Interacting with others and maintaining friendships often requires a person to assume roles based on the nature of the relationship. Good relationships also may require students to be flexible about the amount of social control they exhibit in an interaction.
Students who understand how roles develop within groups allow each person to develop a role (neither too passive nor too controlling or authoritarian) that contributes to the effectiveness of the group. Individuals work together to allow each person to grow into his/her role, and may also allow group members to assume different roles at various times (e.g., sharing the role of leader).
Here are some strategies to help students develop skills in monitoring their degree or level of social control.
- Help a student recognize the non-verbal cues from others that indicate that he/she is exercising too little, too much, or the appropriate amount of control in social interactions.
- Help students reflect on unsuccessful social interactions, so they can learn from experience. Prompt students to ask themselves guiding questions, such as:
- “Should I have said something to my friend when he was picking on that new kid, instead of just watching and saying nothing?”
- “Does this person not want to be around me because I sound (or act) too bossy?”
- “Did that person say “no” when I asked him/her to come over to my house because he/she doesn’t know me very well, is upset with me, or because he/she had other things to do?”
- Students who have difficulty exhibiting appropriate levels of social control will need to be resilient, especially if others move away from them. A student may find that he/she will need to have and use recuperative strategies to restore a bruised relationship.
- Structure classroom activities to enhance the likelihood that students’ interactions will be positive, e.g., by encouraging cooperative projects. Help students learn to avoid potentially negative interactions or to remove themselves from a negative interaction when it occurs.