Cycles of Conversation: The Role of Social Skills Groups with Young Children

Article excerpt

"Talk to me: Practicing the art of conversation-what preschool experts call "cycles of conversation" is another goal for the year. Taking turns to talk is about a growing sense of respect for others, an important piece of the school-preparation puzzle. Same goes for asking for permission before taking that red crayon." (www.brainhealthandpuzzles.com/preschool_brain_development.html)

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In the clinic setting I often encounter children who, sad to say, seem to have a sense of entitlement. "I see it, I want it, I'll take it," without regard to who might be using the item or the consequences of what taking the said item might produce.

These kids come from "good homes" and go to "good schools". What is the issue? Why haven't they learned the basic concepts of respect for self and others?

It would be too easy to say that indulgence is the answer, and it is certainly part of the answer. The other is that we have, in many cases, allowed for technology to speak to our children more than we do.

Nothing can replace human touch and interaction for teaching. It is important to learn through experimenting, what is appropriate and binding, and what is coarse and rejecting in our daily interactions. Speaking to our children is a primary source of how children learn to speak to others.

And children learn by observing. If one parent is routinely putting another parent "down" verbally, than the child may naturally assume that it is OK to talk to the chastised parent in the same manner. This is often although not always translated into the way and manner that child interacts with other adults such as teacher, caregivers, etc.

On the other hand, allowing the child to "explain himself away" instead of owning his or her behavior is just as detrimental to the development of positive social skills. Teaching a child to accept "no" as answer is a life skill that will stand well in both home and school situations.

When a child sees aggression as power and he sees him or herself as not so powerful, the urge to mimic the bossy behaviors seen in close adults (such as parents) can result in what is seen as aggressive or bullying behaviors in children by teachers etc.

A child learns respect for others by seeing the significant adults in his or her life showing respect for each other. A child learns self-respect by living in a culture of respect and feeling secure in the limits of his immediate world, home and school. …