Introduction

Social skills are one of the most important skills children and adolescents develop, as they often serve as predictors of future success. Yet many children struggle to attain even some of the most basic skills. Children who are under a great deal of strain and stress in their lives will often miss some common social skills typically attained by their peers. Young ones diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Disruptive and Conduct Disorders and many others will often display deficits within their social skills. Why does this matter so much?

Positive relationships in life generally help most individuals thrive. Children and teenagers with well-developed social skills are likely to gain confidence in their abilities to approach situations and complete tasks more successfully. Parents, teachers, and mental health professionals can all work, independently and/or collaboratively, to help children develop their social skills.

The following are the four types of social skills identified in scholarly literature:

  1. Survival skills: Listening, ignoring, following directions
  2. Interpersonal skills: Sharing, joining a conversation, taking turns talking
  3. Problem-solving skills: Asking for help, deciding what to do/appropriate action to take, recognizing when to apologize
  4. Conflict resolution skills: Dealing with teasing and bullying, losing/being a good sport, handling peer pressure (Good Therapy, 2018)

While most children pick up positive skills through their everyday interactions with adults and peers, it is important that educators and parents reinforce this casual learning with direct and indirect instruction. Increased negative societal influences and demands on family life make it imperative that schools partner with parents to facilitate this social learning process. This is particularly true today given the critical role that social skills play in maintaining a positive school environment and reducing school violence.

Consequences of Good Social Skills

With a full repertoire of social skills, students will have the ability to make social choices that will strengthen their interpersonal relationships and facilitate success in school. Some consequences of good social skills include:

  • Positive and safe school environment.
  • Child resiliency in the face of future crises or other stressful life events.
  • Students who seek appropriate and safe avenues for aggression and frustration.
  • Children who take personal responsibility for promoting school safety (NASP Center, 2002).

Consequences of Poor Social Skills

Students with poor social skills have been shown to:

  • Experience difficulties in interpersonal relationships with parents, teachers, and peers.
  • Evoke highly negative responses from others that lead to high levels of peer rejection. Peer rejection has been linked on several occasions with school violence.
  • Show signs of depression, aggression and anxiety.
  • Demonstrate poor academic performance as an indirect consequence.
  • Show a higher incidence of involvement in the criminal justice system as adults (NASP Center, 2002).

A local family benefiting from social skills techniques in our area was featured in the Sentinel-Review this spring (May 2018). Mom, Stephanie Lechance and daughter, Maya, who is diagnosed with ASD spoke to reporter Heather Rivers advising other parents out there that:

“Early intervention is key.

Don’t think you child will outgrow it.

We like to push Maya out of her comfort zone so she can learn new skills.”

This resource toolkit has been developed for professionals working with children in educational and therapeutic environments that offer social skills training and mental health advocacy. Teachers, educational assistants, child and youth workers, social works and the like, will all benefit from these resources. The toolkit has been designed to accommodate children in grades kindergarten to three. This portion of the site provides access to a variety of tools in order to help you assist children to gain the resiliency and self-confidence needed to successfully navigate their lives with the use of social skills.

Developed by Esther Trapp SSW, RSSW