Therapeutic Interventions

Assess the child's social-emotional adjustment and relationships with friends and peers. (1, 2)

Identify existing friendships, peer relationships, and significant others who offer acceptance and a feeling of belonging to the child. (3, 4)

1. Ask the parents to informally assess their child's social-emotional adjustment and ability to form positive relationships with peers by listing areas of strengths and weaknesses.

2. Instruct the parents to obtain social-emotional assessments and informal data from the child's school and other social experiences.

3. Assign the parents to engage the child in creating a list of significant relationships (or assign the "Social Influences in My Child's Life" activity from

3. Arrange for and encourage the child to engage in positive social interactions with peers. (5, 6, 7)

4. Utilize effective communication strategies with the child. (8, 9)

the Parenting Skills Homework Planner by Knapp).

4. Council the parents to rate the child's social acceptance in various areas (e.g., family, peer group, neighborhood) on a scale of one to five in each area and compare their ratings to the child's personal assessment.

5. Instruct the parents to arrange opportunities for positive social interaction for the child (e.g., play groups, church activities, Boy/Girl Scouts).

6. Assign the parents to brainstorm and role play with the child strategies for establishing friendships (e.g., smiling, conversing, taking turns).

7. Council the parents to define empathy for the child (e.g., understanding another's feelings and perceptions versus focusing only on one's own thoughts and feelings) and discuss the role of empathy in maintaining friendships and positive relationships.

8. Role play with the parents the use of "I" messages (see Teaching Children Self-Discipline at Home and at School by Gordon) and the Bug-Wish Technique (e.g., "It bugs me when you . . . I wish you would . . "); assign them to teach the child to use these strategies in response to negative behavior from others.

9. Define active listening (see Teaching Children Self-Discipline at Home and at School by Gordon) for the

5. Teach appropriate social skills to the child at home through discussion and example. (10, 11)

6. Teach the child to be tolerant, empathetic, and respectful of others. (12, 13)

7. Model positive interpersonal strategies by engaging the child in numerous interactive parent/child and family-based activities. (14, 15)

parents (e.g., listening without interruption, decoding the other person's message, and reflecting back the perceived message); assign them to practice this technique during conversations with the child.

10. Encourage the parents to help the child develop strategies for resolving peer problems using a mutual storytelling process with the child that describes the problem and develops a possible solution.

11. Assign the parents to teach loving and respectful sibling interaction in the home by stressing the concept of unique rather than equal to govern the distribution of love and other family resources to encourage all family members to treat one another with respect and dignity.

12. Instruct the parents to list intolerant family perceptions (e.g., racial slurs, ethnic stereotypes) that negatively influence the child's ability to accept differences in others.

13. Assign the parents to brainstorm with the child roadblocks to positive peer interaction and list strategies for building bridges between diverse groups (e.g., eat lunch with an unfamiliar student, welcome new students to the school).

14. Assign the parents to brainstorm with the child a list of entertaining parent/child activities (e.g., board games, collaborative cooking, reading

8. Enroll the child in school activities and programs designed to promote healthy peer interaction. (16, 17)

9. Become active in parent meetings within the child's school. (18, 19)

10. Monitor and communicate with the child about peer group values, expectations, and activities. (20, 21)

together) and select one or two per week for family participation.

15. Familiarize the child with community and cultural social norms and expectations through participation in family gatherings, faith-based events, and outings with family friends.

16. Assign the parents to enroll the child in a school-sponsored social skills group for students having difficulty with interpersonal relationships.

17. Encourage the parents to endorse the child's participation in life skills classes offered by the school and to discuss the strategies and values taught.

18. Instruct the parents to become active in parent/school activities to offer encouragement for the child's participation and to become familiar with the school's atmosphere and culture.

19. Council the parents to maintain regular contact with the child's teacher, counselor, and other parents of the child's friends and peer group members.

20. Assign the parents to list their perceptions of the child's current peer group influences and compare their perceptions with the child's view-point (or assign the "Peer Pressures, Values, and Influences" activity from the Parenting Skills Homework Planner by Knapp).

21. Identify for the parents the power of using referential speaking (explaining while

11. Encourage the child to participate in positive social and extracurricular activities of interest. (22, 23)

12. Set reasonable limits for the child's involvement with friends and in peer group activities. (24, 25)

13. Teach the child strategies for dealing with negative peer pressure and solving peer doing) to emphasize to the child the importance of adhering to personal and/or family values when faced with opposing peer values (e.g., "I follow through with my commitments, I call home when my plans have changed.").

22. Assign the parents to collaborate with their child to list the various extracurricular activities offered by the school or community and to support the child in selecting one group or activity for involvement.

23. Instruct the parents to contract with the child to balance employment, social activities, academics, healthy lifestyle, and other commitments and to intervene and limit activities when the balance becomes inappropriate.

24. Advise the parents to set limits for the child's interaction with peers (e.g., age-appropriate curfew, advising of whereabouts) that can be modified depending on the level of responsibility demonstrated by the child.

25. Council the parents that granting permission for the child to participate in nonschool sponsored activities should require that the child present a plan detailing reasonable strategies for parent-approved behavior.

26. Assign the parents to read Mop, Moondance, and the Nagasaki Knights (Meyers)

relationship problems. (26, 27)

14. Assist the child in developing conflict resolution strategies to deal with social conflict. (28, 29)

15. Encourage the child to demonstrate responsibility for personal behavior and to develop positive alternatives to socially inappropriate behavior. (30, 31)

with their child to illustrate how positive peer problem solving (win/win) helps to strengthen friendships.

27. Instruct the parents to work with the school to develop effective anti-bullying programs and policies (e.g., an awareness campaign, classroom discussions and rules, conflict-resolution).

28. Council the parents to brainstorm with the child appropriate, socially acceptable methods of dealing with the triggers and targets of aggressive or inappropriate social interactions (e.g., use an "I" statement, walk away, use humor, take a personal time out, get help from an adult).

29. Assign the parents to assist the child in creating a conflict resolution chart that lists various ways to solve a dispute (e.g., share, take turns, listen, talk it over) for use when trying to solve peer conflicts.

30. Instruct the parents to require that the child make amends for disrespectful, negative behavior in the home by: (1) Identifying the damage done by inappropriate personal actions and (2) apologizing and pledging to correct the hurtful behavior.

31. Assign the parents to read Everything I Do You Blame on Me (Abern) with the child to stress the importance of taking responsibility for personal

16. Support programs that promote a sense of belonging in the classroom and community. (32, 33)

17. Promote responsible social interaction with peers at school and in the community. (34, 35)

actions both at home and in social settings.

32. Advise the parents to encourage the teacher and other school personnel to involve the child in reciprocal activities that enhance a feeling of belonging and self-worth (e.g., one-to-one chats, daily greetings, reciprocal smiles).

33. Instruct the parents to encourage the child to participate in a volunteer effort designed to help others that requires cooperation and team playing (e.g., school food drive, becoming a conflict manager, working with Habitat for Humanity).

34. Council the parents to provide the child with many home-based opportunities to develop leadership qualities and responsibility (e.g., babysitting, teaching a skill to a sibling, completing weekly chores) to enhance self-confidence and independent social functioning.

35. Instruct the parents to encourage the child to initiate one new social interaction each week and chart the progress at a subsequent counseling session.

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