Ask any parent or teacher and they will likely say one of the top three things they want for their child or student is a few solid, kind friends. We promote kindness, watch children’s shows that demonstrate being a good friend like Mr. Rogers, and plan play dates to have plenty of social interactions when they’re young. Then we observe with anticipation as they interact with peers, hoping to see budding friendships blossom. For some, though, building those friendships is a daunting task, not one that comes naturally.

Building friendships can be difficult for a number of reasons. Weak social skills manifests as talking too much at inappropriate times, being unaware of social cues, or taking things too literally and, thus, missing sarcasm and jokes. In addition, struggles with listening and focus can inhibit positive peer interactions, causing others to withdraw from the struggling child.

If you see this struggle in your child, social skills small groups might be just the thing to grow in this. A strong social skills program practices social conventions of introductions and role-playing dialogs as well as problem solving. As children do this, they strengthen their listening comprehension skills and can then use these skills in daily peer interactions. With practice comes increased self-confidence which leads to the ability to navigate friendship challenges that will inevitably arise. As Mr. Rogers taught us, “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It’s an active noun, like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now”.

Whether you find yourself caring for a child or young adult that could benefit from guided social skills practice or a sibling that could use some help understanding the challenges their brother or sister faces, consider calling Fick Educational Services for more information about our social skills groups. We are forming new groups to start up in October and would love to have you join us! Check out our website at email us at fickeducation@gmail.comfor more information.

Always remember one of the lessons Mr. Rogers taught us: “There are three ways to ultimate success. The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.”