My children go back to school tomorrow after the Winter break, and my troubled little 7 year-old son is eager to go back to school. Considering his difficulties and anxieties over social skills this is really wonderful. While he is at home he is a relatively well behaved little boy with only a few issues, playing by himself in his room with all his new Christmas Lego and building sets, but once he gets to school it is touch and go whether he will be able to navigate his social situations well. My son spends 7 hours each day at school, and teaching him social skills means teaching him good manners and respect for others in the classroom, the playground and the cafeteria. Teachers do their best to teach our children school time manners, but lack of manners is a growing problem in our schools. As parents we can help by talking about important rules in different situations. For example, one way to help is to get three large sheets of construction paper and label one Good Manners in the Classroom, the second Good Manners on the Playground and the third Good Manners in the Cafeteria. Discuss what rules and behavior is needed in each of the three situations. Work with your child to choose one or two of the most important rules for each area and have them draw a poster for one or all three areas highlighting these most important rules. You can also have them role-play with you certain situations that might come up in each area. Discuss with them what they could do if their friend says mean things for example. Have them make up a rhyme about the rules. Depending on their age you can also read a book with them on manners at school such as Oh Behave, Manners at School by Daniel Nunn and Sian Smith, or Mind Your Manners: In School, by Arianna Candell if they are young, or How Rude! The Teenagers Guide to Good Manners, Proper Behavior, and Not Grossing People Out, by Alex Packer if they are older. All books are easily available in bookstores.
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