Adaptive childhood development is characterised by creating and maintaining interpersonal ties with peers. It signifies the importance of social skills and effective communication with peers. Networking and collaboration are essential engineering design traits your kids will need in STEM education, coding for kids and robotics for kids.
Children who do not reach this milestone risk several adverse consequences, such as dropping out of school, juvenile delinquency, and poor mental health that may manifest in adolescence or persist into adulthood.
This could be a cause of worry for you as a parent, but fortunately, many Social Skills Training Programmes can help your kid overcome the social skill deficit.
Social Skills Training Programmes
The educational and psychological literature has placed a lot of emphasis on ways to teach kids find themselves isolated from their peers, the skills they need to establish, develop, and maintain fulfilling friendships because of the detrimental long-term effects of poor peer relationships in childhood.
Child social skills training (SST) programmes took place in schools and clinics in the 1970s and 1980s. The social skills targeted by the programmes, the teaching techniques used, the learning environment, and the programme structure vary (small group or whole class). Common skill targets include initiating, maintaining, and ending interactions with others through play and talks, resolving social issues, and preventing and managing bullying and teasing.
Supporting kids as they transfer skills from training to daily life is one of the most significant issues with SST. As a parent and caregiver, you, too, have an essential role to play in your child’s development and future performance in STEM field, and subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Modern SST programmes have used several approaches to address this, including assigning homework between sessions, providing visual supports, empowering peers to assist kids in using their social skills when necessary, and educating parents and teachers on how to encourage, recognise, and reward kids when they use their social skills.
Tech tools like apps, video games, and virtual reality technologies offer innovative ways to teach and encourage kids to use social skills.
Social Skills Instructional Methods
Most SST programmes on the market combine various teaching techniques, such as didactic instruction, modelling (including peer-, instructor-, or video-led modelling of target skills), behavioural rehearsal, and feedback. Strategies to encourage children to engage and participate in skill-training classes are crucial, especially in a setting where a child’s disruptive behaviour could interfere with others’ ability to learn.
Some of the popular instructional methods are as follows:
Didactic instruction entails explaining to a youngster step-by-step how to perform a social skill. An initial justification for acquiring the craft and an explanation of how it can benefit the child are often given to increase the youngster’s motivation to obtain and use the skill.
During didactic instruction, task analysis and chaining are commonly used during didactic education. A complex skill is broken down into its steps via task analysis. For instance, the social skill of managing and preventing bullying and teasing can be divided into specific steps that can be taught one-on-one:
Keep your distance from bullies and stick with your friends, keep your body and face calm, speak out for yourself, and gently walk away, moving to a safe place.
Each part can be taught and demonstrated separately before being chained together in a sequence once the individual stages have been identified.
As a parent, you can take the help of an instruction technique called social stories. An adult and a kid often write a social story together to explain why the child must accomplish a particular skill or behaviour in a specific situation and the necessary skill stages.
Instead of telling a youngster what to do, the story should describe a target situation and explain why a skill should be employed. The report can include graphics or photos and is adjusted to the child’s developmental stage. For instance, a social story could be written on the value of having students raise their hands before speaking in class.
The kid is taught the skill steps in action by you, the instructor or caregiver, or via a video example rather than being told the component steps of a skill (didactic instruction).
Modelling can be done in the following two ways:
In Vivo Modelling:
A caregiver or instructor may demonstrate a skill to a youngster in real-time through in vivo modelling. One benefit of in vivo modelling is that it can be carried out in a child’s actual challenging social scenario while tailoring the modelled response to the demands of the circumstance.
The kid can subsequently be encouraged to practise these abilities on their own.
A child is exposed to a video example of skill through video modelling. The video clip can be stopped and replayed at any moment by you or the instructor to promote conversation and skill development and further a child’s understanding.
Video modelling has several advantages over in-person modelling, including the ability to cut out distractions or extraneous elements from the skill presentation and the possibility for a youngster to see the skill demonstration more than once
The use of stimulating themes, the everyday appropriate conversational language used by the kid’s peers, and play objects or activities that the child finds interesting are all crucial for maximising children’s engagement and learning from filmed skill demonstrations.
For preschoolers with ASD, both in vivo and video modelling have been proven to be equally effective. However, video modelling leads to faster acquisition of abilities compared to in vivo modelling.
Video modelling is used to encourage conversation, problem-solving, and practising prosocial behaviour. The chosen scenes illustrate bullying, lying, stealing, etc., at home and school. Children discuss their thoughts, come up with suggestions for appropriate reactions, and role-play solutions after observing them
It is crucial that kids put the lessons they learn in class into practice before applying them in real life. According to research, practising behaviours can help with skill encoding, memory retention, and retrieval.
The child pretends to be themselves as you, the instructor, or other group members play characters in a predetermined scenario during behavioural rehearsal, an organised teaching method.
However, this technique should not be used in isolation. For instance, role play is also a pleasant way for kids to engage in SST and allows for “in vivo” skill practice.
Role-playing is a pleasant way for kids to engage in SST and allows for “in vivo” skill practice.
4.Feedback and Self Evaluation
Feedback is the process of telling your kid how they used a skill in a role-playing exercise or real-world circumstance.
Praise, approval, or material rewards are all examples of positive feedback. Children who receive constructive feedback are better able to control their behaviour and become more self-aware of their social skill strengths and weaknesses.
You can improve the feedback process by capturing a child’s social skill demonstrations and watching the movie with the youngster.
Research demonstrates that feedback is more successful when given right away after a skill has been performed. It should be concrete and explicit, emphasise the positive, and provide helpful information to shape future skill performances.
Giving children feedback carries some hazards, one of which is that they may interpret it as criticism. You can prevent this by receiving training on providing feedback constructively by beginning with the positives, being specific, and offering only one recommendation for development.
To develop their self-awareness of their behaviour, it is also essential to encourage kids to self-evaluate how well they use their social skills in class and everyday situations.
Use of Behavior Management Strategies
Effective behaviour control tactics are essential whether an instructor conducts individual or group SST. Low frustration tolerance and emotion dysregulation are more common in kids who lack social skills.
To encourage children to participate and learn in class and control their emotions and behaviours, effective tactics must be employed both preventatively and remedially.
It is advised that specific behavioural standards be stated upfront. These could be a list of group rules, a verbal or written agreement, or a card with individualised skill targets for each child. Children can receive praise and tokens or points converted into real treats after the session as reinforcement for achieving behavioural targets (such as using a kind face, voice, and words and listening calmly to others’ thoughts).
Including self-control skills in social skills, courses are crucial so that students can be encouraged to utilise them during class.