Kids who lack social skills and are unable to respond to nonverbal cues from their peers are more likely to get bullied, according to a recent story posted on LiveScience, a website devoted to "groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, and the environment."
Almost 30 percent of youth in the United States (or over 5.7 million) are estimated to be involved in bullying as either a bully, a target of bullying, or both, according to statistics from the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center.
LiveScience interviewed researchers who examined why kids get rejected by others in their peer group. These experts concluded that kids who had social problems also struggled in at least one of three different areas of nonverbal communication: reading nonverbal cues; understanding their social meaning; and coming up with options for resolving a social conflict.
"Shunned children have few opportunities to practice social skills, while popular kids are busy perfecting theirs," according to the article.
LiveScience interviewed Richard Lavoie, an expert in child social behavior. Lavoie, author of several books including "It's So Much Work to Be Your Friend: Helping the Child with Learning Disabilities Find Social Success," suggested a five-step approach to teaching social skills to kids. The process involves listening without judgment; asking the child to figure out his or her mistake; helping the child identify the cue they missed by asking questions instead of lecturing; using a scenario to explain the problem; and giving the child "social homework" by asking her or him to practice the new skill.
In addition to social skills, I also think it's important for our kids to learn how to be inclusive, tolerant and accepting of everyone -- even the kids who might seem awkward because of their inability to read social cues. We need to focus more on the bullies and changing their unacceptable behavior. I also believe we have to empower our kids to speak out whenever they witness bullying and harassment.
What are your thoughts on all this?