should be a time for free, spontaneous expression. Good mental
health is important for our children to succeed. They deserve
to learn all the tasks that will allow them to develop friendships
and loving alliances with others. They deserve fit and willing
teachers and parents who can help them learn the skills to deal
with our complex world.
talk, don't trust and don't feel!" are the three classic rules
that are taught by families in dysfunctional homes according
to Claudia Black, a nationally known writer in the addiction
field. "Keep quiet, shut down and don't ever, ever rock the
boat" are messages many children grow up with. Families with
dysfunctional behavior have the rule of keeping things secret
to protect the family against criticism from others.
of secrecy results in a shut down of spontaneity in the young
child. The child who has been physically or sexually abused
grows up with deep shame about himself and his family. When
parents are excessively critical, shame is a powerful emotion
that hammers in the nails of the coffin of poor self-esteem
in children as young as two or three years of age. Even in happy
families, often there is an unwritten rule about not expressing
negative feelings. The result of this is individuals who grow
up not in touch with their feeling. They often use ineffective
means of coping with stress, turn to alcohol and drugs to squelch
negative feelings or turn the unexpressed feelings into physical
very few effective role models of how to express negative emotions
appropriately. Who among us is comfortable about expressing
dismay, disgust and anger in appropriate ways? We all have strong
messages about how wonderful the positive emotions are. Most
people cannot deal with strong expression of anger, frustration,
sadness, fear or guilt because of their own internal rules about
how wrong it is to feel these feelings let alone express them.
At this point in our society, most people have not learned the
skills of expressing negative feelings in a comfortable manner.
common patterns of coping with threat and stress in unhealthy
families are anger, blaming the other person, submissiveness,
distractable, hyperactive behavior or withdrawing and ignoring
the problem. These coping patterns are passed down from parent
to child resulting in generations of dysfunctional behavior.
Coping styles that were learned as children to keep the family
isolated and safe do not work in adult life. To continue to
live these rules as an adult is to continue to live in considerable
knowledge base about living healthy lives is changing. Information
about the ways to express ourselves in healthy ways is coming
in from many fronts. Psychology, education and the addictions
field offer hope for change to new means of expression. Family
systems theory and research on children's friendship give new
ideas for helping children feel good about themselves. The concept
of teaching social skills is drawn from learning theory and
child development theory. Social skill training complements
play or family therapy teaching positive ways to get along with
new times. New times require new ways of reaching and supporting
children. Our products are designed to address the issues facing
today's children. Our curriculums can help you:
- 1. Teach
children positive social skills and provide them with skill
training to cope with their negative emotional states and
deal with the problems and stressors that they face daily.
- 2. Create
a supportive milieu in the class, school and community so
that children reinforce each other for positive behavior.
Teach children to care for and support each other during stressful
- 3. Reach
more children by concentrating part of your time using a large
group format with curriculums based on what does work to turn
angry young people around.
Social Skills Help People Cope With The Problems Of Life
is the child's ability to relate positively to people in society
in a manner appropriate to his or her age. Prosocial skills give
the child viable tools giving power over his emotions and make
good choices about his behavior. These tools open up the number
of choices that the child has available. Children who have a larger
number of alternative skills to draw from have more self confidence
in handling stressful situations.
an integral part of growing up and is based on skills. Play
offers the child an opportunity to learn to deal with the adult
world. Play helps stimulate the neurons at the synapse level
to strengthen brain function. In play, children learn to express
their emotions and put curbs on their impulsiveness. They learn
to regulate behavior and emotions as called for by the rules
of the social setting. Children use play to distinguish between
real and imaginary situations through games of "Let's pretend."
They use play-fighting to practice skills of physical contact
and competition. Most children naturally learn to read facial
gestures and other nonverbal communication so that they can
respond with the appropriate skill required of the situation.
survey showed that many people feel inadequate in dealing with
social situations. The ability to get along in the world has
been analyzed showing many skills that are built over a lifetime.
The early skills are mostly nonverbal such as eye contact, facial
expression, body language and engaging others in social interaction.
Social skills are reciprocal. The basic building blocks for
development of more complex behavior begin with the mother.
The tiny baby learns to develop eye contact, smile responsively
and look away to terminate contact with the other person. These
early skills draw adults to the infant so that his needs can
be met. He learns to imitate adult actions and initiate play
with toys. Later the verbal skills of communication are learned
and other prerequisite skills for playing with peers.
do not learn the covert skills of social interaction naturally,
due to some neurological impairment or due to learned dysfunctional
behaviors that have been modeled in the home. They become locked
into negative coping patterns of dealing with stressful situations
that bring them more stress.
from dysfunctional families do not have positive skills modeled
for them. They grow up learning to use manipulation, addictive
behavior and violence as a way to cope with stress. Other children
do not learn skills of social interaction naturally due to some
neurological impairment. The rigidity of thinking associated
with neurological impairment causes the child to become locked
into negative coping patterns of dealing with stressful situations
that bring him more stress.
who have a sense of loss of personal control may turn to peer
groups that foster hate and lashing out at those individuals
who are perceived to be different. Children who are adept at
positive social interactions feel more in control of their lives
decreasing their need to join radical fringe groups that promote
crime and racial intolerance. Children who are disliked by others
do not form bonds with others. Not having satisfying friendships,
they often turn to antisocial behavior seeking activities that
are stimulating to them. Children without friends often resort
to alcohol and drug use and engage in gang behavior. Children
who do not have a wide range of positive social skills to draw
from to deal with stress become disconnected from positive values,
high standards for one's behavior and responsibility. They feel
alienated from the higher concepts of respect for others, democracy.
