Three Keys to Better Social Skills

By Karen DeBolt | 26th Jul 2009 | Filed under Parenting, Reflections, Techniques

True story

We are standing in line at the grocery store. There is a fairly large, attractive black woman standing in front of us in the line. My beloved boy takes one look and says, “Oh. My. God. Look at how HUGE that woman’s. . .” I put my hand firmly on his mouth at that point! Oy! I was so embarrassed! I must have turned six shades of purple. I explained to him for the 876,000th time that we don’t talk about other people’s body parts. I have a dream that some day he will actually understand, but that is still a work in progress.

I think most every parent at one time or another has been embarrassed by something your child did in public. If your child struggles more than others with a deficit in social skills like mine, then this may be an everyday experience. I think it can be easy to get used to our children’s quirks at home, but out in the world that brutal honesty might get him a dirty look or worse a punch in the nose, that constant chatter about her special interest might get her shunned by peers, and that bossy attitude might land him in the Principal’s office—again.

Why does he do this stuff anyway?

Sure a diagnosis of ADHD, high functioning autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, etc. explains that there is a social skills deficit, but is it possible to teach something that most people learn intuitively?

The answer is yes!

Social skills can be taught just like any other set of skills since they don’t come naturally, each skill must be specifically taught, and not only how to do a skill, but when and why need to taught as well. Here are three keys to beginning to help your child improve his or her social skills.

Three Keys to Better Social Skills

1. Self Awareness – Helping your child to become more aware of how he or she looks to other people. You can do this by becoming a mirror for your child. You can do this as a game or by using a video camera to build awareness of how he is perceived

2. Other Awareness – stop the action on his or her favorite video and ask how a particular character might be feeling inside right now or what reasons they might have for how they are acting right now.

3. Situational Awareness – When you notice a particular social challenge arising within your family, stop the action and start a discussion about what is happening at that moment. For example, if your child is going on and on about his special interest, but the other family members are no longer listening. Stop the action and ask your child to notice the people around him right now. How are they holding their bodies, what expression is on their face, etc.

By building awareness, your child will begin the process of noticing and thinking about how he or she feels as well as other people.

I would love to hear what challenges and successes you have.

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Self Care Challenge: Making a date with yourself

By Karen DeBolt | 9th Jul 2009 | Filed under Self Care

As busy moms the biggest mistake that we make is in taking care of everyone else and not taking care of ourselves. I know that I am guilty of this one on a regular basis. I will just keep powering through instead of allowing myself to take time to have some fun.

Fun? You say what the heck is that?

I know that feeling! You almost forget what you used to enjoy after a while. So think back and remember before you had a mortgage, children, significant other, etc. What did you use to do for fun?

Go for a hike?
Take in a play at the theater?
Hang out at the coffee shop with friends?
Dance around the living room?

I challenge each and every one of you out there to schedule some time for fun this week.  Make a plan then get a sitter and go for it!
If you did it, then go to the comments and post what you did so we can celebrate together!

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Social Skills: Collaborative Problem solving

By Karen DeBolt | 9th Jul 2009 | Filed under Parenting, Relationships, Techniques

We have been really busy preparing for Advantage Day Camp later this summer and planning for some after school social skills groups during the Fall. Stay tuned for more on that program soon as we get it planned.

If you have any questions, feel free to fill out the form on the page or even give me a call at 503-459-2073

All the best, Karen

 Social Skills: Collaborative Problem solving

He made me do it!

There’s a battle going on and by the time you get to the next room something is broken and two kids are angry. After a bit of detective work you figure out who did what. The problem is that the usual suspect is blaming bis brother for his own bad behavior. . .again!

He made me do it!
He made me mad!

Sigh. . .

So, you worry about whether he is going to end up a hardened criminal always blaming someone else for his problems and never taking responsibility.

Why does my child do that?

The truth is that often when a child is in an emotionally charged state whether it is a happy, sad or angry his ability to problem solve will go out the window. You can subtract 3 to 6 years off of his age instantly. (for some children even more!)

Suddenly your very smart 9 year old is throwing a toy across the room because he is angry that his brother touched his special model. He will be convinced in the heat of that moment that his brother is the problem so he will react rather than logically realize that his behavior is going to get him into trouble. If he would have come to you for help first, then his brother would have been the one in trouble and not him.

So What now?

During the heat of the moment is not the time to work on this skill. Once the strong emotions are flying around there is very little ability to reason or learn, so save your breath and separate the two parties to calm down before you intervene or better yet try to intervene before things escalate this far.

The Pre-emptive Strike

The key is to try to intervene before the melt down is in full gear. Obviously, you will not be able to do this all the time, but when you can it can be a highly effective way to help your chil to learn how to problem solve before trouble strikes.

Here’s the steps:

1. Stop the action – “Whoa, hold on a minute, let’s talk about what’s happening right now.”
2. Help the parties to describe their concerns. “Okay, one at time. Joey tell me your side first and Johnny will get a turn in a minute.”
3. Ask clarifying questions and help him to restate his position as a concern and not as a solution. “Joey needs to share with me!” is a solution. The concern might be “I would like to play with the toy too!”
4. Then put both concerns on the table and ask both parties to come up with a solution that addresses both concerns. “So Joey wants to play with the toy, and Johnny is worried that Joey will break it and not put it away when he is done playing with it. What can we do here?”

Children are fairly self focused beings, so don’t expect your children to be able to do this perfectly the first time. But with some coaching from you, your children will be able to come up with some very creative ideas to address their concerns as well as your concern that they not beat each other to a pulp or trash the house when they disagree.

Give it a try and let me know how it went!

Advantage Day Camp: Building social skills through play

While Advantage Camp is designed to help your child build the skills that he or she needs to be successful in school and in life, the extra added bonus is that you may be able to take some time to nurture yourself while your child is having fun with us.

There are only five spaces left for day camp! Remember there is a $50 discount if you sign up before July 31st, so don’t delay as we will be filling up!

If your child struggles to make friends, gets in trouble
at school and home, and is starting to feel bad about him or herself then maybe it is time to address the problems and help your child to start building skills that will help the next school year be the best yet.

Advantage Day Camp builds skills that help your child to:

* Make and keep friends
* Control impulses that get them into trouble
* Feel good about who they are and what they have to offer
* Have FUN!!!

There is limited space available so if you are interested at all please check out the website at:

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