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The Socially Skilled Kids Blog

THE BEST WAYS TO DECREASE CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS

 
Challenging Behaviors are always a hot topic and could probably be discussed 
All. Year. Long.
 
But when you think about it, we really do talk about challenging behaviors all year long, because we talk about social skills.  And I believe, that most challenging behaviors are a direct result of a lack of social skills. 
 
 
 
Of course, there are some mental health disorders that can cause very significant behavior challenges, for example, Oppositional Defiance Disorder {ODD} and Conduct Disorder {CD), but for the purposes of this discussion, we will be talking about challenging behaviors that are most likely due to a lack of, or poorly developed, social skills.
 
This social skills deficit may be due to factors such as; Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, Developmental Delay, Speech and Language Delay, Learning Disabilities or Environmental Factors.
 
With the support of the student’s Team, we can have a positive...
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UNDERSTANDING THE DEVELOPMENT {AND SPLINTER SKILLS} OF PERSPECTIVE TAKING

Engaging successfully in Perspective Taking requires a lot of  “splinter skills.”

While there is a developmental scope and sequence for Perspective Taking, for our kiddos, development is usually uneven, and skills are often scattered; leaving us trying to figure out what to teach, much like a puzzle.

 

 

I recommend spending some time figuring out, as best you can, where the student is at {in their perspective taking development} and which skills are lacking.  Then, start your teaching with the developmentally earliest skill on that list, and move along up the scale as you see success.

 

WHAT IS THE TYPICAL DEVELOPMENT OF PERSPECTIVE TAKING?

 

Here is a very basic overview:

Preschoolers:  These kiddos are just starting to figure out that people can have different feelings than they do.  This is at a very basic level…they mostly still think that other people share their feelings. 

 Kindergarten – Second...

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UNDERSTANDING AND TEACHING PERSPECTIVE TAKING IN SPECIAL EDUCATION

WHAT IS PERSPECTIVE TAKING?

 
Perspective Taking is the ability to look beyond one’s own point of view and consider how others may feel about something.  To take another’s perspective, one must have Theory of Mind, that is, understand that others have thoughts, feelings and opinions that may be different and are independent of your own. 
 

Why is Perspective Taking Important?

 
  • Because we do not live in isolation {We are often around others}
  • Because we often feel differently or have different experiences {than do our peers} 
  • Because we need to take perspective to successfully work and play with others
  • Because perspective taking allows us to make and keep friends {jobs and romantic partners}
 

So how can we help our special students, develop and improve their perspective taking skills?

 

 

Below is a list of some important splinter skills that I think are essential to teach, in order to improve their...
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HOW TO RESPOND TO THE STUDENT WHO ALWAYS ARGUES

Do you have a student who is always arguing and/or analyzing everything you {and their peers} say or do?  Do they debate even the smallest of requests that you make?  Do they become argumentative with peers, even those who are trying to be friendly to them, cause them to have few or challenging friendships? 

Students who constantly argue can be very frustrating!

Figuring Out The “Why”

 

The first thing I always do, is try to pinpoint the reason for the behavior.

Why is the student engaging in  this behavior?  What is he/she trying to say?  Beyond the words, what message is he sending?

Students who engage in this type of behavior are often seeking control. They want to control the situation, the conversation, the game, etc.  This is usually due to challenges with; Rigid Thinking, Poor Understanding of Empathy, Poor Understanding of Point of View, Perspective Taking, and Fact vs. Opinion. 

Some students also have low self...

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TOP 10 WAYS TO RESPOND TO DEFIANT BEHAVIOR IN THE CLASSROOM

 

Defiant behavior in the classroom is a reality for all teachers.  Classroom teachers, special subject teachers and assistant teachers, all have to respond to a variety of defiant behavior(s), sometimes, on a daily basis.  Defiant behavior(s) also affects the other students who share space with those who are struggling.

 

Some, experience severe behaviors.  This post will address mild-moderately defiant behaviors.  These are behaviors that are unsettling and/or disruptive to your teaching, including; non-compliance, arguing and being rude and disrespectful.

*The strategies discussed here and the Freebies passed along, are not intended for significantly defiant behaviors that may be dangerous to you or the student.  Those behaviors and related strategies are outside of the scope of this blog post.  For help with excessively aggressive or dangerous behavior, seek the help of a qualified mental health professional and or behavior...

