- ‘Social skills’ is a broad umbrella term that includes verbal and non-verbal communication such as speech, gestures, facial expression and body language.
- Body language makes up about 55% of the impact of your total message, leaving 38% for tone of voice and only 7% of what you say. This means we need to be thoughtful about the intended message and how it might be perceived by others.
- We need good social skills to be able to communicate well with others. With verbal skills, you might think about the content of
the conversations that you have with your family and friends. You might notice that what we say is usually made up of a mix of questions, comments, and compliments.
- As children grow up, and as they transition between primary school to high school, their friendships become more intense and they may spend a lot more time with their friends. This is a time where tweens are looking to their friends to gain an understanding of what are socially acceptable norms and where friends become very influential.
- Girls are often seen developing their relationships through detailed and frequent conversations while boys may prefer to bond
through physical activities such as sports, video games, or other activities that allow them to share.
- Social skills are crucial in making and sustaining friendships. This is because interactions with other people do not always
run smoothly – you must be able to implement appropriate strategies, such as conflict resolution, when difficulties arise.
- One of the most effective ways to teach your child about healthy relationships is to model positive relationships.
- Characteristics of a healthy relationship include respect – for yourself and for one another; safety – emotionally and physically; support – feeling cared for; fairness and equality; acceptance – of who you really are; honesty and trust; and lastly communication. Good, open communication builds the foundation for all healthy relationships – whether that be between friends or between you and your child.
- How to encourage and foster healthy relationships:
– create opportunities for discussion
– be sensitive to the pressures of adolescence
– create positive connections and interactions with your child – spend time listening and talking to them
– be aware of your child’s use of technology and set age-appropriate limits
– encourage your child’s emotional awareness – the ability to recognise a whole range of feelings and how to express them appropriately
– be involved – encourage and support your child’s interests and involvement in their school or community.
- Talking to your child about how to be assertive is one of those things that can support our young people to build resilience and gain back some power and control. Being assertive is the middle ground between being passive and being aggressive. (How would they tell their friends how they feel? Express a difference in opinion? Ask for help? Or simply say no?).
- Anxiety is closely linked to social interactions and negative experiences. Some general coping strategies to support your child include:
– encouraging good self-care at home (including sleep routines, staying active, eating well)
– or talk about it (with close family/friends, journal)
– notice unhelpful thinking patterns and try to change them (this stems from CBT) if you have a negative thought e.g. ‘Nobody likes me,’ change it into a positive one e.g. ‘I have a few close friends who care about me.’
- Try breathing strategies. As anxiety involves a cycle of physical sensations, working on controlling your breathing can help interrupt that cycle.
- Person-centred thinking tools (Helen Sanderson)
A set of templates to use to give structure to conversations. Templates you might find useful for conversations with your young person are:
– what’s working/not working
– all about me profile
– good day/bad day
- Social skills for teens with ASD (Raising Children Network)
- Friendships (ReachOut)
- Bullying (Kids Helpline)
- Bullying and teenagers (ReachOut)
- The PEERS social skills course (ADHD Support Australia)
- PEERS social skills training videos
- Secret Agent Society
This group program supports children aged 8-12 to learn social and emotional skills. It was developed for children with autism and can also be beneficial for children with ADHD and anxiety.
- Talkabout for teenagers by Alex Kelly
Talkabout for teenagers is a professional workbook supporting educators and therapists who deliver social and relationship skills groups for older children and young adults with social, emotional or behavioural difficulties.
- Source Kids Magazine
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