Hangout Ideas for Our Not So Chatty Friends

The very first step in setting up a successful playdate or hangout is identifying an activity around which the get-together will be structured.  For playdate partners who aren’t super talkative, identifying a successful get-together plan can be challenging, representing the first step in a vicious cycle.  When our “not so chatty” children have a hard time joining in conversation-laden activities, they get less practice talking and playing with other kids, so they have fewer opportunities to develop the social skills that are critical to their future success, starting the cycle over again.  Not to worry, Mom and Dad…there is certainly room in our social world for a quieter style of relating to others! Here’s some ways you can support your child to interact successfully with peers without placing a significant focus on using your words! 

  1. Start with a dyad.  Not all get-togethers need to be in a large group setting. With each additional conversation partner that is added to a hangout or playdate, the social dynamics become increasing complex.  So, start small with just one play partner.  Once you child is successful, you can systematically add more friends over time.   
  2. Focus on movement activities.  Movement activities allow children to be part of a group without having to overly rely on their conversation skills. For example, a game of basketball requires far less talking than going out for lunch.  Think about games that are easy to join with your body, as opposed to your voice. 
  3. Use technology as a means to connect.  Today’s children are growing up in a technology-driven world that allows them to form relationships, sometimes without ever speaking.  Use technology as a tool allow your child to join in the social scene without putting a huge conversational burden on the relationship.  For example, children can play video games or watch a movie together without speaking a single world.  You’d be surprised how quickly the words start flowing once children are engaged in a tech-based activity together, as the stress materializes into thin air. 
  4. Play games that required one-word responses.  Many games require just short verbal responses in order to play.  Some of our favorites are Spot It, Hot or Cold, and Battle Ship.  These types of activities will help your child transition from a silent hangout to one that’s a bit more interactive. 
  5. Be patient.  For a child who is stuck in the cycle we just described, it can take time for play patterns to change.  But, with the just right hangout structure and a little bit of patience, social success is possible!  

Hitchcock, C., Chavira, D., Stein, M. (2009) Recent findings in social phobia among children and adolescents. Journal of Psychiatry and Related Science, 46(1), 34-44.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Social anxiety disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved March 1, 2022, from

About the Author

Justyna Balzar, M.Ed. BCBA LBA (CT) Co-Founder & CEO

Justyna Balzar has over 15 years experience with learners of varying profiles between the ages of 3 to 18 across multiple settings. She received her Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) certification in 2014 from Florida Institute of Technology, her Master in Curriculum and Education in Applied Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University, followed by her BCBA certification in 2016.