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HOW TO MAKE A TREASURE MAP AND HUNT FOR PIRATE TREASURE

 

What’s more fun than using a treasure map to find buried treasure?!  Honestly, I can’t think of anything.  But besides fun, there are soooo many social skills that can be supported while using a treasure map to find “pirate treasure.”   I like to use this treasure map, pirate theme activity to support the important social skills concepts of Teamwork and Cooperation.

After spending some time discussing and working directly on these two concepts, my students go on a treasure hunt to celebrate all of the wonderful skills they have learned and practiced. Beyond teamwork and cooperation, this activity will also support; 

  • Self-Regulation
  • Good Sportsmanship
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Perseverance
  • Following Directions

 

Just to name a few…

 

 

Here’s how I made my Pirate Treasure Hunt

 

Material Prep:

Print Treasure Map on regular paper. To stain the edges of the paper to make it look old, dip a damp...

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HOW AND WHY TO TEACH STUDENTS TEAMWORK AND COOPERATION

 
This time of year I tend to put a lot of focus on the explicit teaching of two very important social skills; Teamwork and Cooperation
 
Of course, teamwork and cooperation are essential skills all-year-long, and are used in nearly every activity in school and in life.
 
For me, the importance of teamwork and cooperation really seems to stand out, as I watch my students to playing sports and games at recess, and engaging in cooperative activities on the playground in in their classrooms. 
 
 
Teamwork and Cooperation are defined very similarly, and my students always tell me they are the same thing.
 
But there are some subtle and important differences that I like to keep in mind.
 

Let’s start with Teamwork.

 

Teamwork is defined as:
 
A collaborative effort to achieve a common goal or complete a task.
 
 
Why is teamwork so important? 
 
Because we need to use teamwork in pretty much all...
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CREATIVE WAYS TO TEACH 5 BASIC SOCIAL SKILLS TO YOUR STUDENTS

 

We all know how important it is to teach and support social skills. Year after year I see more and more children struggling to engage in even very basic social skills. 

It’s important to teach social skills, explicitly in many cases, to our students. From kindergarten, all the way through elementary school…and in some cases, beyond.

Here are the 5 basic social skills that I like to teach in the kindergarten classrooms that I service: 

 

Sharing

Cooperating

Taking Turns

Using Kind Language

Respecting Personal Space

 

 

 

Below are some creative ideas for how to teach these important social skills in your day-to-day teaching. I hope you find some helpful ideas that you can quickly and easily add to your routine.

 

Sharing Ideas: Create many opportunities for your students to share by making materials limited. For example, during a cut and paste activity, put out one less glue stick than number of children at the table. Support...

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10 WAYS TO HELP YOU MOTIVATE AND ENGAGE YOUR CHALLENGING STUDENTS

 
How can you help your challenging students who are completely unmotivated and unengaged?  Having students who are bored, unmotivated and unengaged, is a huge challenge for teachers! Nothing is harder for a teacher than an unmotivated student.
 
Ugh! It can be so frustrating trying to reach them!
 
 

Here are 10 suggestions that I hope will help you motivate your challenging students.

 

1. Make It Less Painful: People are motivated to do something if it is less painful to do it than to not do it. When trying to motivate students, be sure to start by making doing the desired behavior, less “painful” than not doing it. In other words, try to make it fun, easy, and quick. 

2. Make It Successful: People are motivated when a behavior meets with success. It’s very challenging to motivate someone to do something if they always fail when doing it. If the child has a history or memory of failing doing it, you will need to back up in...

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IMPORTANT THINGS TO THINK ABOUT, BEFORE USING A BEHAVIOR CONTRACT

 

As a special educator in a public school, I see lots and lots and lots of behavior contracts!

The way I feel about behavior contracts is the same way I feel about Social Stories… They can be very helpful when used properly, but are often over relied upon and can end up being ineffective without important “pre-work” and follow through.

In order to be successful with a behavior contract, the student must have the ability to perform the skill asked of him/her. For example, even if you offered me a gazillion stickers {or dollars}, to join a pro wrestling team…I couldn’t do it. I just don’t have the skill. I might be VERY motivated to get the reward, but if I don’t have the skill, It doesn’t matter how motivated I am. I won't be able to do it. 

 

 

Often, we believe students lack motivation, when they actually lack skills. Of course, lacking skills, may then lead to a lack of motivation…after all, it’s...

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