Attending to both verbal and non-verbal elements becomes important once an interaction begins. Social self-monitoring involves attending to one’s own behavior in social interactions, as well as to the language and actions of others in response.
Students must use this feedback information in order to evaluate the success or failure of their interactions with others. For example, another student’s facial or physical expressions (e.g., frowns, arm crossing, head turning, etc.) all convey feedback about the level of social success one is attaining. The immediate nature of self-monitoring allows students to use feedback to know when to continue positive behaviors, and when to modify actions or language when interactions are unsuccessful.
Here are some strategies to help students develop their ability to self-monitor during social interactions.
- Teach students explicit self-monitoring techniques through direct instruction. For example:
- Enhance students’ recognition of behavior patterns. Use films, pictures, case studies, short stories, etc. that present a wide range of non-verbal and verbal indicators of emotions and thoughts.
- Improve students’ ability to store, remember and identify the specific language of positive and negative interactions (saliency determination). Help students learn to associate potential responses to situations, and to have these responses readily available in their long-term memory.
- Help students develop automaticity in social self-monitoring. Encourage them to practice both the recognition and retrieval of self-monitoring skills until the skill becomes “automatic.”
- Use role-playing activities to improve students’ ability to use self-monitoring skills. For example:
- Set the stage for role-playing by beginning with scripted interaction situations, then move on to improvisation.
- Analyze the social role-play with students. Give students time to reflect on actions taken and alternatives not taken, e.g. what they did effectively, what they could have said differently, etc.
- Reconstruct the activity and help students become aware of more effective monitoring techniques.
- Move students beyond role-play situations when possible. For example:
- Help a student reflect upon actual social interactions with peers after an exchange has taken place.
- Use an advance organizer that helps students see how the skill to be worked on (e.g., social self-monitoring) fits into the context of their real friendships and daily social interactions.