Some children have difficulty resolving conflicts independently. These children could benefit from being taught the Situation-Options-Consequences-Choices-Strategies-Simulation (SOCCSS) strategy to help them understand social situations and develop problem-solving skills at school and home. A description of each step is below:
1. SITUATION: After a social problem occurs, the child’s parents or teacher help him/her to identify the “who, what, when, where, and why” of the situation (i.e. Who was involved? What actually happened? When did it happen? Where did the problem occur? Why did it occur?). The child may need to be asked each of these questions at first, but the goal is that the child will eventually ask him/herself these questions independently.
2. OPTIONS: The child and his/her parents or teacher brainstorm all of the options that the child could have chosen. The child should name all of the options that were considered, and his/her parents or teacher should listen to all of them without evaluating them. The child may need to be encouraged to identify multiple options.
3. CONSEQUENCES: For each option that the child generates, a consequence for that behavior should be listed. Parents or teacher may ask the child, “So what would happen if you…?” If the child has difficulty naming the consequences of an option, role play or imagery strategies may help him/her to imagine the consequences.
4. CHOICES: The child should prioritize his/her options. This can be done using a numerical list (e.g. rank order from 1-10) or a “yes/no” response. Then, the parents or teacher should ask the child which option the child would be able to do and which will most likely achieve the best outcomes.
5. STRATEGIES: A plan should be developed so that the child can carry out the option if the situation occurs. Parents and teachers may collaborate with him/her on stages of the plan, but the child should generate the plan. This will help the child to feel responsible for his/her own decisions and the plan put in place.
6. SIMULATION: The child’s parents or teacher can help him/her to practice his/her plan using imagery, talking with him/her about the plan, assisting him/her with writing down the plan, or role-playing the plan with him/her. Practice is very important, and should continue until the child feels confident in carrying out the plan on his/her own.
Remember to be patient with your child and flexible with this strategy. As your child learns to use this system independently, he or she may only need brief clues from you in order to complete each step. Then, your child may just need a listening ear as he or she works through the steps without guidance.