Then, they have conversations. About what they did this weekend, which malls they shopped at with their mothers, and how they felt when the Phillies won or lost. Sometimes they work on hand-shaking, direct eye contact, and conversational turn taking. This is common practice: I now have several books about social skills which include such skills as shaking hands with an opponent after a "good game" of tic tac toe.
OK, I understand the concept behind social skills instruction: our kids need to be actively taught how to engage in the world. And granted that the most basic techniques of human engagement -- brief eye contact, turn taking, smile exchange -- can be taught, either as behaviors or as true social greetings.
But how often has anyone ever seen a typical group of young boys sit down for a chat about the weekend, shake hands spontaneously, or courteously turn-take during a rehash of a ball game? Are we carefully teaching our children how to act like little adults -- and actually undermining the very thing we're trying to create: normalcy?
What are your thoughts about the practice of social skills instruction? Join the conversation!