By Ron Elve
No parent will be surprised to hear that recent research highlights the increasing importance of competent social skills and behavior. The direction in which a child’s social skills are trending can be apparent as early as kindergarten, and thus the behaviors can be modified before they become problematic set behaviors and emotional patterns.
“Just say no” is often cited as a solution, but why let any situation, especially the big ones, such as drug abuse, undesirable sex, and bullying, to name a few, get to the stage where “no” is required?! Instead, parents should be aware of signs such as body language and language which hints at potential problems. Of course these may only be clues, but early awareness can go a long way here. Often, a “watch and wait attitude” can be taken subject to further observation and clues.
In addition, parents can turn to children’s publications such as the monthly Highlights. Social interaction scenarios include “Thinking,” “Goofus and Gallant” and “Your Best Self.” Once parents familiarize themselves with these scenarios, they will be able to make up their own. And depending on the child’s age, parents may even suggest that the child come up with some scenarios himself.
Watching a movie on DVD together and stopping at relevant points to discuss situations and behaviors, maybe even guessing what will happen and what should happen, can be great!
And, finally, a parent should take the time to praise some aspects of the child’s behavior, explain what their hopes are for the child, and (none of us are perfect) also indicate where the child might improve. Then, stop, look and listen!
Ron Elve (RonElve@aol.com) is tutoring and mentoring in the West Village.