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Summer is a great time to focus on leisure, recreation, and social skills with your child or young adult. With nice weather, there’s an abundance of fun and inexpensive experiences to be shared.

•  Step One: Plan Your Outing
Get your child or young adult involved. Choose a date/time. Pick a destination! Some ideas are a trip to the mall, museum, zoo, bowling alley, sporting event, the movies, or a swimming pool or beach. Insure motivation by having child or young adult help create a list of things that they would like to see or do. Remind them they will have to be flexible. Weather, traffic, closings, and time restrictions sometimes interfere with even the best laid plans!

Another option is to plan a social gathering at your home. A picnic, field day activities, an ethnic meal, or a game and/or movie night can be a fun, cost effective alternative. Create lists of necessary food and materials. This will help with shopping and set up. Write down suggested activities before the event  to help keep participants entertained at the time of the event. Working with your child on a flexible plan of action will help ensure the success of the gathering.

•  Step Two: Invitees
Help your child or young adult identify friends or family who may also enjoy the destination and/or proposed activities. Learning to extend an invitation and provide details about the outing will help improve  communication skills. Write a script for a verbal invitation, then role play the phone call. Practicing on the phone will help reduce anxiety and build confidence in the ability to relay details.

• Step Three: Party Behavior
This is a good time to reinforce simple social skills. Talk about what it means to be a good host (using your best manners, making everyone feel welcome, introducing all guests, choosing correct greetings, and using good table manners). Review sportsmanship skills (trying your best, being kind, taking turns, sharing, being patient), and listening skills (maintaining eye contact, don’t interrupt, don’t dominate the conversation). Reinforcing, practicing, and using these important interpersonal skills will help your child or young adult manage social interactions for many years to come.

If minor problems arise during the outing or function, make a mental note and find a time after the festivities to discuss how they might have been handled more effectively. Begin by praising appropriate behaviors, and letting your child understand that your goal is to help make future activities more fun and successful. Make sure this discussion is a “brainstorming” session, not a disciplinary one! Help your child or young adult participate in thinking up strategies that will avoid the problem in the future. As part of the solution, they usually remember the strategies and apply them more readily to  future situation.

Ensure the opportunity for everyone to have a good time! Remember, the main purpose of the outing or activity is to expose your child or young adult to new experiences where they can use and practice appropriate social interactions.

Enjoy and Have Fun!

Posted by Jane Quinn, abcteach team

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