Pro-Social Bonding

The interactions between a child and caregiver provide the foundation for his or her capacity for social bonding.  Social bonding is a crucial element in a person’s ability to trust him or herself and others, form meaningful social connections, take appropriate risks, and adapt to change.  Inadequate bonding, on the other hand, establishes patterns of insecurity and self-doubt and a fundamental sense of mistrust in self and others.  At school or at home, one key strategy for building and promoting resilience in children and adolescents is to increase pro-social bonding. 


HOME STRATEGIES

1.  Increase interaction with your child.

  • Ensure interaction is frequent, consistent, and mutually meaningful.
  • Avoid or limit distractions like television and phone calls during your interaction.
  • Spend time alone with each child (you can create a special time of day or special day of the week).

2.  Create family rituals and traditions (i.e. bonding activities).

  • Give each family member a role to play in carrying out the family ritual.
  • Make sure that the ritual or tradition is enjoyable for all family members.
  • Carry out family rituals regularly.
  • Examples of rituals and traditions might include: game nights, family dinners, pajama Saturdays, movie night, family bike rides, family meetings, family homework time.

3.  Nurture sibling relationships.

  •  Encourage cooperative play rather than competitive play.
  • Avoid comparison of children in both negative (e.g. “Why can’t you keep your room clean like your sister?”) and positive (e.g. “You know, you are much better at science than he is.”) ways.

4.  Nurture peer relationships.

  • Arrange play dates,  movie nights,  or game nights.
  • Get to know your child’s peers and their families.

5.  Be a social role model.

  • Demonstrate pro-social behaviors in the home.
  • Provide opportunities for children to observe adults’ positive, pro-social behaviors and relationships.
  • Discuss friendships (yours and theirs) with them, including qualities of good friends.

6.  Foster positive communication skills.

  • Establish open and consistent lines of communication.
  • Make and maintain time for communication.
  • Role model qualities of pro-social communication (e.g. active listening, eye contact, empathy).



SCHOOL STRATEGIES

1.  Establish positive teacher-student relationships.

  • Establish independent relationships with all of your students.
  • Interact individually with students as frequently as possible and in ways that are mutually meaningful.
  • Interact with students in non-academic ways to get to know students’ non-academic strengths and abilities.

2.  Create classroom and/or school rituals and traditions (ie. bonding activities).

  • Provide each student with a role in the ritual or tradition.
  • Carry out rituals regularly (e.g. class dances, hallway marches, show and tell, A World of Difference, class debate day, hat Friday, class meetings, class fundraisers, etc.).

3.  Nurture peer relationships.

  • Provide opportunities for students to engage in peer-tutoring activities where they can learn from each other.
  • Facilitate team-building activities in your classroom not only at the beginning of the year, but also periodically throughout the year.
  • Encourage cooperative pay rather than competitive play.
  • Avoid comparison of students in both negative (e.g. “Why can’t you keep your desk clean like Ahmed?)” and positive (e.g. “You know you’re much better at science than Hannah.”) ways.

4.  Be a social role model.

  • Demonstrate pro-social behaviors in the classroom, cafeteria, during school events, etc.
  • Provide opportunities for students to observe staff members’ positive social interactions.
  • Discuss the concepts of friendship and qualities of a good friend within the learning environment.

5.  Foster positive communication skills.

  • Establish open and consistent lines of communication.
  • Make and maintain time for communication.
  • Role model qualities of pro-social communication (eg. active listening, eye contact, expression of empathy).
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