Raising a child is already a challenging job, but raising a child with behavioural issues can be a life-disrupting experience.
Now, your 2-year old’s tantrums don’t necessarily mean they have issues with authority. However, your fifth-grader, who shows angry outbursts or displays violent behaviour, may very well have some behavioural problems.
People with autism, ADHD, ODD, anxiety disorder, or a learning disorder, may develop behavioural symptoms in their childhood. While there’s no permanent cure for these disorders, you can manage them with some therapy – one such therapy is using social stories.
Social Stories – an Overview
You may be wondering what are social stories and how can they help with your child’s behavioural issues.
A social story is a special kind of story written to educate a child using some specific behavioural patterns.
Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to teach children with special needs. Your child will be able to learn about behavioural norms, expectations, and routines in a relatable and engaging way through social stories.
How does Social Story Work?
Social stories use written or visual cues to guide children who are struggling to get familiar with unknown social situations in the classroom and social settings (like the playground).
There are numerous applications of social stories. They can also be customized to your child’s needs and comprehension.
These stories are typically used in different steps with narrative words that best communicate the social situation.
Social stories can help with social skills, new experiences, transitions, learning routines, and even specific behavioural issues like hitting, spitting, etc.
Benefits of Social Stories
Social stories are quite easy to implement with children with behavioural disorders. It’s a quick way to help them learn appropriate behaviour.
Here are some of the reasons that will help you understand the importance of social stories.
Provide The Theory of Mind
This is one of the most important reasons why you should rely on social stories. Your child may have a hard time understanding others’ perspectives, particularly if they are on a spectrum like e autism, ADHD, or ODD.
If a child’s development in the theory of mind is delayed, they will have trouble coping with other people’s thoughts and feelings. Social stories help them piece together reasons why some people are acting the way they are, meaning that they will not overreact to certain behaviour.
Consistency in Learning
Whether you’re a teacher or a parent of a child with special needs, you might be struggling with many of their common behaviours such as hitting, talking out of turn, touching others, etc.
That’s why it’s essential to have a social story particularly designed for those behaviours, which will help promote an appropriate attitude.
The story can ensure consistency. As you practise the story with your child or student, you will find yourself using the same terminology with other children with similar behavioural issues.
Helps Children Make Friends
Does your child often fight with other kids? Or are they having trouble making friends due to their behaviour? Don’t worry! Social stories are here to your rescue.
The best part of a social story is that it can handle nearly any behaviour. Your child will learn appropriate behaviour such as talking with other children, responding in a friendly manner, not to get involved in a fight, etc.
Social stories encourage the development of empathy in children, which helps them make friends.
Some children with behavioural issues often struggle with remembering things. This is because they struggle to focus and concentrate on observing and learning.
Social stories can help in developing your child’s memory. Reading a particular story every day, which includes a series of events can help kids practise their memory skills.
Can Prevent The Meltdown
Social stories can help prevent some common behaviour in children such as tantrums and meltdowns as they will slowly start to learn what you expect of them. Since they practice social stories specially written for them, they will begin to apply those stories to shape other parts of their day.
Using a social story, you will be able to make your child understand situations that once seemed unfamiliar to him. It will ultimately reduce the meltdowns associated with being overwhelmed by unfamiliar situations.
How to Write Social Stories
A social story can be created using words and pictures, which will help a child to learn what to do in a given situation. It will also help them understand how other people feel and why they should respond in such a manner.
For example, the sentence you’re writing must include the action a child must take, and how other people feel by that action, such as “When I enter the classroom I will say ‘good morning’ to my teacher, which will make her happy.”
Remember, you must write stories from the children’s point of view. Doing so will make it easier for your child to recognize the moral of the story, meaning that the lesson will be more fruitful.
Try to use photos of your child or include an artwork made by him to make the story personal. Your child will see himself in the story since he has had a hand in helping to create it.
How to Present a Social Story
Once you’re done writing the story, introduce it to your child. Ask them some probing questions, like “How do you think the little girl feels?” “What must she do?”
It takes considerable time and hard work to change the behaviours, so it is essential to read the story every day so that your child can understand.
You can ask them questions like “Do you remember what happened with the girl I told you about yesterday? Let’s find out how she fixed her problem.”
Raising children with behavioural issues is quite challenging and requires a lot of patience and understanding from a parent. While some of these problems pass with time, some may require long term therapy.
Using social stories can be a fun and engaging way to introduce your little one to new experiences, as well as expectations in situations. It will prepare them to navigate a social situation appropriately by teaching them the right behaviour.