Parents play a very active role in our Stepping Stones group therapy program. We commend our parents for their commitment to their children. In their involved roles here at In Step, parents work hard in their weekly coaching groups as they share issues and concerns with other parents, follow through on practice exercises and activities at home, and relay information and assignments to teachers; all in the name of encouraging social development in their children.
Our parent groups are vital in helping children acquire the skills they need to make and keep friends. Stepping Stones parents know that their efforts to model appropriate social behavior and offer feedback about desirable social behavior have not been successful up until their arrival at In Step. The children who attend Stepping Stones have complex social issues. Many of the kids struggle with basic interpersonal skills, such as achieving self-awareness. It is difficult for some of our group members to manage emotions effectively, empathize with the thoughts and feelings of others, and go with the flow in social situations. While we have always known that weekly group therapy for children is insufficient. It is an important first step. Even without concurrent parent groups, there are realistic benefits to group therapy with children:
1. Group members gain a feeling of acceptance that may not be present in other social settings;
2. They develop feelings of connectedness with other children; a sense they are not alone with their troubles;
3. Their self-esteem and sense of mastery improves;
4. Group members feel more hopeful about their social potential;
5. They become more self-aware and develop an ability to see the world through others’ eyes.