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Social Skills: Interrupting

Dilemma: Your child talks over others or otherwise interrupts what they are saying.

Everyday Solution(s): Correct the behavior in the moment with a verbal warning (e.g., “You need to wait your turn”), use a method such as 1-2-3 Magic to count instances of interrupting up to three incidents before giving the child a consequence, practice/role-play turn-taking (and turn the table so that you interrupt the child for perspective-taking practice), or read a story/write a social story about interrupting and its effect on interactions.

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Sōsh Approach: Use the mobile app to video record the child engaging in the behavior (i.e., interrupting) and then ask him or her to monitor how often it occurred using the Regulate >Tracking page of the app. Finally, open the Recognize > Feelings page of the app to document and archive the effect of the interrupting on the other person so that learning can generalize. 

To learn more, visit www.mysosh.com.

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Dr. Bowers Creates Mobile App and Releases Book to Help Children & Teens Improve Social Skills

Sōsh is the new word in social skills development.  It is also a new mobile app that helps young people improve their social skills “in the moment.”  Dr. Mark Bowers, a pediatric psychologist and app co-creator released the Sōsh app today– moving social skills training into the high tech, mobile app world.  In addition to real-time, portable tips and tools for individuals with social skills difficulties, the mobile app also provides activities and feedback to parents, teachers, and therapists for guidance and review.  For individuals ages 9 to 22 years old, difficulty with social interactions is a leading cause of stress and one of the most common calls for help.  With exercises, strategies, and a wealth of practical information regarding social skills, Sōsh will assist the user every step of the way.  The app is available in the iTunes app store.  Visit www.mysosh.com for a full review of the app’s potential to improve social skills.

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Sōsh for Social Skills

Welcome to the Sōsh blog dedicated to helping individuals improve their social skills.  Stay tuned for weekly content updates.

Sōsh is an approach developed by Dr. Mark Bowers, a pediatric psychologist, that divides social functioning into five areas essential to social skills development and success: Relate, Relax, Reason, Regulate and Recognize.   These “5R’s” serve as a road map for individuals who want to be social, but may have faced obstacles in the past; and also serve as a guide for parents, teachers, and therapists hoping to encourage and assist individuals with their social goals.  

The Sōsh mobile app is available for “in the moment” social skills help and Dr. Bowers has also published his book: Sōsh: Improving Social Skills with Children and Adolescents.  Visit www.mysosh.com for more information on these exciting developments.

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It’s Been Awhile….

I see that it has been about 6 months since my last post.  I have some exciting developments that I will be sharing soon and I assure you that the past six months has been spent working tirelessly on some rather time-intensive projects geared toward helping improve social skills in the lives of children, teens, and young adults.   I can’t wait to update everyone and I hope that it will be worth the wait.  More to come…

–Dr. Bowers

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Too often we give our children answers to remember instead of problems to solve.

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May 28, 2011 · 3:01 am

Give the Gift of You…

The coolest present you can give your child is time spent at your side.

By Carolyn Buchanan | December , 2010

What does Owen want for Christmas? That question begins arriving in my e-mail inbox every year right around this time from well-meaning relatives and friends. They’re looking for a suggestion of what to give my son to make their holiday shopping list more manageable. But they also want to find something he’ll get a kick out of. (The same sort of question pops up around his birthday, too.) This year, I’m trying a new answer: “Owen doesn’t need any more things. How about if you give him the gift of . . . you?

I’m suggesting to friends and family that they spend an afternoon with my son, sharing a hobby, an interest, or a talent of theirs that will make the day memorable and unique. “The gift of time is always the most important thing you can give to a child,” says Mark Bowers, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist at the Ann Arbor (MI) Center for Development & Behavioral Pediatrics. “When children look back on their childhoods, they’re much more likely to remember events than objects.”  In this article is a guide to offer to relatives and friends that they can use for connecting with your child. (You can also use it yourself with your nephews, nieces, or other children.) All of the suggestions we offer are budget-friendly! As always, it’s important to coordinate any plans with the gift-receiver’s parent in advance.

Read entire article here.

 

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Lies, Truths, and Your Preschooler

My recent contribution to a WebMD article for those parents raising a toddler.  Thanks and kudos to Jennifer Soong for really covering all the bases eloquently on this topic.

How to help your preschooler learn the difference between lying and telling the truth.
By Jennifer Soong
WebMD Feature

When Dylan Bocanegra was three, he blamed the family’s cat, Bamboo, for practically everything, recalls his mom Eva-Marie Fredric, a producer in Los Angeles.

Crayon scrawled all over the living room walls? Bamboo did it. Plastic bottle flushed down the toilet? Bamboo did it. Smoke rising from the TV set? Yup, it was you-know-who.

