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Social Skills Training

In: Psychology

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Social Skills Training

Purpose
The purpose of this social skills training is to instill interpersonal problem-solving skills by enhancing interpersonal communication skills, perspective-taking, defining conflicts, goals and generating alternative solution strategies to resolve interpersonal conflicts. As a result, children are more likely to make better judgments when meeting others, initiating interactions, and resolving interpersonal conflicts.
When learning new skills, children need (1) to understand what they are supposed to do; (2) to see the skill demonstrated; and (3) to practice the new skill. Therefore, each module begins with a didactic presentation of the skills (role-playing by facilitator, presentation of dialogues, vignettes or videos), followed by group games, practice and presentation and lastly evaluation of the group practice and the skill acquired.

Target participants
A group of 10 children aged 12 years (in a school or community setting) who have no specific cognitive or emotional problems. Participants should be verbally intelligent to benefit from the training modules.

Module 1: Getting Acquainted and Communication Building
Goal
The goal of the first session is to let participants get acquainted with each other. After the initial ice-breaking, the focus is then turned to developing effective communication skills (assertive instead of passive or aggressive).
Skill
Introducing yourself, stating positives about yourself, stating positives about others, assertive requests
Instruction
Facilitator will give an introduction of the program and define the objectives of the first meeting.
Part A – Getting Acquainted (5 short games or exercises)
Organization
Exercise 1 – Self-introduction
Each child is to introduce him/herself by saying his/her name and say one positive thing about him/her. After everyone has introduced him/herself to the group, everyone can then go grab 2 balloons and inflate it and get ready for next exercise.
Exercise 2 - Catch the Balloon
All children stand in a circle. One tosses a balloon in the air and calls someone's name. That person must catch the balloon before it touches the ground. If the person succeeds he/she then tosses the balloon up and calls the next name.
Exercise 3 - Balloon juggle and sort
Challenge participants to keep all balloons (1+ per person) in the air. This gets the group moving and cooperating. Once they've got the hang of it, make it harder by adding in more balloons or placing restrictions e.g., no hands to keep balloons up. Ask participants to keep juggling the balloons, but to sort them into colors (works best with large groups).
Exercise 4 - Balloon Blow
Divide into teams. Each team stands in a small circle. See which team can keep a balloon aloft the longest using only breath.
Finalization
The teams should discuss the following:
- Which game did they like better?
- Which game was easier: the juggle-and-sort or the balloon-blow;
- Why was one game easier than the other?
- Identify the factor affecting group cooperation and interaction.
Part B – Effective Communication Skills
Organization
Exercise 1 – Stating positives about another person
Facilitator models by saying one positive thing about a child, e.g. Sam is very active and he did a good job in keeping the balloon afloat in the balloon-blow game. Then the child is to say one positive thing about the next child and so on.
Exercise 2 – Making assertive requests
Facilitator presents children with a vignette of an interpersonal conflict. For example, during teamwork, Peter always picks on Susan, what would you say to Peter? Facilitator then models an assertive response to the situation.
Divide the children into groups. Present them with more vignettes and let them brainstorm and come up with possible strategies. Other examples of vignettes can include: (a) you loaned your swim goggles to a friend a long time ago, and you want to ask for them back so you can use them this afternoon. What would you say to your friend? (b) You have a friend who always eats a hot lunch. You told him/her that you would eat a hot lunch with him/her tomorrow, but then you see what's on the menu and you don't like it. You decide not to eat a hot lunch with your friend. What would you say to your friend?
After brainstorming, children can break down into pairs and practice the assertive response they have come up with in each situation, paying attention to eye contact, tone of voice and duration of speech.
Finalization
Each group should present their solutions and the rationale for their solutions. Feedback from facilitator or other group members should be given on the appropriateness or feasibility of the solution. Group members can also evaluate the other on their role-play.
Evaluation
Criteria for module completion
Each child should have introduced him/herself and state one positive about him/herself and others.
Each child should actively participate in the ice-breaking games.
Each child should actively participate in group discussion.

