This multi-factor, broad-based approach is reflected in my definition of social skills
‘Social skills refer to the ability to perceive social cues, control emotional reactions, organize cognitions and produce behaviours with the motivation to achieve socially acceptable outcomes.’
Thus, the critical elements in training social skills must include
The core of the program is the STOP THINK DO social problem solving method. Children learn this method for resolving child/child conflicts, with adults adopting the role of a ‘third person’ facilitator of the process in ongoing peer conflicts. Adults also use STOP THINK DO themselves to manage children’s behaviour in adult/child conflicts, in this case directly sharing the responsibility for problem solving with the child. The steps are largely the same for adult and child, following the traffic light symbol.
While the process initially seems lengthy, it will be shortcut with practice to
|"I feel……..because (problem)"||STOP||"You feel………because (problem)"|
|"What could we try?"||THINK||"What could you try?"|
|"Let’s do it!"||DO||"Do it!"|
This method develops self control, perceptual and communication skills primarily at STOP, cognitive problem solving skills at THINK and behavioural skills at DO. Children with social-behavioural problems are usually stuck at one of these steps. Dependent, immature children are stuck at STOP; they tend not to think or do much for themselves but constantly rely on others. Shy, anxious children are stuck at THINK; they often think too much about what could happen and find it very difficult to choose what to do. Impulsive, aggressive children are stuck at DO; they do and do and rarely stop to think. The program aims to train all children to move comfortably through all steps with positive feedback and support from adults and peers.
In fact, self discipline, self control, self esteem, self confidence as well as maturity, respect, independence, responsibility – all the ethereal qualities we hope our children develop – are outcomes of practicing to stop, think and do over and over again. Children become aware of how to clarify problems and feelings (‘I understand’ at STOP), how to find answers (‘I can think’ at THINK), how to make decisions and act (‘I choose to do’ at DO) and to want to be social when others say ‘You are doing okay'.
The STOP THINK DO social skills/behaviour management program has support from formal research studies and considerable anecdotal data over the past decades. The program has been shown to be useful for
Since its inception by the Federal Government, STOP THINK DO has been a recommended resource for use in preschools and primary schools to promote the emotional-behavioural-social well-being of children in Australian schools.