Being a child is hard work. Every day the child has to learn new academic skills, new social skills, and new physical or athletic skills. Severe or constant failure in any one of these areas can be devastating to the child’s emotions and to his future as an adult.
The book, It’s So Much Work to Be Your Friend: Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success* by Richard Lavoie, is an outstanding guide for parents of any child who is having trouble with social skills.
*The above link is an Amazon Affiliate link. If you purchase the book through this link our site will recieve a small fee from Amazon that helps support our work at no cost to you.
Dr. Mel Levine in a preface of the book, Getting in Good, makes the following observation: “Social success during childhood and beyond entails two central missions: friendship formation and reputation management. . . . Close relationships bring out a child’s altruism, collaboration skills, and empathy. Reputation on the other hand, entails the cultivation and expression of an outer image, along with the political skills needed to satisfy the expectations of significant constituencies (fellow students, teachers, and others).”
Some children succeed in developing strong friendships and outstanding reputations among peers, and teachers. Others succeed in one or the other area. And sadly there are children who fail miserably in both arenas and suffer every day at school.
The author of the book points out that there are four key social skills that a child needs for social success at home, or in school, or outside of school. These are “1. ability to join or enter a group, 2. ability to establish and maintain friendships, 3. ability to resolve conflicts, 4. ability to ‘tune in’ to social skills.”
How a child enters or joins a group of peers engaged in any activity requires that the child have an effective strategy for the situation. Great social skill is required to do this successfully.
Each of the other three key social skills also require specific ability to tailor behavior to the specific situation. Some children seem to pick up these skills effortlessly but other children have difficulty learning and applying social skills.
The author, in the introduction has an excellent checklist that parents can use to perform a social skills assessment of their child. It involves looking for behaviors that may signal social difficulties in four different areas: “handling emotions and social challenges, handling peer situations, handling authority, and handling stress”. A child who has many of the behaviors of the four checklist areas is having significant problems with social skills.
But, diagnosis without a practical plan for helping the child is useless. The strength of this outstanding book is the prescriptions the author gives for teaching social skills.
Although the book’s subtitle is “Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success”, any child having social difficulties can benefit from the techniques in this book.
There are chapters with specific techniques for social skills at school, out in the community, and in making and keeping friends.
There is an appendix with excellent set of top ten or twenty lists. An example is “Ten Pieces of Advice to Offer Children in Solving a Child-Child Conflict”. Another list is the “Top Twenty Behaviors That Parents Should Avoid In Order to Present Positive Role Models to Their Child.”
There is incredibly practical advice to help children with ADHD, anxiety, as well as with difficulty planning and carrying out complex activities (difficulties with executive function).
I strongly recommend that you consider buying this book if you suspect that your child might have difficulties in social skills because social failure in child can be as devastating as academic failure.