Module 2: Understanding Conflicts: Perspective-taking and Differential Goals
Goal
The goal for the second session is to develop awareness of social cues and perspective-taking, to understand conflicts and to define relevant goals for different conflicting situations.
Skill
Understanding the impact of your behaviors on others, demonstrating the ability to understand the behaviors of others, identifying interpersonal conflicts and defining goals in a conflicting situation
Instruction
Facilitator defines the steps in resolving interpersonal conflicts: (1) define the problem; (2) determine what is important to the person; (3) set a goal; (4) list out at least 3 ways to solve the problem and reach the goal; (5) weight the pros and cons of each alternative approach to reach the goal; (6) select the alternative to act upon; (7) decide how to implement that approach; (8) act out the alternative; and (9) evaluate the outcome.
Facilitator points out that the focus of this meeting is on defining the problem, its significance to the individual and setting a goal.
Part A – Perspective Taking
Organization
Exercise 1 – 2 Truths and 1 Lie
Facilitator hands out cards or paper and pens to the children and explains that each person is to write down 2 truths and 1 lie about themselves. The goal of the game is to a) convince others that your lie is truth (and that one of your truths is the lie) and b) to correctly guess other people's lies. Facilitator allows approximately 5 minutes for children to write down their truths and lies and then instructs the children to walk around and chat with each other about their truths and lies. The goal is to quiz the other person to determine which statements are truths and which statement is the lie, whilst seducing the other person into thinking that your own lie is a truth. Allow 10 to 15 minutes for the interactions. After this, everyone gathers in a circle. One person starts by reading their three statements aloud as a reminder for everyone and then re-read the statements one by one again, stopping to allow a vote for each one. The facilitator should help to bring out the format and ensures the voting process runs smoothly.
The children report how many correct guesses of other people’s lies and also how many children correctly guess his/her own lies. The significance of this game is how one’s words affect the perception of others.
Exercise 2 – All Aboard
This activity requires working together in close physical proximity in order to solve a practical, physical problem. It tends to emphasize group communication, cooperation, patience and problem solving strategy, as well as issues related to physical self and physical proximity.
Facilitator asks the whole group to try to fit inside a small area which can be marked by a small platform, a circle of rope or a tarpaulin or blanket. When the groups succeeds, then the facilitator decreases the area by changing platforms, shrinking the circle or folding the tarp and challenges the group again to see how far they can go.
The group must work together to ensure everyone manages to get aboard the new management structure. As time goes by, the team must become closer to deal with shrinking margins and increased competition.
Finalization
Divide the children into two groups and discuss on the following:
Understanding the Impact Your Behavior Has on Others
1. Decide which behaviors are important to you.
2. Stay in control of those behaviors.
3. State your position.
4. Think about how others feel.
5. Think about what others might say.
6. Help others follow rules.
Demonstrating the Ability to Understand Behavior of Others
1. Listen to what person is saying.
2. Watch what the other person is doing.
3. List reasons why person is saying and feeling what he is.
4. Choose best reason.
5. Decide if you need to say or do anything e.g. suggest another activity or change subject.
6. Follow through.
Part B – Identifying Conflicts & Defining Goals
Organization
Facilitator presents children with a vignette of an interpersonal conflict and models by defining the possible goals in that conflict. Divide the children into groups and ask them to brainstorm interpersonal conflicting situations. After identifying those situations, then the groups should generate a list of goals for the conflicts.
1. Identify a conflict involving 2 or more people
2. Identify the behaviors which cause the conflict
3. Identify the goals of the people involved.
Finalization
The groups re-convene to present their lists of conflicts and related goals:
Facilitator reinforces group participation and points out that people’s behaviors have a bi-directional effect on others. It is because of different behaviors and goals that conflict arise. It is important for children to realize conflicts and to determine the appropriate goals in order to find a proper solution for the conflict.
Evaluation
Criteria for module completion
Children demonstrate their understanding of how their words affect people their participation in exercise 1.
Children should learn cooperative problem solving strategy by active participation in exercise 2.
Children demonstrate the ability to handle personal proximity in participation of exercise 2.
Children demonstrate the ability to identify interpersonal conflicts and define relevant goals by active participation in group discussion and presentation.

