Teen Treatment Programs for Poor Social Skills
Not all teens with social anxiety have poor social skills. They may feel overwhelmed in certain social situations, like attending mass gatherings or advocating for help, but they have the skills to have successful interactions with a smaller circle of peers. Some teens struggle with poor social skills across the board–whether it’s due to anxiety, insecure attachment, or trouble understanding social cues. Residential treatment centers, like Solstice West, take a relationship-based approach to helping teens heal from relational trauma associated with poor social skills. We understand that for some students, they have missed opportunities to develop healthy attachments and positive social skills due to external circumstances and that others have experienced bullying and rejection as a result of social skills. In order to address these “traumas,” we help teens build condence and communication strategies that help them have stronger relationships.
The guide is meant to be comprehensive, but as such, not every section will be applicable to everyone. Instead, we invite you to click on the links in the table of contents to jump to the sections that most interest you.
How Does Solstice RTC Help Teens with Poor Social Skills?
Solstice West provides a nurturing, safe environment for teens to improve their poor social skills. With our positive peer culture and relationship-based programming, teens can learn and practice appropriate social and relational skills while also improving coping skills to manage any associated anxiety or stress.
We offer specialty groups specifically for social skills and time for practicing and role playing. Our equine therapy offers further processing and understanding of nonverbal cues as well as a space to work on healthy boundaries. Our academic team works closely with each student to support their own unique learning style, and our small class sizes offer individualized academic support. With time and practice, teens that arrive with poor social skills leave with better impulse control, a better understanding of healthy friendships and relationships, and significantly improved family relationships. These improved social and leadership skills result in better self-esteem, empowering teens to move forward without the fears about their social skills. More importantly, students leave Solstice West with lifelong friendships that will continue to flourish after they graduate.
What are the Causes of Poor Social Skills in Teens?
Social skills are the skills that we use throughout the day to communicate and navigate our world. It is how we maintain positive relationships with others, and they are typically learned throughout early childhood. Poor social skills result in stained social interactions and diffculty building and maintaining relationships. There are several things that can make it more diffcult for children and teens to develop appropriate social skills:
• Nonverbal learning disabilities (NVLD): Teens with NVLDs struggle to read social cues (such as crossed arms signaling not wanting to talk anymore). Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Teens that have ADHD struggle with impulse control, and this is true in social situations as well. They may blurt out exactly what they are thinking, even if it is inappropriate or interrupts someone.
• Social communication disorder (SCD): For teens with SCD, spoken language is particularly challenging. Nonverbal communication is also an issue. The excessive use of technology may be contributing to poor social skills formation. Becoming overly reliant on screen time and online interaction can lead
some children and teens to follow the same patterns and habits in person. This overdevelopment of online communication skills creates a deficit in face-to-face communication and social skills.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Poor Social Skills?
• Doesn’t understand facial expressions
• Shares too much information
• Avoids eye contact or makes too much eye contact
• Doesn’t understand sarcasm
• Stress or loneliness about social situations
• Prefers to interact with adults as opposed to peers
• Needs regular reminders of how to respond appropriately
• Anxiousness or anxiety
How Does Treatment Help Teens with Poor Social Skills?
Seeking out support can help improve your teen’s poor social skills. Your child’s school may have support systems in place that can assist in improving these skills during the school day. A school counselor, learning specialist, or special education department will likely be able to point you in the right direction.
Other behaviors that might have your teen being out of practice can be changed as well. For example, setting appropriate limits on screen time and avoiding too much social isolating will be helpful in having their regularly practice social skills. This can include joining clubs and engaging in group activities for the things they enjoys doing individually. They can even role play certain scenarios with you in order to gain confidence. They may also need specific directions: not just “be nice” but “smile, make eye contact, and nod” will be helpful.
A weekly social skills group has been shown to be very helpful with improving social skills and decreasing negative behaviors. This is true regardless of what caused the social skills deficit. Having your teen in a welcoming and caring environment will also be beneficial. Poor social behavior can be exacerbated when teens are feeling judged or attacked. Finding the right placement in school or classes will be beneficial while they are learning and growing their social abilities.
How Does Solstice West implement a holistic approach to treatment?
Solstice West takes a whole-person, holistic approach when it comes to helping teens with poor social skills. This means that we consider all the different parts and pieces that may be affecting your child and their poor social skills, including their social, emotional, academic, medical, nutritional, and spiritual needs. We believe that all these things contribute to their well-being as well as the mind-body connection. Here are some examples of how we integrate this approach into the program:
• Mindfulness: Our daily mindfulness practice seeks to help your child recognize what they are feeling and how that is showing up for her. The fffirst step in being able to overcome or regulate strong emotions is being able to name the emotion and recognize how that shows up in your body. Mindfulness is just like any other exercise: doing it daily will help strengthen that muscle.
• Nutrition: Our dietitian utilizes the Intuitive Eating model which allows students to recognize hunger and fullness cues, as well as provide choices for healthy eating habits. They also provides nutrition classes and approves the menu that is served at Solstice West.
• Fitness: With daily PE/fitness classes, we want to get our students moving and having fun! We emphasize that fitness is about more than physical activity: it contributes to emotional well-being and positively impacts brain function.
• Being outside: With Adventure Therapy every Friday, we make sure our students have time to get outside and get back in their bodies. Our Adventure Therapy program consists of outdoor recreation, experiential education and community service