Our children face many academic challenges throughout the year. We may not consider, however, that they also face the challenge of carefully establishing and maintaining social relationships with their peers. This task is most critical for our adolescents where social relationships are of prime importance to them. Evidence shows that this can be a great hurdle for children with language delays as well as for those with emotional or behavioral issues. However, around 65% of these students will improve when given direct social skills interventions. Further, research demonstrates that students who have positive social interactions and relationships with their peers are more academically engaged and have higher levels of academic achievement.
Social skills are defined as behaviors that an individual uses to perform competently on social tasks in social situations. These are behaviors that can be taught, learned and performed. Social competence is how well individuals have mastered the use of these individual social skills. Social competence is something we all continually strive to achieve. My goal as a speech language pathologist is to have my students achieve social competence while offering specific social skills training including:
- Vocabulary development (e.g. social language, idioms, sarcasm)
- Peer relationships (e.g. offering help, inviting play)
- Self management (e.g. developing empathy, controlling temper, compromising, conflict resolution strategies)
- Compliance (e.g. following rules)
- Assertion (e.g. initiating, turn taking, perspective taking)
- Recognizing and correcting mistakes and generalization strategies
A student’s individual social needs can be developed through specific social skills training. As a student begins to master these skills they can improve their social competence. In turn they will experience the joy of developing and maintaining social relationships, improve their confidence and self esteem.
Written by Helen Wolf, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech Language Pathologist