Teaching Summertime Social Skills Written by: Lyris Steuber, A Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

Summer is fast approaching and by now your kids probably have a touch of summer fever. They are anxious to get out of school and may have difficulty concentrating on their work. They daydream about going to nearby theme parks, playing all day and perhaps seeing old friends at summer camp. With the flurry of activity that summer brings, it is important for them to continue learning healthy social skills.

Social skills are those communication, problem-solving, decision making, self-management, and peer relations abilities that allow one to initiate and maintain positive relationships with others. Deficits in social behavior may interfere with a child’s self-esteem, learning, or social development. A child with good social skills has the self-confidence to say no to peer pressure, has the ability to stand up assertively to bullies, listens well and displays correct manners.

If you see that your child may have deficits in these areas, there are many ways you can guide them towards better social skills. First, model appropriate behavior. Whether in the line at Universal Studios or waiting at the airport for a delayed flight, your child is watching how you cope with stressful situations. Be honest about your feelings and admit if you are feeling anxious. Using skills such as deep breathing, stretching, telling jokes helps teach your child how to act when things don’t always go his or her way.

Second, role-play social situations that may challenge your child: telling the truth, not winning their baseball game, coping with gossip from friends. Third generalize social skills to the real world. For example, once your child does well at waiting his turn when playing with his sister, have him practice this skill when waiting in line for ice cream.

Finally, reward positive efforts. Use praise and small rewards when your child does well. However, let your child know that the real rewards for displaying positive social skills are intrinsic: self-confidence and harmonious relationships.

Written by: Lyris Steuber, A Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist who is part of the LifeWorks Group, Inc. in Winter Park, FL 407-647-7005

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