Self statement utilization and social skills training with elementary school-aged children

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The present study included two investigations examining social skills in fourth grade elementary school children. The first investigation involved the examination of the use of inhibiting and facilitating self-statements (i.e., self-statements that would make it harder or easier to deliver on effective social response) by groups of withdrawn (n=33), aggressive (n=32), and popular (n=27) children across types of interpersonal situations (conflict, initiation of interactions) and relationships (friend, stranger). Results indicated that popular children showed significantly greater facilitating-inhibiting change scores on a self-report measure devised for the present investigation (Socialization Self-Statement Test), completed following the four behavioral analogue situations (Conflict Friend, Conflict Stranger, Initiate Friend, Initiate stranger). There was no significant difference between aggressive and withdrawn children on this measure. In addition, results indicated a greater tendency for children to endorse facilitative vs. inhibiting self-statements in those situations involving friends (vs. strangers) and the initiating of social behavior (vs. conflict situations). Finally, a Relationship x Situation interaction was found, indicating significantly higher facilitating-inhibiting scores in situations involving initiating interactions with friends.

In the second investigation, unpopular aggressive (n=24) and withdrawn (n=24) children were randomly assigned within sociometric categories to a behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, or attention control group and evaluated on a number of measures related to social competence (peer ratings, teacher ratings, direct observations, self-report). Results indicated no significant between-treatment group differences across assessment measures, although several significant within treatment group pre-post differences were found. The lack of between treatment group differences is discussed, along with some findings related to status group differences and correlational findings. Finally, suggestions for future research are introduced.