Leading authorities who have researched the subject of social and emotional learning have concluded that levels of adjustment, psychological health and academic achievement are directly related to a child’s social competency, emotional literacy, and ability to form successful peer relationships. For this reason, we find it very important to foster prosocial behavior in developing children, which we aim to accomplish with our unique social skills group.
The mission of the Dragon Masters social skills group is to develop a young child’s social competence and emotional literacy. Therefore, each member is encouraged to experience and examine their peer interactions and uncomfortable emotions within the safe environment of the group.
Our Dragon Masters Social Skills Groups are designed to help to children and adolescents who are having difficulty with making and keeping friends.
Having a close friendship is paramount to healthy social and emotional development. In fact, research shows that not having a close friend by middle school can be a marker for life-long emotional challenges.
Who is this social skills group for?
Many of our clients have challenges from ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, or Autism Spectrum Disorder. These disorders can exacerbate challenges socializing with others. We do not allow children who externalize their anger or are aggressive in the group. The Dragon Masters is a bully-free zone!
The groups are open to all children between the ages of 8-16 who have been identified as struggling with social skill deficits and peer rejection, both of which impact interpersonal relationships.
What is our mission?
Our unique program’s goal is to assist your child in connecting with others so they begin to feel improved self-worth and enhanced self-esteem.
When your child begins to feel that same age peers like and respect them, self-esteem rises. This, in turn, leads to better academic performance and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Adults are the same way! We are social creatures. When you feel connected to your friends, you probably feel better and more inclined to socialize with other friends.
Once your child begins to learn how to make and keep friends, their confidence rises. Because of this, your child will start to ask for more play-dates. Most importantly, they will have the ability to sustain friendships with the tools they learned in the social skills group.
What is the secret to our success?
The Dragon Master group is fun. In my experience, a child needs to have fun in order to feel motivated to continue to come back long-term. And our clients do come back. Our retention rate is nearly 90%, with some of our clients staying as long as 3-4 years. It is in the second or third year that I begin to see sustained success. This is why manualized programs used at other clinics don’t work. Firstly, no child wants to be “taught” anything from a book or manual at 4pm on a Tuesday. Also, while you may see progress at Week 8, most if not all of the learned behaviors will be lost six months after the program ends.
What will my child learn?
While we use behavior modification in our social skills group, rewarding the children for prosocial behaviors, the approach is organic and fluid. For example: If a child demonstrates prosocial behavior (i.e., sharing, listening, empathizing, offering support, etc.) he or she is rewarded in the moment so they are encouraged to continue to behavior. Most importantly, others in the group learn what prosocial behaviors are important.
With each successive level of achievement, children receive a different dragon t-shirt. They rise in the ranks to the ultimate title of Wizard. Click on this link to see the different dragon t-shirts your son will receive. Click to see Dragon Master Shirts
These are the skills your child will learn:
Being a “Good Friend”
- Listening to another quietly
- Offering support and encouragement
- Offering a similar story or situation as a means of support
- Sharing a turn
- Being Modest
Being Emotionally Honest
Participating children are rewarded and encouraged to be emotionally honest. They learn how to discuss uncomfortable topics, using feeling words and a willingness and courageousness to “go deep.” The goal here is that children become comfortable expressing uncomfortable emotions. With this foundation, they grow up to be adults who are able to express their emotions.
Children also are working on individual behaviors that are unique to them.
Children and adolescents will gain greater acceptance, make friends, strengthen their communication skills, behave more appropriately, reduce anxiety, increase their frustration tolerance, and develop more confidence so they succeed socially.
The philosophy of The Sachs Center social skills group is to assess each child’s unique strengths and weaknesses individually, set goals and to monitor progress each semester. The social skills group is $100 per hour long session. We currently meet Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 5:oo p.m. at our Upper West Side location.
What do we do in the group?
The group meets once a week for one hour. The first half hour is a check-in with each child interviewing another child about their week. We place a special emphasis on asking how the other child felt, thus helping the interviewee learn to share his feelings in a prosocial way. The interviewer also learns to be empathetic, share similar feelings and ask follow-up questions.
The second half of the social skills group is free play time. In the office we will play different games, from board games to age appropriate video games that involve group play. The online version of this group uses Minecraft as the mode for play during the second half of the playtime. The children build things together in the safety and privacy of our own server (Realm).