Tag: Social Skills

Social Exclusion at School

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Social Exclusion in the School Environment
Social exclusion in the school environment is increasingly being recognised as a form of relational aggression or bullying, in which a child is exposed to harm through the manipulation of their social relationships and status (Edith Cowan University, 2009).

Social exclusion can take many forms, with children reporting a range of experiences from being deliberately excluded from a peer group to having rumours spread about them, being called names and being purposefully embarrassed. In any sense, social exclusion is fundamentally entails a lack of connectedness and participation from a peer group. Australian research suggests that approximately 1 in 6 children report experiences of social exclusion, however, this may under- represent true prevalence rates given the difficulties in measuring social exclusion which is often undertaken in covert and hidden ways (Edith Cowan University, 2009).

 Who does it affect?

While belonging and connectedness to peers is important at any age, it is particularly relevant in adolescence. Research suggests that adolescents are particularly sensitive to peer rejection and as a group, may experience the most significant mental health effects such as depression and anxiety in response peer rejection. Adolescence is typically a time of increased independence from parents and family and increased dependence on their peer group. Identities are developed in relation to peer groups and peer group differences can become highly salient. The difficulty for adolescents is that ingroup and outgroup rules are fluid and as such, maintaining peer relationships can be fraught with complication (Leets & Wolf, 2005).

Studies on the neurological profile of children suggest that their brain areas for emotion (such as the Anterior Cingulate Cortex) become more activated in response to peer rejection with age, peaking in adolescence. In contrast, adolescents show significantly less activation in the brain regions which govern emotional regulation such as the Ventrolateral Prefrontal Cortex in response to peer rejection in comparison with younger children (Bolling, Pitskel, Deen, Crowley, Mayes & Pelphrey, 2011). This unique neurological profile for adolescents suggests that social exclusion at this age may be particularly distressing and that they may have significant difficulty in managing their distress.

Effects of social exclusion

Research suggests that the physical, emotional and mental health of children exposed to social exclusion can be compromised. For example, lower immune function, reduced sleep quality, reduced ability to calm oneself in times of distress, reduced self esteem, feelings of anxiety, depression and aggression have all been observed in children who have been excluded from a peer group (DeWall, Deckman, Pond & Bonser, 2011).

 So what can we do?

Children and adults all have a core need to be loved and valued within secure and lasting positive relationships (DeWall et al., 2011). Helping children develop and maintain these secure relationships both with their family, peers and wider social group is an important part of their development. Research is telling us that children become aware of social rejection from a young age (Leets & Wolf, 2005) and can reason as to why it is wrong to exclude others from preadolescence (Killen, 2007). Thus talking with your child from a young age about inclusion of others, feelings that occur when exclusion is encountered and strategies to manage social exclusion is important. Some helpful tips are:

 For the excluded child:

  • Be open, available and calm when your child needs to talk with you. Children often worry about upsetting or worrying their parents, so it is important to remain calm and engaged with your child.
  • Be responsive to your child. Affirm to them that they have the right to be safe and feel secure and that you will help them by talking with the school and providing a safe haven at home. For older children, listen to the action that they would like you to take and negotiate with them when it would be appropriate for you to talk with the school, for example, if they are still being excluded at the end of the week or if things escalate.
  • Be affirming. Tell and show your child that they are unconditionally loved and valued as a person. Enlist the support of family friends to share positive messages about your child and engage in their gifts, talents and interests. Build a circle of security around your child.
  • Make your home a safe haven. Minimise the risk of online social exclusion and bullying by monitoring technology use and using privacy settings and parental controls. The change of email addresses and mobile numbers may be necessary.
  • Help your child manage emotional distress but talking about their feelings and developing some self-coping statements such as “relax, don’t take it personally”. Help your child focus on their gifts, talents and interests.
  • Build your child’s friendships. Having one close friend has been shown to strengthen a child’s connectedness to school and self esteem. Help your child identify a friend or friends that share similar interests and foster the friendship through play dates and scheduled activities.
  • Use the high five principal. Help your child identify five people that they can seek support from and /or things to do, one for each finger, if they are being excluded. For example, seek out a special teacher, find a friend in an older year, go to the library or offer their help to the teacher on duty.
  • Develop ways your child can have some clear boundaries. Help your child communicate their distress and name the inappropriate behaviour of others through statements such as “I don’t like what you are doing and you need to stop” , “That is bullying and it is not right”. Help your child know that they need to seek support if the social exclusion continues.
  • Consider programs like the Quirky Kid ‘The Best of Friends’ program.

For the parents/ school

  • Develop a tone in your family and school that demonstrates an environment of mutual respect and responsibility.
  • Have clear and well communicated policies on bullying and social exclusion and explore these regularly with the school community.
  • Encourage class-based discussions on the meanings of ingroups and outgroups and common misperceptions, such as “kids who wear glasses are not good at sports”. Find examples in everyday life that will challenge these misperceptions. Extend discussions to help children realise the moral and emotional implications of social exclusion.
  • Facilitate teamwork and an atmosphere of inclusion by choosing working or sporting groups based on arbitrary characteristics such as birth months, favourite animals or having a rotating system by which every half day, the group rotates by one member.
  • Develop strong networks between teaching staff and children by including children in lessons, school activity planning and open discussions. Having the principal visible and available can also help develop an atmosphere of inclusion and connectedness.
  • Get the wider peer group involved. Social exclusion thrives when surrounding peers do not intervene. Help children understand why it is important to help others and strategies to do so, such as saying things like “stop that is not fair, leave her alone, she’s my friend” or know a teacher whom they can approach.
  • Again, programs like ‘The Best of Friends’ can be offered school wide to ensure the social skills and communication strategies are consistently applied.