Module 3: Goal-setting & Generating Alternative Solution Strategies
Goal
To develop the ability to define goal and to generate at least three solution strategies in each interpersonal conflicting situations
Skill
Defining conflicts and goals and generating alternative solution strategies
Instruction
Facilitator begins session by showing a video depicting a conflict situation, for example, peers arguing over a CD not being returned. Facilitator models by defining the situation, the goals of the people involved and generating possible alternatives to solving the problem. The main focus of this module is for the children to practice generating alternative solutions through the use of a board game.
Organization
The game involves modification of the board game “The Train”. It involves dice, game cards and test cards. Children are divided into groups. Player on each group take turns rolling the dice and moving their pieces around the board. Spaces on the board direct the player to select a game card, which identifies the train station to which he or she must proceed. At the train station, the player picks up a test card that presents the conflict the group must try to solve. An example will be Tom is playing with his basketball. John tries to grab the basketball away from Tom. Within two minutes, the group should define the problem, the goal of the protagonist and three solution strategies to resolve the problem. When the problem is successfully resolved, the group is awarded a star. The group with the most stars at the end of the journey wins the game.
Finalization
The groups provide feedback on what they learn from the game.
Evaluation
Criteria for module completion
Children demonstrating the ability to generate at least three solution strategies for each conflicting situation presented in the board game.

Module 4: Putting Everything Together – Interpersonal Problem-Solving
Goal
To apply and reinforce the previously learnt skills of recognizing social cues, assertive communication, problem definition and generation of solution strategies through role-playing
Skill
Defining interpersonal conflicts, generating alternatives, weighing the alternatives, deciding on one solution strategy, implementation of solution and evaluation of outcome
Instruction
Facilitator introduces the use of Feelings Thermometer – a scale from 0 to 100 – that represents the level of a particular feeling in different situations, e.g., happiness or anger. 0 means a low level and 100 means a high level. The person at or near 0 is better able to think and make decisions regardless of the particular emotions.
Facilitator reiterates the steps to successful conflict resolution and introduces the role-play.
Organization
Facilitator can ask the group to pick one of the conflict situations brain-stormed in session two or come up with a new one to act out. For example, “Your friend wants to see your test paper and answers during a test.”
Facilitator assigns two or more persons as the principal actors and then assigns coaches and directors for the role-play. The coach is to offer suggestions to the principal actors what to say during the role-play. The director of the scene determines who is to play which part, where the scene is taking place and who will speak first.
Facilitator further assigns other group members to monitor the interaction, a person to watch eye contact, a person to watch body language, a person to watch gestures or voice tone.
The rest of the group should be asked to pay close attention because group leaders will be asking for their suggestions about other ways to play the scene. Be sure that each person understands his/her role.
After preparation, the role-play takes place.
Finalization
1. Ask the principal actors to assess where their Feeling Thermometers are at this moment. 2. Ask the actors what aspect they liked about what they did.
3. Ask the actors what words or acts they would change.
4. Sequentially ask group members observing eye contact and body language to report one positive aspect they observed and what these observations suggest about the actors’ feelings.
5. Ask the coaches to express what they think the principal actors may have been thinking but not saying to the other person.
6. Ask coaches and other group members to share where their Feeling Thermometers are.
7. Ask group members to make suggestions to the principal actors or coaches on one thing they might do differently.
8. Finally, role-play the scene again with a different stated outcome.
Evaluation
Criteria for module completion
Children demonstrate ability to identify the conflict and define goals.
Children demonstrate ability to generate alternative solution strategies.
Children demonstrate ability to pick out one solution and implement it.
Children demonstrate ability to observe eye contact, body language, tone of voice to reflect on the assertive communication skills.

Conclusion
Interpersonal problem-solving or conflict resolution is a complex behavior which involves different subsets of skills. It is hoped that this program can raise children’s awareness of their own action, the bilateral effect of actions and behaviors and differential goals in conflicts. With this ability, children are better at deciphering social cues and are more flexible in generating socially competent solution strategies in dealing with everyday interpersonal problems.…...

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