Your child needs your help learning social skills. Your involvement as a parent is essential for your child to maintain new skills and use them in a variety of settings. You already help your child to develop social skills by modeling good social skills yourself and by creating situations in which your child can practice, for example, when you invite another child over to play or get your child involved in sports activities. With Stepping Stones, parents take it several steps further by becoming their child’s social skills coach. As coaches, parents practice techniques, games and exercises that help their child develop social proficiencies.
When we first added the parent component to Stepping Stones, many expressed feelings of doubt about its benefits. “How can these other parents understand what I am going through with my child? I just want the professional to tell me what to do.” Parents appeared uncomfortable, even reluctant to participate. Perhaps they felt embarrassed about sharing openly in a room full of strangers. We had been asking the children to open up and trust their fellow group members for years, but for many parents, looking into the mirror of the others in the group provoked anxiety.
It has been inspiring to watch Stepping Stones parents commit to the relational journey with their children. Rather than resist the hard work of social skills coaching, our Stepping Stones parents have pushed through their feelings of discomfort. They voiced questions or concerns inside the group, and as they began to take a more active role in their child’s growth and progress, the negative feelings dissipated and they relaxed. They now greet each other warmly in the waiting room and take comfort in the support of the other parents in the group.