Learning to relate to others involves engaging in the give and take of relationships. For example, friends in a group may not initially agree on the movie they will see or the game they will play. Students interacting in an activity may need to share supplies, take turns, etc. Reciprocal behaviors enable individuals to work out these types of situations, to maintain positive relationships, and to succeed socially.
Here are some strategies to help students develop their ability to engage in reciprocal behaviors.
- Reduce the emphasis on competition in the classroom. Provide opportunities for sharing and cooperative work (e.g., making a mural or bulletin board together). Encourage students to share materials and work cooperatively so that reciprocal interactions can take place.
- Provide special class activities at the end of the day as rewards for engaging in “reciprocal behaviors” (e.g., taking turns appropriately throughout the day).
- Help students establish short and long-term goals related to increasing the number of positive interactions with peers. For example, a contract may be drawn up in which a student agrees to increase the percentage of times that he shares materials in activities, takes turns in games, etc.
- Enhance the likelihood that a student’s interactions with a peer or peer group will be positive by setting up structured or guided opportunities in the classroom. For example, organize a small group activity that focuses on the student’s area of interest, in which each member participates together in the completion of the activity.
- Give students time to reflect on actions taken and alternatives not taken in an interaction, e.g., what could have been said, shared, etc.