The Importance of Social Skill Training in Children

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Psychologists noted the impact of modeling on behavior of young people and it was recommended that the use of an interactive group approach may create a realistic cognitive and emotional environment in which children may learn and observe appropriate social interactions. Even socially deficient adolescents may develop positive interaction styles along with others by observing them and by getting support by their peers. It is clear that “comparative appraisals of efficacy require not only evaluation of one’s own performances but also knowledge of how others perform, cognizance of non-ability determinants of their performances and some understanding that it is others, like oneself who provide the most informative social criterion for comparison”. This knowledge is used by social skill training groups to enable the children experiencing difficulties in understanding and adjusting with the acceptable standards of society. Bar-On and Parker (2000) has coined the term dyssemia for a learning disability in the field of non verbal interaction. These nonverbal fields are elaborated in social skills training groups in the ways in which normal social interactions usually do not work. The discussion may be stopped if children don’t understand or they misinterpret the facial expression or body language as they may fail to make eye contact or display unusual gesture. In this situation the trainer gets opportunity to discuss the problematic behavior and suggest an alternate method/solution. These positive social behaviors may then be practiced and applied in group studies which help the socially deficient children to attend their own poor communications.

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According to the social cognitive perspective of Bandura (1977), people learn by their own experience by observing the behavior of others and social skills training groups help the children in both of these processes. Consequently children may learn appropriate behaviors and may correct their actions. Further these observations of appropriate actions are then used by the children as a guide for their future actions.

Bandura (1986) studied that observation learning is governed by the processes of attention, retention, production and motivation. Each child in a group act as a model for other children & the behavior of all the children in a group is modified in appropriate manner as well as there are positively reinforced behaviors for socially adept skills which can be reproduced by the children in different situations after they are retained in the memory and children want to replicate outside the group. The skills are practiced, repeated and reinforced by the facilitator. If the valuable results according to expectations are obtained, the children are motivated to adopt the behavior and repeat the same in future. Therefore social skill training groups in due course of time create a platform and act as a catalyst to develop socially competent skills.

Since it is evident that the social skill training can improve the social skills and behavior, modern researchers have identified various physiological aspects related to these apparent behavioral changes. Specifically the advance studies about the brain have identified the neuro- physiological changes responsible for social and emotional learning. Two neuro-anatomical structures i.e somato-sensory/insular cortices and amygdale are said to be involved in the acquisition of social skills. Both of these structures play a significant role in emotional regulation and decision making and are considered as the integral factors responsible for developing positive social interactions. The prefrontal cortex area provides a relay station for modulating emotionally intelligent behaviors such as social problem solving and inhibiting impulsive responses. The studies about physiological brain changes in response to social experiences, further strengthens the argument for experiential group work with children having limited social skills.

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