Teaching Social Skills
To Kids Who Don't Have Them

condensed from http://maxweber.hunter.cuny.edu/pub/eres/EDSPC715_MCINTYRE/SocialSkills.html

Why Don't Our Kids Have Social Skills?
Many of our youngsters never learned "appropriate behavior" for social settings (situations in which they must interact/cope with others). Displaying poor social skills is likely to get one rejected by others (other kids don't like them and won't associate with them). At other times, our pupils may still fail because they have difficulty monitoring and controlling their behavior when unexpected reactions occur. They misread social cues given off by others.

What Exactly Is Social Skills Training?
1. "Manners" & positive interaction with others

2. Appropriate classroom behavior

3. Better ways to handle frustration/anger

4. Acceptable ways to resolve conflict with others



Select the students who need training in certain skills (via assessment)

Identify powerful reinforcers that will motivate the students to attend to lessons and attempt new behaviors. (examples: group and/or individual points, raffle tickets, progressively moving a paper dog along the wall toward a food bowl which earns a reward)

Identify and specifically define the target behaviors to be taught. Decide which behaviors are needed. Define them precisely so that everyone agrees on what is to be accomplished (...what the student will be able to do/show after instruction).

Task analyze the target behavior(s) (if this listing of sequenced actions is not done for you by a packaged program. If you are unfamiliar with task analysis, read the link on the home page)

Teaching social skills
-Create groups of 2-5 youngsters with similar skill deficits. Small groups give students a chance to observe others, practice with peers, and receive feedback.

-Remove obstacles to learning (examples: close class door, remove corrections officers)

-Meet early in the day so that kids are attentive and have the whole day to practice what they learn in your lesson.

-Introduce the program, it's content, and why and how it will benefit them (examples: will help them to return to general education classes, help them obtain and keep a job, result in less trouble with teachers/parents, impress their boyfriend's/girlfriend's parents when they meet them, be able to convince the police to let them go when stopped).

-Set up the rules and regulations (Identify the behaviors you'll reward during lessons...one person speaks at a time, pay attention, be positive...all of which may need to be taught in the initial lessons)

-Teach the easy-to-learn skills first to ensure student (and teacher) success and reinforcement. Use the traditional teaching models
Teach to the high status kids in your group first...have them demonstrate the new behaviors and be rewarded. Have your lower status kids demonstrate the behaviors after the leaders do so. Make sure the lessons are interesting and fun so that kids look forward to the

-Promote generalization to different settings/circumstances

-Monitor the behavior outside of the lessons.

-Recognize and reward it's display in everyday school situations. When you see a good situation for a student to display a "new" behavior, prompt it's use with cues and hints


1. Look at this list of commonly needed social skills. Think of students you know who would most benefit from instruction in each one. (You could use this list as your assessment device and assign students to groups by skills)
-Saying please and thank you
-Dealing better with anger and frustration
-Asking questions appropriately
-Accepting the consequences administered by the teacher
-Accepting responsibility for one's own (mis)behavior
-Dealing with losing/frustration/making mistake/insults in an appropriate manner (without yelling or physical aggression)
-Initiating a conversation with others
-Accepting "No" for an answer
-Joining a group activity already in progress
-Following directions
-Making friends
-Compliments others
-Understanding the feelings of others (and accepting them as valid/OK)
-Compromising on issues
-Cooperating with peers
-Coping with taunts and verbal/physical threats/aggression from others
-Seeking attention in an appropriate manner
-Waiting one's turn

2. Behaviorally/specifically define the following behaviors that you might decide to teach
-Asking permission
-Avoiding fighting with others
-Interrupting others appropriately
-Showing sports(wo)manship

3. Task analyze the following behaviors
-Following Directions
-Respecting the opinions of others
-Accepting praise from others
-Apologizing for wrong doing
-Greeting others

4. A student displays social skills that appropriate in his/her cultural group, but are not desirable in the mainstream North American culture When, how and why should they act?

5. Obtain a social skills curriculum, such as:

A. Goldstein. Skillstreaming Perhaps the most popular programs for teaching social skills. You find get more information at http://www.uscart.org/ssadolescent.htm and

A. Goldstein. The Prepare Curriculum (for adolescents). You can find more information at

Basic Social Skills for Youth. Available from www.girlsand boystown.org/btpress

Boys Town Curriculum. Available from www.girlsandboystown.org/btpress

T. Dowd & J. Tierney Teaching Social Skills to Youth: A curriculum for child-care providers.
Available from

Darlene Mannix. Life skills activities for special children.

J. Stanfield (1992). Be Cool. Provides videos and activities for teaching elementary age students to cope with teasing, anger, criticism, and bullying. Find more information at the James Stanfield Publishing Company web site.

Go to: Using Social Quotient surveys to help in social skills training

Go to: Training Tips on Social Skills

Go to: Home Page

Comments to: VanSloan@yahoo.com
Web SQ.4mg.com (this website, 170+ pages on IQ and Success skills)

The ads below are placed by Google.com - they are not necessarily endorsed by this site