The development of social skills in teenagers is crucial in ensuring teens' overall ability to interact and be comfortable with others and learn proper behavior in diverse situations. Some teenagers have difficulty overcoming shyness or introverted behavior and need exposure to various activities focusing on the development of social skills. Psychiatrists and educators suggest many simple social skills activities to develop these skills.
Set Up an Interview with an Interesting Individual
If the teenagers have access to a video camera or even just a tape recorder, they can visit a person in the town and interview him. The person you choose need not be famous or a celebrity. In fact, he can be the neighborhood grocer, the mailman, a security officer, a bank manager, etc. Just ensure the interviewee is involved in something markedly different from school life. A working person is the best candidate for this activity, as he can talk about his profession. Have the teenagers create a list of relevant questions. This sort of activity encourages social interaction because it enables the teens to participate actively in a discussion (choosing the relevant questions), have a friendly debate with their peers, and think creatively and outside the box. For teens suffering from shyness, this activity is a further step because they must meet a new person: the interviewee. This enables them to put their best foot forward and develop their self-esteem by meeting a person on equal terms, and it also encourages active listening and effective communication as well as tolerance of another individual with different interests.
Produce a Play
High schoolers can benefit from writing and producing their own school play. This activity harnesses their creative juices and their ability to plan and coordinate with each other. Producing a play is not an easy task: it involves a lot of organization and planning, so the teenagers will have to assign tasks and roles depending on each individual's capabilities. For instance, if one is good at being a leader, she can be the director. If another is good at acting and performance, he can be the lead actor. Everyone should participate in the process of producing a play---from making and selling the tickets to designing props to writing, singing or acting. Each of these activities involves some kind of social interaction, whether it's group interaction or one-on-one interaction. This provides opportunities for teenagers to compromise with each other, handle conflicts and resolve them on their own, brainstorm and respect each other's ideas and opinions, negotiate and problem-solve; additionally, the production itself can serve as a significant ego-boost.
Play the "Everybody is a Star" Game
Developed by a group of teachers and education specialists in North Carolina, students throughout the southeastern state play this game. This game is part of "Energizers," the program that combines classroom based physical activities with academic concepts. The object of the activity is to create self-confidence and increase the students' ability to assess their social equals and come out of their shells as well as practice active listening. In the activity each student writes three to five questions a journalist would ask a celebrity. The instructor then divides the class into two groups: journalists and superstars. The journalists have five minutes to interview as many superstars as they can, asking only the three questions they wrote down. The superstars can never directly say their name or exactly what it is that they do. Additionally, the superstar group must constantly walk around. The journalists try to guess who the superstars are based on the answers to their questions. After the five minutes ends, the superstars reveal who they are and the journalists check to see if their guesses were correct. Afterwards the students can switch roles. An additional activity from this would be to incorporate writing techniques and inferences, having the students write an article about the superstars and share their writing with the class.
- Cheerful youth image by Aliaksandr Zabudzko from Fotolia.com