“I feel like I live on my own planet, and everyone else lives on this one!”
I will never forget those words. In 1990, 8-year-old Eric poignantly described the pain and loneliness he experienced with his peers. He worked diligently in therapy to learn the skills he needed to make and keep friends, but every week he said the same thing: “I know you like me. And my parents love me. But the kids in my class don’t. I just don’t know why.”
Eric was not alone. Virtually all of the kids I saw in one-on-one therapy told me stories about being bullied, feeling isolated and left out, and wanting desperately to have a friend. Yet they struggled to take what they learned in sessions with me and apply it in the real world, so they remained lonely and distressed.
Children learn best and can practice social skills in the company of other children, so I brought these kids together in a therapeutic group setting where they could feel safe and accepted. Their relief and excitement were immediate and palpable.
Our Stepping Stones Social Skills Training Program grew organically out of that first group. Beginning in 1995, we have also partnered with active, involved parent coaches in simultaneous parent groups to help hundreds of kids develop and maintain peer relationships.
My passion is helping children gain confidence and learn new ways to interact successfully with their peers—in effect, to raise their social IQs. This site offers articles, coaching strategies and resources to help concerned parents support their efforts in raising children who feel safe and connected in the world.
“We heard about In Step from our pediatrician who recommended the social skills group called Stepping Stones. My son had some sensory processing and expressive language problems, which made it difficult for him to make friends in kindergarten. The program started with basic social skills like improving eye contact and identifying facial expressions, and then advanced to more complex issues like topic maintenance, taking turns in conversations, conflict management, and how to handle bullying. My son really enjoyed his therapist Miss Kelly, the other kids in his group and the games and stories they used, so it was a great environment for learning and practicing these skills. In the parents’ group, we learned how to reinforce the skills the kids were working on each week and practice with them at home and on play dates throughout the week. By the end of the session, I was so impressed that I now honestly think this program should be standard as part of the early elementary curriculum in schools. It was wonderful to see my son grow more confident over the course of several months and become more outgoing and socially adept than he was before. I would definitely recommend Stepping Stones to any family whose child is experiencing any kind of social difficulty.”
—Ellen, McLean, Va.