Updated: Feb 12, 2019
Can New Year’s resolutions affect Social Skills…?
Every year many people across the world come up with two to five New Year’s resolutions. Most people start out strong and have every intention of sticking to their resolutions but rarely make it past a few weeks. Does this sound familiar?
Resolutions are all about changing a behavior. Maybe you want to cut out carbs, workout three times a week, organize the garage or stick to a strict budget. For a few weeks, you are motivated and manage not to eat any bread for two weeks and then one day you find yourself in Red Lobster devouring the premeal cheese biscuits! What happened to all that motivation and that we had?
Resolutions fail because behavior change is HARD! We focus on the behavior without changing our thought patterns. You can try to lose weight by following a strict diet but without working on what your thoughts are about food, you’re not likely to be very successful. Trust me, I know!
The same is true for anyone with social deficits.
When a person has social challenges, we notice what they are doing (or not doing) that causes them to stand out from their peers. Maybe your son gets too close to others when he’s talking to them. So, you talk to him about personal space, you roleplay to show what’s acceptable personal space and you may even read a book about it. After a little bit of teaching, your son is probably able to tell you all about personal space! You’re feeling better until a few days later when you go to pick him up from school and notice that he’s standing too close while talking to a friend. Now you are feeling frustrated and are wondering if he’ll ever figure it out.
Change a thought, change a behavior
It’s important to understand what we are asking of our kids/students when they are learning and working on social communication. We’re asking them to shift how they think about social and then to change the related behavior. It takes time to do this. Your child may do great one week and struggle the next. This is normal. This is what all of us do when we are trying to do something differently. Keep this in mind the next time you think “We just talked about this!” Keep in mind how difficult resolutions are for adults. After all, our kids aren’t that different from us!