Tag Archives: social skills

TIPS: Encourage Kids to Ask For Help

by Michelle Garcia Winner, Social Thinking.com


Discuss why people ask for help and give examples of the types of people who ask for help. Many of our students choose not to request help because they think it means they’re not smart. Many individuals have been told they are smart for years and feel that smart people don’t need help. What they often don’t realize is that the most successful students are the ones who regularly ask for help/clarification when unsure. These individuals will benefit from observing other students asking for help and then watching the teacher’s response. The reality is that most teachers are usually responsive to students who ask for assistance!

Help the individual develop the ability to recognize when he or she needs help. Some individuals are so used to feeling confused with certain types of academic information that they become desensitized. They simply wait for someone (parent, aide, teacher) to swoop in and clarify on a regular basis. Work with the individual to develop a system so s/he can differentiate between when s/he understands the task or the situation versus when s/he feels confused or lost and may need help.

Establish a system for how to ask for help. Most students in a classroom raise their hand while looking in the direction of the teacher to indicate the need for help. If, after ongoing explanations and clear models of how to get help in this manner the student still does not use this strategy, then it’s time to try another approach. For example, start with having the student simply flip a card on her desk to indicate, “I need help.” Some students may benefit from having a visual cue card to hand to the teacher. These strategies can be very helpful to our less verbose or more anxious students. This is often a concrete, although temporary, solution to an abstract problem. Also, student with selective mutism may be willing to stand by the teacher’s desk as a sign they need help. Continue to brainstorm different choices for different students.

Outline what it means to ask for help versus asking for clarification. Some students need to simply check-in with someone to make sure they are doing the right thing (clarification), which is different from the need to acquire information that is unknown (asking for help). We distinguish between these two concepts as many students may just need clarification – but to them it looks like they need help and they don’t want people to think they need help! These students usually feel they know (or think they know) what to do and just need to clarify! Making this distinction often helps reduce their discomfort.

Help the student understand that asking for help doesn’t imply ignorance. Teach that asking for guidance/clarification on parts of assignments is commonplace for even the brightest and best students. Teach him or her to explain which part of the assignment s/he understands versus which part s/he needs further clarification.

Establish an expectation for how many times one should ask for help during class and at home. If the student is sitting in class and not doing the work like the other students (and has the ability to do so), help to pinpoint this as an expected time to ask for help. For our older students who struggle with this, we encourage them to ask for help once or twice a day in school, and once at home. Reward with praise when they are working to ask for help. Of course, there is always the case where students ask for help too often. This is also an issue and we, as educators and parents, need to teach strategies to help the student do a bit more of his or her own problem solving. For these students, we can encourage them to only ask for help a set number of times during any particular class or for a set period of time. Reward them for figuring out what to do on their own!

Provide more praise when the student asks for help than when he completes his work! Always give the student positive feedback when he is showing improvement in one of the areas mentioned above. This is far more important than giving praising to him for doing something that you know he can easily do well. The research is strong in telling us that the best praise is where we tell students exactly what they did well (e.g., “I love it that you figured out your own problem and solved it” or “I like that you knew you needed help and you asked me! Perfect”) rather than global praise (e.g., “Nice job in math.”).

Know your students’ strategies -both constructive and problematic! Teachers and parents should be assessing the strategies a student uses to ask for help as well as avoidance techniques! We should also observe how often the individual uses these positive or negative strategies when doing homework, when working in class, etc. Sometimes students don’t ask for help in a traditional manner but instead appear to have behavior problems (highly distracting to themselves and others) when unsure what to do. You may notice that this same student does not use these behaviors when highly engaged in a task that she understands.

Social Thinking groups can help, but the work can’t all be done in a specialized setting. Students need to take ownership for applying this information beyond one specific room. As your students acquire a better understanding of how to ask for help and why, teachers, clinicians, and parents need to help the student figure out how to apply these strategies in other settings and situations. Work with the student to develop strategies that encourage him or her to remember to use what they are learning in their classroom, at home, in the community and then provide opportunities to practice.