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 References: 

1. Leets, L. & Wolf, S. (2005). Adolescent rules for social exclusion: when is it fair to exclude someone else? Journal of Moral Education, 34 (3), 343-362.

2. Killen, M. (2007). Children’s Social and Moral Reasoning About Exclusion. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 6 (1), 32-36.

3. Bolling, D., Pitskel N., Deen, B., Crowley, M., Mayes, L. & Pelphrey, K. (2011). Development of neural systems for processing social exclusion from childhood to adolescence. Developmental Science, 14 (6), 1431-1444.

4. DeWall, C., Deckman, T., Pond, R. & Bonser, I. (2011) Belongingness as a Core Personality Trait: How Social Exclusion Influences Social Functioning and Personality Expression. Journal of Personality, 79 (6), 979-1012.

5. Edith Cowan University (2009). Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study, CHPRC http://deewr.gov.au/bullying-research-projects

The Best of Friends @ TIGS

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Recently, the Quirky Kid Clinic worked with school staff and students at the Illawarra Grammar School in Wollonong  to facilitate the popular ‘The Best of Friends ™’ in the classroom setting.

Illawarra Grammar School in Wollonong - The Best of Friends Program

The 6 weeks program covered areas such as Making Friends, Social Skills, Empathy, Compromise, and Peacemaking in friendships. 

Students participated in a range of activities including painting, play dough, role play, and presentations while discussing the finer points of friendship and playground issues.

Each child was given a “Quirky Kid Tool Kit” including materials for the day as well as making use of the Quirky Kid Resources. We are very satisfied with parental and school feedback on the positive outcomes the workshop has achieved so far.

Illawarra Grammar School in Wollonong  staff were incredible supportive and showed great commitment toward students social development.

  • If you would like some information on ‘The Best of Friends™ workshop for your child’s classroom, please contact us on 02 9362-9297
  • This program has been present in many schools around Sydney like Moriah CollegeSt Thomas, St Catherine’s School and others. We also run our workshops in Sydney, Wollongong, and Melbourne.

 

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The Best of Friends @ Moriah College

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Moriah College in Sydney and 'The Best of Friends' Program

Recently, the Quirky Kid Clinic worked with school staff from Year 5 at Moriah College in Sydney to facilitate the popular ‘The Best of Friends’ in the classroom setting.

Moriah College in Sydney and 'The Best of Friends' Program

This 6 weeks program covered areas such as Making Friends, Social Skills, Empathy, Compromise, and Peacemaking in friendships. 

Students participated in a range of activities including painting, play dough, role play, and multimedia presentations while discussing the finer points of friendship and playground issues.

Each child was given a “Quirky Kid Tool Kit” including materials for the day as well as making use of the Quirky Kid Resources. Information sheet for parents were provided so they could also help their children to build social skills.

We are very satisfied with parental and school feedback on the positive outcomes the workshop has achieved so far.

Moriah Colleague Principal and Teaching staff were incredibly supportive and showed great commitment toward students social development.

  • If you would like some information on ‘The Best of Friends™ workshop for your child’s classroom, please contact us on 02 9362-9297
  • This program has been present in many schools around Sydney like, St Thomas, St Catherine’s School and others. We also run our workshops in in Sydney, Wollongong, and Melbourne.
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How to be a Friend @ Practical Parenting

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

Practical parenting magazine has just reviewed and recommended our new book – How to be a Friend’ on their last magazine edition. According to practical parenting, the book is: ‘the essential picture-filled guide for helping littlies aged three and above make friend and keep them, It’s great for building on social skills and teaching playground etiquette’

Empathy, sensitivity to others’ viewpoints, self-worth and the rules of conversation are just some of the skills that children can learn through their friendships and carry into their adult lives making it easier to develop positive relationships.

This engaging book, “How To Be A Friend”, was published by Quirky Kid as a tool to help children to manage bosses and bullies, while recognizing the qualities needed to develop genuine and consistent friendships. “Giving children strategies to create inclusive, friendly playgrounds is an advantage for every school community, and this book can help”, says Kimberley. “Teachers are now seeking social role models to eliminate the culture of bullying”.

Last night we also discussed this book with 2UE radio.

You can buy the book on line at the Quirky Kid Shoppe or at selected book stores

 

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Our Newest Resource

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Posted on by Leonardo Rocker (Quirky Kid Staff)

A Guide to Make Friends and Keep Them

How to be a Friend: A Guide to Making and Keeping Them

We are very proud to launch our newest therapeutic resource written and illustrated by Mark Brown and Laurie Krasny Brown -the acclaimed creators of Arthur. How to Be a Friend is the perfect prop for parents and professionals working with children to build social confidence and explore playground politics.

The book offers practical suggestions for making and keeping friends, resolving arguments, overcoming shyness, dealing with bossy children,  handling bullies and more.

How to Be a Friend is easy-to-read and provides children with many fun examples and illustrations of how to be a good friend. The book was published to support our social skills program ‘The Best of Friends’. For more information on this program, click on the link.

You will find out:

– Who can be your friends
– How to show someone you would like to be friends
– How to handle bossy kids and bullies too
– The best ways to be a friend and ways NOT to be a friend
– Ways to settle an argument with a friend

This high quality Australian Edition has been produced on a Hard Cover with 33 uncoated and illustrated pages

Buy now a copy and head to the Quirky Kid Shoppes.

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