:

  • How children learn to make sense of the social world (Spoiler Alert: it’s not about memorizing behaviors people around them do)
  • The challenges that arise when children show difficulties with social thinking
  • How to teach abstract ideas about the social world (that extend beyond the playground)
  • How social competencies are different from social skills  (download the free social competency model below).
  • How teaching “smart guesses” can help children in any social situation


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