SERF Sudbury

Get Social: The Importance of Social Skills Before Going To College

Group of young people stacking hands together outdoor.If you, like many parents, have thought that college will be the chance for your unique, talented, brilliant, and quirky kid to finally be around their “people” and make some friends, you are not wrong. But, when kids get to college and find their people, they have to know, how to make these new friends, and how to feel comfortable and enjoy being around them. They need to know how to introduce themselves to other kids in their classes; how to ask their roommate to go to dinner together; how to feel comfortable joining the improv group. These are all skills. They also need to know how to hang out in a group, join in, participate, and enjoy being around other people. And if your kid is struggling with this now, it is not going to “magically” resolve once they get to college. They need practice.

So, instead of belaboring the point, let’s talk about what to do.

If your kid doesn’t really do many activities outside of school, I recommend that you have them start something. Really, it can be anything. Every social interaction helps. Here are some ideas.

    • Get a job: chit chat with customers, meet new people, make “work friends”-all excellent experience and exposure. CVS, restaurants, animal rescue, etc…
    • Work with younger kids: be compassionate, a listener, patience, experience the joy of little kids looking up to you and wanting to be around you, great for responsibility and self- esteem. Babysitting, religious school volunteer, camp counselor (number 1 recommendation-built in peer group).
    • Join a club: built in activities that don’t require pre-planning.
    • Start or try something new: step out of the comfort zone, experience doing new things, exposure to new potential hobbies or interests.
    • Make plans with friends: be an initiator (plans don’t always fall in our lap).
    • Join a therapy group: work on reading and navigating social cues, gaining confidence in social settings, self-awareness, and assertiveness.

College is a fun and exciting time, only made better by the friends we make. Let’s make sure these kids are set up for success.

Alison Ratner Mayer, LICSW is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) providing therapy for children, adolescents, and families and is owner of Child Therapy Boston located in Sudbury and Needham, MA. Child Therapy Boston provides counseling and social and emotional group therapy for kids and teens from preschool through high school. Alison and her team focus on providing atherapeutic space and approach that is warm, authentic and full of fun. The groups that they run offer kids and teens an opportunity to practice friendship and coping skills in real time through the use of creative and dynamic activities and interventions. Groups are fun, engaging, and exciting so that group members are connecting with each other and enjoying themselves. The goal is to create as much of a natural environment as possible to ensure the likelihood that children and teens can generalize and use the skills and feedback from group when they are at school or with their friends.

Anna received her Master of Social Work (MSW) from The Boston College Graduate School of Social Work a BA in Psychology from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. Alison began her initial private practice in Atlanta, GA. After a successful and rewarding tenure in Georgia, Alison announced her providential return to Boston in 2014. Alison has a passion for working with children, teens, siblings, families, and groups. She is confident that she can help individuals and families struggling with different mental health diagnoses. Alison also enjoys working with clients who are struggling with self-esteem, parent-child relationships, sibling relationships, peer relationships, divorce, grief and loss, bullying, life transitions, well sibling support, and sexual orientation. One of her primary goals is helping others find happiness and success within themselves and within their family and peer relationships.

Alison’s approach to therapy is unique, thoughtful, and individualized for the clients and groups that she works with. She focuses on including parents in the therapeutic process to help bring about positive change, encourage open communication, and to ensure that skills can be generalized and applied outside of the therapy setting.