This study examined associations between parent-child interactions and the development of social skills in 42 children (21 typically developing and 21 with autism spectrum disorders) between the ages of 3 years, 0 months and 6 years, 11 months. We expected that positive parent-child interaction qualities would be related to children's social skills and would mediate the negative relation between children's developmental status (typical development vs autism spectrum disorders) and social skills. Videotapes of parents and children during a 5-min wordless book task were coded for parent positive affect and emotional support as well as parent-child cohesiveness. Emotional support and cohesiveness were significantly related to children's social skills, such that higher emotional support and cohesiveness were associated with higher social skills, R (2) = .29, p = .02, and R (2) = .38, p = .002, respectively. Additionally, cohesiveness mediated the relation between children's developmental status and social skills. These findings suggest that parent emotional support and cohesiveness between parents and children positively influence children's social skills. Parent positive affect was unrelated to social skills. Implications of these findings for social skills interventions are discussed, particularly for young children with autism spectrum disorders.