An important part of growing up is learning how to understand and behave with other people. This is necessary in order to be accepted and to cope in society. We have to learn conventions, how to greet others, what can be said, what should not be said, what is tactless and how best to interact with our fellow citizens. Part of growing up is acquiring conventions that help us to get on well with other people.
Behavioural problems in children are due by and large to some failure to learn to control their own behaviour and to comply with social norms. This is much harder for children with general moderate learning difficulties. This book provides a number of Social Skills Training (SST) sessions: aimed at 13–17-year-old students with moderate learning difficulties. The sessions have been shown to be useful.
An aspect of behaviour can be changed by the way we think about the behaviour and feelings associated with it. If we change the way we think about our behaviour, we can change the behaviour and act differently. This can happen through verbal mediation or through observation of other people's behaviour and learning from it. Behaviour is also influenced by its consequences, such as praise and reward or reprimand. The young child will learn to control temper tantrums and develop more socially acceptable strategies to achieve his or her aims. Most children who fail to control their temper and aggressive outbursts may be considered as showing maladapted responses to their frustrations, and these responses need to be corrected.
SST involves teaching new skills or correcting false patterns of behaviour and thinking. Inappropriate behaviour reflects an error or distortion in the thinking process of the child who exhibits the behaviour, so one has to teach the missing skills, such as problem-solving or self-instructional training or self-control. SST aims to teach individuals to be more precise and accurate in their information processing, and therefore includes cognitive restructuring. SST teaches the child to identify non-verbal and verbal social clues.