Social Development Strategy

Parents giving their kids piggybacks, waist up

We all want our kids to make good choices. For instance, most parents want their kids to try hard in school, or refrain from using drugs. The Social Development Strategy is a highly intuitive model that can help us influence our kids behavior. Whether you are a parent, teacher, or youth group leader, these skills are applicable and adaptable across the board.

1. Opportunities

The first step is to provide opportunities for kids. This does not have to be related to the healthy behavior you are trying to encourage. Any opportunity for involvement that is age appropriate and meaningful to the child. It could be letting the child care for the classroom pet, or choose what to make for family dinner one night.

2. Skills

If opportunities are too easy, they won’t be meaningful. If they are too hard, the child may get discouraged. It’s helpful to provide opportunities that require new skills. When you teach these skills to the child, make sure to focus on one small step at a time so they can feel competent and not get overwhelmed. For example, teach them to fold clothes, make the bed, etc., rather than teaching them in one sitting to clean their entire room.

Teacher assisting young male student with lesson as he listens intently.

3. Recognition

Recognition work best when it is meaningful to the child. Some kids love being recognized on a stage in front of the whole school, while others would prefer a note from the teacher written on a good assignment. Consider the 5 Love Languages of Children when recognizing them for good work. Recognition is an important step, because it leads to the fourth step.

4. Bonding

Kids feel bonded to those that give them recognition. This could be a parent, teacher, school or community. Bonding is the “secret sauce” of the Social Development Strategy. There are lots of ways to bond with your child, and it’s usually very natural to incorporate the steps above into different activities. Things that kids typically Bonding provides the motivation for the fifth, most important step.

5. Healthy behaviors

In this step, kids follow clear standards for healthy behavior. They form healthy beliefs about life, such as wanting to stay drug free. It’s important that as the adult you can set clear standards, so kids know what is expected of them and how to live a healthy life.

The best part about the social development strategy is that it is so adaptable. It allows for consideration of the child’s individual characteristics, ability level and circumstances at every step.

Dr. Hawkins explains more in this short video:

Comments or Questions?