Many children and adolescents who present for therapy services here at In Step experience difficulties in their peer relationships. They may encounter problems making and keeping friends, have trouble noticing social cues, or have a hard time expressing themselves. Both individual and group therapy can assist children and teens to gain skills for navigating their interpersonal environments.
Here are some methods we use to help kids develop their social skills:
- Recognize positive and negative social influences.
We work with children to sketch drawings or diagrams that map out their social worlds, and identify how they feel about certain people or groups of people.
- Develop plans with them to maximize positive social influences.
We suggest concrete plans with children about what they could do to improve their social environment, such as “call Steve”, “join the Boy Scouts” or “avoid Sarah”.
- Help them identify and manage their feelings about interpersonal events.
We help kids identify their feelings about social situations, and also help them cope with these feelings. For example, a child may express that he or she feels hurt or angry that another child has teased him, we encourage that child to express his feelings through words, art, or play.
- Help kids identify courses of action they might take in response to negative events.
In the instance of teasing, we offer a tool box of techniques for coping with teasing such as perfecting the dirty look, practicing one word come backs, mindful ignoring, and connecting with bystanders.
- Help children develop strategies for making friends, getting along with others, and getting their needs met.
We use role-plays, drawings, fantasy play, or specially designed therapeutic board games to help children develop various social skills. The skills these techniques help children to develop might include: making requests, registering complaints, asking for help, resisting peer pressure, making and accepting compliments, and entering a group of children who are already playing or talking together.
Individual therapy is not the only methods of helping children and teens with social skills deficits. Group therapy can be very effective in helping children and teens learn how to make friends and get along with their peers.
Group therapy can greatly enhance a child or teen’s development of his or her social skills by practicing social skills with others in a safe environment. Here at In Step we can provide both individual and group therapy. Please call us and ask which might be better suited for your child.