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Source: Social Thinking.com — a terrific resource for teaching self-understanding and social relationships. Specifically  https://www.socialthinking.com/Articles?name=Thoughts+on+Encouraging+Students+to+Ask+for+Help&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article_thoughtsonencouraging

for reading, spelling and writing help in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards, Orton-Gillingham Dyslexia Tutor, 614-579-6021; or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

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+ Kids Need to Learn Manners, Says a Pediatrician

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Perri Klass, MD, writes in the NY Times that she as a pediatrician doesn’t call children “rude” or even describe them that way in her medical records.

But she does make judgements, she says, and so do all pediatricians.

Finding “Miss Manners’ Guide to Rearing Perfect Children,” by Judith Martin very useful, she called her to ask why Martin feels so strongly that manners are at the heart of the whole parental enterprise.

Martin said, “Every infant is born adorable but selfish and the center of the universe.”  It’s the parent’s job to teach that “there are other people, and other people have feelings.”

Writes Klass:

The conversations that every pediatrician has, over and over, about ‘limit setting’ and ‘consistently praising good behavior’ are conversations about manners.

And when you are in the exam room with a child who seems to have none, you begin to wonder what is going on at home and at school, and questions of family dysfunction or neurodevelopmental problems begin to cross your mind.

Dr Barbara Howard, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and an expert on behavior and development, tells Klass that a child’s manners are a perfectly appropriate topic to raise at a pediatric visit.

Howard says

It has a huge impact on people’s lives — why shouldn’t you bring it up?  Do they look you in the eye?  If you stick your hand out do they shake it?  How do they interact with the parents; do they interrupt, do they ask for things, do they open Mommy’s purse and take things out?

She suggests that the whole “manners” concept might seem a little out of date; cast it as “social skills.”  These days, “social skills” are a very hot topic.  They are necessary for success in school; they affect how you do on the playground, in the classroom, in the workplace.

Social skills are a profound set of challenges that complicate the lives of families living with children on the autism spectrum.  Such children have great difficulty learning social codes, deciphering subtle body language or tone of voice, and catching on to the rules of the game.

Therapy for these children can include systematic training in social skills.  Sometimes the training uses scripts for common human interactions.

“You Can Teach This Stuff”

One message that comes through is that “you can teach this stuff,” says Howard, “and we maybe aren’t teaching it as well as we should to children who are developing normally.”

Of course, one of the long-term consequences of being a rude child is that you become a rude adult.  Perhaps even a rude doctor.  There are bullies on the playground and bullies in the workplace.

It’s always disconcerting, writes Klass, to see an adult with 20years or more of professional practice under their belts, who still sees the world only in terms of his own wants, needs and emotions.  I want that so give it to me; I am angry so I need to hit; I am wounded so I must howl.

Klass likes Miss Manners’s approach because it lets a parent respect a child’s intellectual and emotional privacy —  I’m not telling you to like your teacher; I’m telling you to treat her with courtesy.  I’m not telling you that you can’t hate Tommy; I’m telling you that you can’t hit Tommy.

Your feelings, little one, are your own private business; your behavior, on the other hand, is public.

It is a counterintuitive lesson, and the first big one, that there are other people out there whose feelings must be considered.  And it affects a child’s most basic moral development. 

For a child, just as for adults, manners represent a strategy for getting along in life; they also offer a chance of successful intellectual engagement with the business of being human. 

Klass says

As a pediatrician, I worry about the trajectories of children’s growth and development: measuring a baby’s head size, weighing a toddler, asking about the language skills of a preschooler.  Manners are another side of the journey every child makes from helplessness to autonomy.

And a child who learns to manage a little courtesy, even under the pressure of a visit to the doctor, is a child who is operating well in the world, a child with a positive prognosis.

source: Perri Klass’s article in the Science Times on 1/13/09.  www.nytimes.com

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021   or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com