“Like most toddlers, Dylan had a vivid imagination and told tall tales,” Fredric says. “Our cat became the scapegoat for everything he did.”

That was years ago — Dylan is now a teen. But some things never change — plenty of preschoolers, then and now, do like he did and stretch the truth.

True Lies

Preschoolers (aged 3-5) are learning to grasp the line between reality and fantasy. Telling a fib or tall tale is not an unusual way to explore this boundary at this age. Parents are often hardwired to react hotly to what they see as a lie, but this may not always be the best way to handle the situation.

“At age 3, it’s often when parents will say, ‘Gosh, my child is lying. I don’t know what to do,” says Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers. “But it’s a fuzzy line between what’s real and what’s in their imagination.”

Let’s say that your 3-year-old spilled milk on the floor. You ask, “Who spilled it?” and your child says, “Not me.” It’s not that your child is lying, Altmann says. She may wish she didn’t spill it, or if the spill took place an hour ago, she might not even remember spilling it.

Anyone under age 5 is too young to understand what a lie is, says Mark Bowers, PhD, pediatric psychologist in Ann Arbor, Mich. They don’t have the same cognitive capacity as a kindergarten-age kid who begins to learn the difference between right and wrong.

“You don’t have a future criminal on your hands because your child’s not ‘fessing up to spilling the milk in the kitchen,” Bowers says.

Laying Down the Ground Rules

If you catch your child drawing on the walls, you may be tempted to confront her: “Are you the one who did this?” Chances are she’ll say “no” because she doesn’t want to make you mad or get in trouble.

It’s better to state what the rule is and offer a solution, Bowers says. For example, “We have a rule in this house that we only draw on paper. So why don’t we get some soap and you can help Daddy clean it up.”

To avoid accusations, he advocates a Columbo approach, or playing dumb. Within your child’s earshot, you can say: “Oh, I wonder how this milk got spilled? It would really be nice if somebody could help me clean it up.”

After your kid comes over and helps you, give him a high five for helping out.

“These are teaching opportunities to show your child what they should do in the future,” Altmann says. “Unless it’s really serious, stay away from punishment and turn it into a learning opportunity.”

Superheroes, Disneyland, and Tall Tales

Creativity is at a high point from age 3 to 5, Bowers says.

Imaginary play is part of a child’s natural growth and development. You start to see imaginary friends, superhero fantasies, wishful thinking, and talk about places your child has never been, like Disneyland. You can help nurture your child’s imagination while teaching them the importance of honesty.

Don’t worry if your child details a fictitious trip to Disneyland. Simply respond by saying, “Well, you know, we haven’t been to Disneyland yet, but if we did go, what would you want to do?”

“Whenever possible, have fun with them,” Bowers says. “Join them so they can pursue what’s in their imagination.”

Preschoolers often stretch the truth to get your attention. You can encourage your child to tell the truth, says Fran Walfish, PsyD, a child and family psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent.

One way she suggests is saying to your child: “You have such a wonderful imagination and when you say A, B, or C, I can’t always tell if it’s your imagination or if it’s real. The thing that is most important, that makes a person feel safe between two people, is when we tell the truth and always say what’s real.”

Be Positive, Don’t Judge

“It’s very important to be able to gently, without judgment, put accountability where it belongs,” Walfish says. “You have to bust your child in a nice way.”

Use language your preschooler can understand. For example, you might say: “It’s hard sometimes to tell Mommy that you did it. You say the cat did it because you’re worried about Mommy being mad at you. But you and I both know the cat can’t do it. I’m the kind of Mommy that wants to hear that you did it and then we can talk about other ways you can get my attention.”

Altmann recommends using positive phrasing. “Say ‘it’s important to tell the truth’ instead of saying, ‘Oh, you lied.’ I would urge parents not to say that,” she says.

Stay away from the negative stigma of calling your child a liar, Walfish says. It labels the child, makes her feel bad and that she has to hide things from you.

“You want to keep the connections open so that your child can tell you anything,” Walfish says.

You don’t have to wait for these types of situations to crop up. Bowers suggests reading books together that encourage honesty, such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

How did Fredric get her son, Dylan, to stop his fibbing? She used a cat hand puppet and a different voice to get him to ‘fess up to the truth.

At the puppet’s prompting, he admitted to things he did, apologized, and gave his mom a big hug. “It actually made him feel safe to tell the truth,” Fredric says. “He didn’t worry about getting in trouble.”

SOURCES:

Tanya Remer Altmann, MD, FAAP, pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers.

Mark Bowers, PhD, pediatric psychologist, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Fran Walfish, PsyD, child and family psychotherapist; author,The Self-Aware Parent.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: “Children and Lying,” November 2004.

Reviewed on October 19, 2010
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