December 13, 2016 | By: Kelly Mastin
My son had some significant behaviors when he was young. He had a difficult time controlling his emotions. He had angry outbursts that resulted in injuries to his family. He broke things, kicked, flailed, screamed, and cried.
He was begging for my help.
I used several strategies for helping my son better learn to control his emotions. One strategy I used was writing social stories for him.
The social stories would use my son’s name and photos. It was important for him to easily relate and put himself in the social stories. What better way to ensure that he relates easily than to use his name and photos.
The social stories were short, had few sentences per page (sometimes only one sentence per page), and gave very specific actions and responses for him to mimic.
The key to social stories is not to use “Don’t” or “Not.” Social stories are not a list of things for my son not to do. Instead it is all positives. The social stories portray the right way to show anger or other emotion.
My son’s social stories also validated his emotion. It was important for him to know that it is okay to be angry or sad or jealous or disappointed. Those are real emotions that we all experience. Yes, feel the emotion. And here are some appropriate things to do while you feel it.
After writing the social stories, I would print them and staple them together to make a book. Or I would put them in sheet protectors to make them more durable.
The idea with social stories is to read them repetitively and often. The social stories help him subconsciously learn to respond appropriately. Next time he’s angry and headed for a fit, then maybe he will recall the seventy-five times he read that social story with Mom and will maybe be able to make a better choice in his rage. Maybe he can choose one of those appropriate responses from the social story.
Social stories were not an overnight fix for my son. Nor did they work on their own. But they were a powerful tool in my toolbox. The social stories played a part in helping my son choose appropriate behaviors more often.