Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Using Video Self-Modeling and the Peer Group to Increase the Social Skills of a Preschool Child

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Psychology

Using Video Self-Modeling and the Peer Group to Increase the Social Skills of a Preschool Child

Article excerpt

The development of social skills in the preschool years is considered crucial to the development of later social, academic and behavioural competence (Brown, Odom, & Conroy, 2001; McCabe & Altamura, 2011). However, achieving positive social relationships in preschool is a complex process which seems to require--at a minimum--age-appropriate language, and the the effective management of negative emotions. However, there are also a host of specific skills that may be required. In particular, children might need to know how to interact with peers by engaging in positive communications and behaviours that not only enhance the play, but increase the likelihood of positive interactions continuing. For example, children might need to learn how to accept invitations and initiate activities. However, perhaps most importantly they might need to know how to sustain positive interactions with peers by engaging in positive communications and cooperating with others. This positive behaviour includes sharing, taking turns and negotiating with others to manage disagreements and conflicts (Elliot, Roach, & Beddow, 2008; Girolametto & Weitzman, 2007). While all children require some support from caregivers and teachers to develop positive social relationships with peers, there are some children who struggle to achieve a desirable level of social skill and may require specialised support (Elliot et al., 2008; Guralnick, 1993).

There are numerous causal factors for poor social skills development in young children, including language and developmental delays, behavioural disorders (Walker, Ramsey, & Gresham, 2004) and autism spectrum disorder (Koegel, Koegel, Hurley, & Frea, 1992; Wang & Spillane, 2009). As deficits in social skills can lead to poor academic performance, problem behaviour (Brown et al., 2001; January, Casey, & Paulson, 2011; O'Shaughnessy, Lane, Gresham, & Beebe-Frankenberger, 2002) and peer rejection (Ladd, 1990; Walker et al., 2004), early intervention is critical (Elliot et al., 2008).

The goals of social skills intervention should typically be to increase positive peer interactions, reduce or eliminate problem behaviours, and to achieve generalisation and maintenance of skills acquired. January et al. (2011) found that social skills training is most effective when it is implemented in preschool or kindergarten. Preschools are natural settings for social skills interventions because preschool education emphasises social development rather than academic achievement.

One potentially effective method of intervention for social skill development has been the use of video modeling (VM) and video self-modeling (VSM). These approaches have their origins in Bandura's theory of social learning (Bandura, 1977) and are considered to be both time and cost-effective. The video models performing the appropriate behaviours are ideally similar in age, gender, and ethnicity to the target child. In the case of VSM, the target child him- or herself is used to depict the target behaviour (Dowrick, 1999) These approaches are considered relatively unobtrusive ways to teach desired behaviour or reduce undesired behaviour (Ballard & Crooks, 1984; Kehle, Bray, Margiano, Theodore, & Zhou, 2002; Keller & Carlson, 1974). VM and VSM have been employed successfully as social skills interventions with preschoolers with autism spectrum disorders (e.g., Buggey, 2012; Buggey, Hoomes, Sherberger, & Williams, 2011; D'Ateno, Mangiapanello, & Taylor, 2003; Litras, Moore, & Anderson, 2010). For example, Litras et al. (2010) employed VSM to increase the social behaviour of a 3.5 year old with autism and limited social skills. There were increases across all three targeted social behaviours.

While VSM has been found to be a successful intervention with preschool age children with and without ASD, according to a review by Buggey and Ogle (2012) relatively little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of either VSM or VM with preschool children who exhibit problem behaviours, such as aggression toward peers. …

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