Would Your Child Benefit From Social Skills Training?
Is your child struggling to make friends? Are you worried because you notice that they can’t seem to “connect” with other people? Is your child often “in his own world,” or “doing her own thing,” even around others? Do they miss seemingly obvious social cues? Do they often miss the joke or not understand why everyone is laughing? Do they have trouble making eye-contact or respecting personal space?
Do you notice that your child often goes on talking for too long or has a tendency to “take over” a conversation? Do they struggle to stay on topic causing others to lose interest in speaking to them? Does your child often blurt out answers or interrupt others? Do they over-share information in inappropriate ways? Is it hard for your child to take someone else’s point of view?
Do they try to play with other kids but end up playing alone? Has your child been routinely bullied? Do they have a difficult time sharing? Is it hard for them to follow the rules of a game? Do they struggle to understand the consequences of their actions? Is it difficult for them to read other people’s feelings?
If many of the behaviors above describe your child, you may be wondering what is going on with your child and if there is anything that you can do to help.
What Are Social Skills?
Social skills are the skills we use to communicate and interact with each other, both verbally and non-verbally through gestures, body language and our personal appearance. All human beings are social creatures and we have developed ways to communicate our thoughts and feelings to each other or to socialize.
In their article, “Development of social skills in children: neural and behavioral evidence for the elaboration of cognitive models” researchers Patricia Soto-Icaza and Pablo Billeke state: “Social skills refer to a wide group of abilities that allow us to interact and communicate with others. Children learn how to solve social situations by predicting and understanding other’s behaviors. The way in which humans learn to interact successfully with others encompasses a complex interaction between neural, behavioral, and environmental elements. These have a role in the accomplishment of positive developmental outcomes, including peer acceptance, academic achievement, and mental health. All these social abilities depend on widespread brain networks that are recently being studied by neuroscience.”
So, while researchers in various fields of human development are working to understand why lagging social skill development happens in the brain and how to prevent it, we – therapists – are focused on how to teach kids social skills that, for whatever reason, they are currently lacking. We are working in the here and now to help your child improve their the behaviors that are holding them back from being their best selves socially, emotionally and academically.
Can Social Skills Be Taught?
In the last ten years, psychologists have become increasingly aware that social skills can, and should, be taught. Many studies have shown that shy children can become outgoing, aggressive children can learn self-control, and children who tend to socially isolate can be taught to make friends. There is no question that children with better social skills have a significant advantage in life. They not only experience the rewards of positive relationships but they do better in school, have a better self-image and in general are more resilient as they face life’s inevitable challenges.
Whether you want to bolster the confidence of a very shy child or need help with an aggressive child, there are multiple things that we can do as parents and professionals to teach young people the skills that they need to create healthy relationships and to thrive socially, emotionally and academically.
Social skills can be taught. Just as with language, math, or art, children and adolescents have different abilities when it comes to social skills. Some children can intuitively sense how other people are feeling while other children might need to develop those skills. Some kids are naturally very social and make friends easily while others need to be concretely taught how to make a friend. You are probably very much aware of where your child or teenager stands in these areas and where they could use further skill development. If you’re not sure how to teach your child social skills, we want you to know that you are not alone and we are here to help!
Social Skills Group Therapy at Cope With School NYC
In our social skills groups, we break down specific skill development into bite-size pieces that your child can learn and internalize so that they can then directly apply these skills at school, in family situations and in their community. Our main goal is to have children and adolescents participate in meaningful social experiences with their peers where they feel connected and successful. We want to equip your child and teen with the skills they will need later in life as research shows the growing importance of social skills in the labor market. We want you and your child to have a set of strategies that you can use to confidently navigate your home, school and any other social environment that you encounter.
Our groups are never larger than 8 participants because we want to make sure that every child receives individualized attention to meet his or her specific needs. Groups meet 1 x per week for 60 minutes and will always encourage reciprocal conversation and play.
A key feature of our groups that is integral to the successful growth and development of our clients is the real-time coaching that our expert clinicians provide group members. Real-time coaching allows clients to practice their social skills with a small group of peers in a safe-space with the guided support and coaching of a clinician. The clinician provides feedback in “real-time” so that clients can truly understand and internalize the what, where, when, and how of the social skill that the group is learning that week.
The overarching components that will be covered in our social skills groups are:
- Communication & Non-Verbal Communication
- Being Part of a Group
- Making Friends
- Expressing Your Feelings
- Caring About Yourself and Others
- Problem Solving
- Listening: A Two-Way Street
- Standing Up For Yourself
- Managing Conflict
Click here for more info on our groups!
Individual Social Skills Counseling For Kids, Teens, And Young Adults
At Cope With School NYC, we also offer individual social skills training for teens, children, and young adults in a 1-on-1 setting with one of our licensed therapists. In an individual setting, the focus is exclusively on your child and helping them hone in on understanding how to effectively problem solve, notice social cues, make and keep friends and express themselves in a safe, warm and supportive setting.
Some examples of the social skills that clinicians might help children and teenagers develop include but are not limited to: making requests politely, asking for help, resisting peer pressure, making and accepting compliments, taking turns in a conversation and entering a group of children who are already playing or talking together. With individual therapy, our clinicians are able to use specific real-life examples of what is occurring in the everyday life of your child to tailor the entire social skill building session around his or her unique needs allowing for customized therapy with undivided support.
We Are Here To Help
When you give your child the self-confidence and tools they need to succeed, you set the groundwork for a happier and more independent adult life. Our compassionate therapists can help your child stop feeling like an outcast and build the confidence to participate more fully in their lives.
If you have more questions or are looking for expert assistance in helping your child develop their social skills, we are here for you. We are located in Manhattan near the Upper West Side, on 79th Street, near the American Museum of Natural History. Contact us today for a free 10-minute phone consultation so we can discuss your child’s needs and answer any questions you may have about our Social Skills treatment plans. We offer individual therapy for grade school students, teens, and young adults. We also offer youth therapy groups to help your child acquire important social skills and parental counseling to help you give your child the structure and support they need.