Social Skills: The Right Time and the Right Audience

By Karen DeBolt | 12th Aug 2009 | Filed under Parenting, Reflections, Relationships, Techniques

Boys in hatsI was talking to my husband about today’s newsletter topic and I explained to him that children who struggle with social skills often don’t understand that some behaviors are okay with some people and at some times, but not okay with other people or at other times. For example, arm farts are really funny and very acceptable when you are with your other 3rd grade friends on the playground or hanging around outside at home, but those same very funny arm farts will get you a trip to the principals office if you do it in the classroom or a time out if you do it at Grandma’s house.

“Aaah.” Said my husband with that dreamy look in his eye that tells me that he is remembering his own past arm fart fun.” Suddenly he said, “So how do you teach that?” “Well,” I said off handedly, “You just talk about it. Most of the time we just tell them to knock it off and that’s it. We assume that they know that this is not the right time. In fact, most of the time they must get pretty confused because they really don’t understand when it is okay and when it is not.”

I didn’t think anymore about it that day, but the next day my husband happily told me a story about putting this little idea on the road.

We were at an art fair with our extended family. My dad’s hip was bothering him, so I walked him back to the car and my son was tagging along. When we arrived my husband was already at the car, so he took both of them back to the house. My typically stoic dad was telling my husband about how much pain he is in when my son pipes up from the backseat, “Oh yeah, you think that’s bad, you should have felt how much pain, I was in last week!”

My husband immediately recognized that my son was acting in an inappropriate manner—some would even say that he lacked empathy—but rather than just tell him to “Knock it off.” He explained to my son that talking like that would be okay with his buddies.

(Imagine for a moment: a group of boys standing in a circle comparing war wounds. “Oh yeah, when I cut my arm it bled for an hour!” “Oh yeah, when I broke my arm the bone was sticking out!” “Oh yeah. . .”)

My husband also explained that this is not an appropriate way to talk to Grandpa when he is in pain. My husband said that he saw that little light bulb go off over my son’s head that day. The other added benefit was that this conversation also helped my dad to better understand my son’s social skills challenges.


Advantage Day Camp – Aug 24th – 28th in Hillsboro, OR.

Does your child sometimes behave in ways that are not appropriate to the situation at hand? This is an area where additional social skills help can make a huge difference.

If your child is going into 2nd through 6th grade and has social skills challenges, then Advantage Day Camp was especially designed for you. Day camp will provide a ratio of one highly skilled leader for each two children. We will be teaching skills like:

  • Flexibility
  • Collaboration
  • Communication skills
  • Impulse control

All while having fun playing games, getting into nature, and exploring our creativity.

You may notice that I left the Early Bird discount up even though that is long past. It was 105 degrees that week! Who could think about anything, but a nice, cool lemonade in that weather?

So, not to worry, I would like to help as many children as I can with this program before school starts again, so if this sounds like a good fit, then please don’t hesitate. I will be closing registration this Friday, August 14th at midnight, so that I can concentrate on preparations.

Fill out the form at the bottom of the webpage, and I will be happy to contact you at your convenience or feel free to contact me at 503-459-2073.

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