They may turn off to school activities and turn to the more
exciting life of the street.
and families who receive training in behavior management and
communication learn positive ways of speaking to each other.
They develop more effective ways of dealing with daily stressors
and strains. Children are adept in picking up new ways of thinking
and acting and learning tools to help them deal with conflict
and negative emotions. Children as young as two years of age
can be taught to "Use your words" when they are unhappy about
something. They can learn to express anger in healthy ways instead
of acting it out or bottling it up.
skill training offers tools and techniques for individuals to
use to become happier human beings. Family members can learn
to use feeling words when upset. They can learn to approach
conflict with problem solving. Learning to communicate well
and use I Messages such as "I feel angry, when you ___" becomes
a priority for those families who want to live a healthy, happy
life. Social skills are positive abilities that help the child
to interact with others in different situations in ways that
are valued. Social skills are those actions which are acceptable
by society and are beneficial both to the person and to others.
Teach Children--Don't Label Them!
bad, lazy, troublemaker, delinquent! Many children grow up in
systems that label them in negative ways. Labeling a child is
a way of subtly blaming the victim. Labeling is definitive; once
we say it, then it holds meaning. The danger of labels is that
children tend to believe what is said about them and live up to
that negative expectation. Negative labels keep children caught
in negative behavior. Labeling what we do not know how to deal
with is victimization. Labeling can be a subtle means of trying
to control the child. Yet, at one time, resorting to labels was
what was accepted for discipline. Now we are seeing different
ways of working with children--teaching children positive ways
poster says, "Label jelly jars, not kids!"
Teach Social Skills To Prevent Problems of Violence
are easy to teach. Children learn to reconnect with the positive
values of treating each other with respect and taking responsibility
for their own behavior. A classroom program changes the entire
climate to a positive way of thinking-- Let's help each other
and include everyone in our play groups. Activities that emphasize
flexibility of thinking and seeing things from another person's
perspective help children break into rigid ways of seeing people
thus decreasing prejudicial thinking. Young people appreciate
play activities which give them alternatives to locked-in dysfunctional
ways of thinking and acting. They participate with enthusiasm
in curriculums which provide fun activities which demonstrate
respect for others and better ways to live.
to teaching social skills are similar to teaching academic subjects
except that play and group activities and discussion plays a
the skill that needs to be learned.
the skill through discussion and modeling of the desired response.
the rule and alternatives to the rule.
- Cue the
child what to say and do regarding the new skill.
the child cue himself through self talk.
practice of the skill through modeling, games, puppet and
doll play, and role playing.
the new skill during practice.
the child to reinforce himself using self talk for using the
skill. (Feel good about using the skill!)
opportunities for generalization and reinforcement of the
skill in daily play.
A Twenty Minute Investment a Day
talk about their feelings are less likely to turn to alcohol or
drugs or join gangs. Social Skills Training groups help children
learn to share feelings, stand up for themselves and develop effective
ways of coping with conflict. Some of the skills that can be taught
and reinforced in group settings are eye contact, smiling, taking
turns, listening to others, inhibiting behaviors that threaten
others, following directions, sharing uncomfortable feelings,
stopping sarcasm and egging others on. Some of the higher level
skills are resolving conflict, listening with empathy when pain
and hurt are described, giving support and encouragement and creative
skills training gives children a bigger bag of tricks from which
to choose. Children can learn techniques to deal with threat
and their anger. The habitually angry child can change his perceptual
distortions of seeing hostility and threat when there is none.
He can learn to master the skills of stating feelings and staying
centered during other people's outbursts of anger and refrain
from lashing out at others. Focusing on choices will give him
the time to move into logical problem solving. Self-angering
thoughts can be challenged and interrupted to inhibit impulsive
skill training complements other therapeutic modes of intervention
such as family therapy, play and art therapy and psychodynamic
methods of therapy. Social competence requires that we learn
to feel our emotions, talk about them and make responsible behavior
choices that are respectful of others and ourselves. When children
learn to feel and talk their feelings, then they can learn to
minutes a day spent in your teaching social skills can make
a difference in how the children treat each other! Aggressive
behaviors during school and at home decrease when these skills
of expressing themselves in positive ways are taught to children.
Social skills are fun to teach because we feel good about ourselves
when sharing them with children. We learn what we teach. What
we teach we learn! Sometimes we even teach to learn! Teaching
positive skills to children and seeing the difference it makes
in their lives can be one of the most rewarding parts of our
job that we therapists or teachers have.
and activities on how to teach children social skills, see our
Talk, Trust and Feel Catalog
FOR TEACHERS & THERAPISTS
To Angries Out