SOCIAL SKILLS PRACTICE
Based on SOCIAL THINKING Curriculum by Michelle Garcia Winner and affiliated groups and authors
PRIMARY CONCEPTS AND VOCABULARY
Thinking with the Group: This concept takes the idea of a child recognizing his/her own THOUGHTS and expanding that idea to include recognizing that others around them have thoughts also, including THOUGHTS ABOUT THEM. The idea of a GROUP PLAN is introduced, and CONSEQUENCES that follow when everyone respects the group plan (for example, others have GREEN THOUGHTS) are explored. When a student is not respecting and following the GROUP PLAN, there are CONSEQUENCES (Others have to wait in line, class is late for a fun special, teachers and students have RED THOUGHTS).
Following the GROUP PLAN is a GOOD CHOICE, and shows EXPECTED BEHAVIOR. Most of the time, making a POOR CHOICE, or showing UNEXPECTED BEHAVIOR, can be followed by a DO-OVER, where a student can make a new choice and show EXPECTED BEHAVIOR. This new choice is praised and acknowledged.
Students showing EXPECTED BEHAVIOR as their first choice are recognized as GOOD ROLE MODELS.
The GROUP PLAN includes having your BODY IN THE GROUP and showing WHOLE BODY LISTENING, which is how students show, with their bodies, that they know the GROUP PLAN. If the teacher and the child’s friends could see inside each person’s “THOUGHT BUBBLE” they would see whose “BRAIN IS IN THE GROUP” also. This means you are thinking about what the group is thinking about. This gives everyone GREEN THOUGHTS, and helps everyone work together well.
If a student is not sure what the group plan is, they can: THINK WITH THEIR EYES (look around and see what others are doing).
CONSEQUENCES are part of following or not following the GROUP PLAN. Students are praised/rewarded for knowing the GROUP PLAN and following it, as well as explaining THE GROUP PLAN to others in a kind way. The terms RED and GREEN thoughts are feelings others can have about us when we are FOLLOWING (GREEN THOUGHTS) OR NOT FOLLOWING (RED THOUGHTS) the group plan.
Chandler also has a GREEN PLAN that spells out EXPECTED BEHAVIOR (the GROUP PLAN) in each area of the school.
Using the SOCIAL THINKING words and phrases at home can help your child feel successful at school.
Understanding feelings: We teach the vocabulary of emotions, how to recognize your own feelings and read the facial expressions and body language of others. These skills help students identify the changes in the body that come with emotions and feelings, which are special, powerful thoughts. We can use the characters in Disney’s film Inside Out (Joy, Fear, Sadness, Anger and Disgust) to understand how emotions can feel inside the body and how emotional thoughts can control behaviors and choices. The dice page can be used as a story-telling game about feelings. (For example, roll a face/feeling. Tell when you felt that way)
The 5- point scale is introduced and students are encouraged to identify their feelings under all sorts of conditions to help them understand that their feelings are real and important. The goal is to CHECK IN using the 5-point scale when the child is calm and happy (in the GREEN) as well as when they are having more uncomfortable feelings (ORANGE, YELLOW).
Managing feelings and self-regulation: This topic uses both Social Thinking concepts and a simplified version of a cognitive/behavioral therapy approach to help students learn to regulate their emotions and emotionally-driven behavior. Learning these techniques helps students feel more successful in school and develop satisfying friendships.
A student having RED feelings can use one or more COOL DOWN TOOLS to help themselves feel better and think better. Children are taught many COOL DOWN techniques (3 deep breaths, counting to ten, taking a break to think about your favorite place or pet or person, taking a walk).
A RUBBER CHICKEN is a poor behavior choice (often impulsive or emotion-driven) that can be recognized and replaced with a new behavior choice, called a DO OVER.
Cooling down also helps with PROBLEM SOLVING. We use a visual of the HOW BIG IS THE PROBLEM triangle to use our brain to COOL DOWN and start to think about our problem. (For example, a child has not been chosen, or his/her team did not win a game: how big is this problem?).
We can use NAME IT- TAME IT- REFRAME IT (using the three points of a kite as a tool) to solve a problem or reduce red thoughts by looking at a situation in a different way. (For example, the child’s friend chooses a new student to play with at recess. REFRAMING the problem could involve thinking of the new student as a potential friend too).