School is starting and I bet there are a few thoughts on your mind about your kid:
- Is he going to focus on homework?
- Will he get good grades?
- Will he like his teachers (also, will his teachers like him)
- Will he make friends that aren’t troublemakers?
- Can he keep friends?
And if your child has historically been struggling with social skills, this issue might be even more on your mind.
Here’s a simple strategy that I love, tell parents to use, and use in my own work with children in my therapy practice: read your child books that talk about social skills.
Here are the books I regularly use. They are all from the Cheri J. Meiners’ Learning to Get Along series:
These books discuss in a kid friendly way:
- Working through challenging situations without blowing up or giving up
- Safe and healthy alternatives to aggression
- Strategies for reaching out and making friends
The books depict the main character having troubles with these social skills, how it affects him, strategies he tried to help him overcome the challenges, and the positive outcome of using those strategies.
I’m betting that when you ask your child how your day went he says “I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about it.” But you know something happened, either from his body language or because a teacher alerted you to a problem at school.
Books can normalize the challenges your kid is experiencing, and can help your child identify the problem behavior without your kid having to admit he has a problem (because we all know how hard that is!).
The reading level is 1st grade for the books I mentioned, but I even use them with kids who are in upper elementary school and starting middle school. Really, no matter the age of your child these books can still be a help.
It does take encouragement to talk with him about reading a book together. Unless your kid is a reader, this will not be his idea of a fun activity to do. You might hear him say: “I don’t want to read a book! I want to play video games!” Or “I haven’t read a book with my mom since I was 4!”
Stick with it because it really can be a helpful task to give your kid the insight he needs and the support you deserve.
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.