What Are Social Skills Groups?
Social skills groups are small – organized by groups of children that are led bu a professional who can help teach children how to get along with their peers through better social interactions.
When a child or teen wants to make and maintain friendships, but is having a difficult time doing so, joining a social skills group is an essential way to support a child and teach them the vital social skills that they will need to feel confident and succeed in socializing with their peers.
It is important to choose the right social skills group for a child. The group leaders, the types of children in the group, the group format and what is taught in each group determine the goodness of fit for each child.
Types of Kids in Our Social Skills Groups
Since 2008, we have been running co-ed and single-sex social skills groups for children ages 5-10.
Group sizes are small, usually around 6 kids per group, with at least 2 adults.
Age groups are broken up into 5-6, 7-9 and 10-12.
Kids come from private, public and sometimes special ed schools. Children and teens are accepted after a clinical interview to determine “goodness of fit” for the group, and to make sure the child/teen would benefit from group based on their individual characteristics including strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Our groups are not designed for kids with severe cognitive or language delays, who are aggressive, require 1:1 attention, or have severe medical issues.
Our group members want more friends or longer lasting friendships.
We only accept children who would benefit from group based on their individual characteristics and the group as a whole. Our groups are fun based on several theoretical models, including SuperFlex & Social Thinking by Michelle Garcia Winner and Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
Social Skills Groups for Children: Ages 5-12
The social skills group for children ages 5-6 follows a social thinking model. We teach the social skills by using social stories, video demonstration, role-plays, board games, drawing, and discussion during each group.
Our social skills group for children ages 7-9 follows a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – Structured Teaching Model that focuses on enhancing a child’s social skills in their natural environment. During the structured portion of our groups, our therapists teach one social skill per week.
After the skill is defined and explicitly taught, children watch a video demonstration and prepare for their community-based outing to carry-over their social skills into the natural environment.
We travel around the community by walking to places such as but not limited to: Barnes & Noble, Central Park, Book Culture, Children’s Museum of Manhattan and American Museum of Natural History.
The first and last group sessions are held inside the office to allow for extra review and reward time. All children have an opportunity to earn points toward a reward in each group session.
Groups focus on overcoming trouble with: anxiety, assertiveness, impulsiveness, expressing feelings, problem-solving, bullying, anger, and self-esteem to increase effectiveness and confidence in social situations.
Group members are diverse, and may have a diagnosis of: ADD/ADHD, learning disabilities, High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders, anxiety, or depression.
Parents participate by meeting separately for the last 10 minutes of group to review weekly handouts and discuss supporting generalization of skills outside of group.
Will a child show improvement in social skills on their own?
Social skills deficits do not improve over time on their own.
Nearly 20% of kids are rejected (Burleson, 1985, Kupersmidt et al., 1995), and that peer category can last for up to 4 years (Coie & Dodge, 1983; Howes, 1990).
Kids without friends need specific help to change the way they interact or they are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Social rejection and lack of peer relationships as a child is the biggest risk factor for adult maladjustment, more so than academics or classroom behavior (Hartup, 1992).
Socially rejected kids need intensive, integrated and comprehensive social skills training with professionals, their parents, and at school. Easier said than done but definitely doable!
Examples Of Social Skills Taught Each Week
- Making Introductions
- Asking for Help
- Following Directions
- Self-control: Stop and Think Before You Act
- Making Small Talk
- Resisting Peer Pressure
- Teasing vs. Bullying
- Identifying Emotions
- Personal Space
- Being a Social Detective: Non-verbal cues
- Flexibility: Being a Fun Player/Dealing with Losing
- Problem Solving
- Being Part of the Group: Collaborating and Giving and Receiving Compliments
2020-2021 MPG Social Skills Groups In NYC
— Please contact us at 646-450-6210 to sign up —
Groups are led by Dorrie Barbanel
Ages 5-6, TBD
Ages 7-9, TBD
Ages 10-12, Co-ed Mondays 5-6 pm via Telehealth
We accept about 3-4 kids per group, on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Fall: Friendship in the Fall (10 sessions)
October 5th, 19th & 26th
November 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd & 30th
Winter: New Year, New Friendships: TBD
Spring: Spring Social Stars: TBD
School Consultation & Parent Training
Weekly 60 minute socialization groups are 1 part of a 3 part intervention: group, home and school.
Behavioral parent training teaches parents how to generalize the skills from group at home and in public. This training is strongly recommended as it helps children derive maximum benefit from their social skills group training.
In addition to the specific social skills from group, topics covered are:
- effective communication
- positive attention
- active ignoring
- behavior plans
- daily report cards (DRC)
- how to enhance social skills acquisition.
For older teens, family therapy is recommended to improve communication and problem-solving with parents. DRC is a research-supported treatment for improving social, academic and behavioral issues at school.
NYC Social Skills Group Training Location
Our social skills groups run weekly during the school year via Telehealth or at our Upper West Side office located at:
107 West 82nd St. and Columbus Ave
Lower Level Professional – Suite #101
New York, NY 10024
Please contact us today to sign up for our upcoming groups!
Social Skills Groups Results Ages 7-9 & 10-12
How do you know if your child is learning new social skills? One method is to compare parent ratings before and after the intervention, which is exactly what I did for two of my social skills groups in NYC that I led in the Fall of 2013 for children ages 7-9 & 10-12.
The Kids: 11 children, 3 girls and 8 boys. There were actually 14 kids overall who completed the program but not all parents completed the pre and post parent rating scales. Kids had varying diagnoses but all with solid language and cognitive abilities and no behavioral problems. Kids attended public, private and special education schools.
Procedure: Group met for 9 weeks, for 60 minutes each group. 3 Co-leaders. Parents rated their child based on what they saw outside of group before and after group. The online rating scale measured the social skills being taught in this NYC based group. We used a structured teaching model: skill definition, video demonstration, supervised child practice, reward time and then review. One skill was taught each week and reinforced in group via SocialStars (spontaneous pro-social behaviors) and reward free play. During the last 10 minutes, I met with the parents separately to review the homework from the prior week, review the new skill being taught, and practice the new homework.
Results: Comparing total pre-group scores with total post-group scores, both groups improved by about 20%. The younger group improved the most in self control, while the older group improved the most in apologizing and accepting blame.
Discussion: I’m very happy with these results, as are the parents. The children learned new skills because we taught them explicitly and the parents reinforced them at home. Some children were also on an eDRC at school for similar difficulties. I try to measure outcomes like this each semester to make sure kids are learning and applying what is being taught.