Teaching Social Skills.

Essay by sezzy_mCollege, UndergraduateA, May 2003

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Coping with students who display social problems can be difficult. Teaching social skills to these children takes time, effort and patience (Brophy, 1996). That is why it is a good idea to take action before the problem becomes too serious. One of the most important factors for successful student socialization depends on a teacher's ability to adopt an authoritative teaching style for classroom management. This means that teachers should exert leadership and exercise control, but at the same time be supportive of students. They should always supply reasons for their actions.

There are many attributes of a successful teacher. The following attributes put together by Good and Brophy (1995) all contribute to the success of a student.

*Social attractiveness: Based on a cheerful disposition, friendliness, emotional maturity and sincerity.

*Ego strength: Teachers need to be calm in a crisis, listen actively, avoid win-lose conflicts and maintain a problem-solving orientation.

*Realistic perception of self and students

*Enjoyment of students: Being friendly but not over familiar and being comfortable with the group without becoming a group member.

*Clarity about teaching roles: Comfort in playing these roles. Explaining to students what their expectations are of them.

*Patience and determination: In working with students who persist to push limits.

*Acceptance of the individual: Always the individual but not always his/her behaviour.

*The ability to state and act on firm and flexible limits: Based on clear expectations, keeping rules to a minimum and liberalizing them as students become more independent and responsible over time.

Through developing these roles, teachers can create the potential for having a significant impact on students' lives.


Do you agree or disagree with the above attributes of a successful teacher?

Are there any other attributes that you think are important for a teacher to have?

What are your memories of the teachers at primary school?

After examining the attributes of a successful teacher, it is important to acknowledge the social behaviours in order to assess the children's behaviour.

When examining a child's behaviour, the starting point is usually the assessment of friendship skills. Here are nine factors of social behaviour in relation to friendship skills that children will participate in:

1. Entry skills: How a child joins a group of children and how they welcome other children into their group.

2. Assistance: Recognizing when and how to provide assistance as well as seeking assistance from others.

3. Criticism: Knowing when and how to criticize someone and how to take criticism.

4. Accepting suggestions: Incorporating the ideas of others in the activity.

5. Reciprocity and sharing: An equitable distribution of conversation, direction and resources.

6. Conflict resolution: Managing disagreement with compromise and recognizing the opinions of others.

7. Monitoring and listening: Monitoring contribution to the activity and body language.

8. Empathy: Recognizing positive and negative feelings of others.

9. Avoiding and ending: The appropriate behaviour and comments to end the interaction or to maintain it.

(Attwood & Gray, 1999-2001)

After observing the children's friendship skills, it is important to use behavioural and cognitive strategies in order to maintain those friendship skills (Attwood, 2002). If the skills mentioned above occur, then it is vital that such behaviour is recognized and rewarded.

Observation Checklist

This checklist is a really good idea for teachers to fill out after observing the children in class. Teachers can acknowledge what a child's' qualities are as well as what factors need improvement and working on before it becomes too late. In this observation checklist, the nine factors of social behaviours are closely looked at and then evaluated.


Due to teachers playing such large roles in students' lives, it is vital for teachers to carefully look at the social skills of the students. Teachers must put the above factors into practice in order to maximize a student's skills. If a student appears to show any lack of socialization skills, teachers must address the issue from a very early stage otherwise it will only become harder to solve the problem.


1.What are three factors of social behaviours?

2.Name an attribute of a successful teacher and explain what it is.

3.Teaching social skills to children takes time, effort and what???

4.Why is the observation checklist so useful?

5.What should a teacher do if he/she sees a child in the class lacking social skills?

References (and other useful sources)

Attwood, T. & Gray, C. (2002). Understanding and Teaching Friendship Skills. [Internet]. Available from: [Accessed 8 August, 2002).

Bolten, R (1987). People skills: How to assert yourself, listen to others, and resolves conflicts. Australia: Simon & Schuster.

Brophy, J. (1996). Enhancing Students' Socialization: Key Elements. [Internet]. Available from: [Accessed 8 August, 2002).

McGrath, H. & Kirschenbaum, DS. (1992). Friendly kids, friendly classrooms. Melbourne: Longman.

Mekitarian, T. (1996). Focus forty: A whole school forty week social skills program.

Lesson Plan


At the end of this discussion, it is hoped that the participants in my group have gained a good understanding of teaching social skills. They will have learnt why it is important to teach social skills to children, how to teach social skills and what social skills need to be taught. This workshop aims to form continuous group discussion and new ideas.


Each member in the discussion group will be given a handout explaining all the key elements of social skills.

Throughout the discussion, the group will be shown a small poster displaying an observation checklist useful to all teachers.

At the end of this handout there is a quiz that the members will participate in and receive lollies for correct answers.


The topic "teaching social skills" will be introduced and a small summary will be given. After this, the attributes of a successful teacher will be pointed out followed by a discussion with the group, where set questions will also be asked. Once the discussion has finished, the factors of social behaviour will be looked at and then the observation checklist will be displayed and discussed. There will be a quick conclusion followed by a small quiz referring back to what has been talked about throughout this workshop.


Were the participants able to gain a good understanding of the topic?

Was there much discussion throughout the workshop?

Were there any new ideas or input from the group members?

Did the workshop flow well?