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Self-Management: The Ultimate Goal

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jan 12, 2011

The ultimate goal of all social skills instruction is for students to eventually manage themselves without needing external instruction, cuing, or reinforcement. Self-management is based on cognitive behavioral theory, which focuses on the interdependent relationship of the environment, behavior, and thinking and is based on three assumptions: (1) an individual's thinking affects his or her behavior, (2) an individual's thinking may be monitored and altered, and (3) desired behavior change may be affected through these changes in thinking.8 Individuals who successfully learn to self-manage carry with them the internal cues and reinforcement they need to engage in appropriate social behavior. There are several types of self-management we commonly use, which we define in Table 3.3.

As educators, our ultimate goal is to teach students to manage their own behavior, rather than relying on external controls, so that they continue to be successful when we are not with them. Self-management encourages students to take greater responsibility for their own behavior, which givesthema sense of ownership andcontrol that is inherently reinforcing and maymake it less likely that they will try to control the teacher's behavior. Teaching students to self-manage increases the likelihood that appropriate behavior will last over time and generalize to various settings and allows teachers to spend more time teaching and less time trying to control behavior. In addition, the defining, measuring, graphing, and evaluating involved in various types of self-management give meaningful practice for other parts of the curriculum.9 Self-management techniques have commonly been used with individual students to improve behavioral skills such as staying on task and paying attention. However, group behavioral management programs can also incorporate self-management principles.

Developing social skills across the skill and performance domains to the point that students are able to self-manage these skills and eventually become fluent is the focus of this book. Strategies to help develop self-management skills are integrated into each of the four components of the model (instruction, prevention, reinforcement, and undesirable consequences).

Key Points to Remember

  • Social skills have typically been taught with a combination of large group instruction of routine behaviors, small skill groups, and individual incidental teaching.
  • The most effective way to teach replacement behaviors is to combine functional assessment and individual social skills instruction.
  • Evidence-based social skills instruction includes direct instruction, modeling, practicing the skill through role plays, practicing the skill across settings, and receiving feedback on performance of the skill.
  • Teachers need to consider whether the student has a skill deficit, a performance deficit, or a fluency deficit when designing effective social skills instruction.
  • The ultimate goal of all social skills instruction is for the student to eventually self-manage without needing external instruction, cuing, or reinforcement.
  • Throughout this book, we incorporate self-monitoring, self-evaluation, self-reinforcement and/or self-graphing into each one of the four overall intervention components of instruction, prevention, reinforcement, and undesirable consequences.

Discussion Questions and Activities

  1. With the three-tiered positive behavior support triangle in mind, what are some social skills instruction activities that would occur for tier 1? Tier 2? Tier 3?
  2. Billy is a student with anger control issues. Frequently when playing with peers or when a consequence is given and he perceives something as unfair, he "blows.'' Knowing that there are three types of social skills deficits (skill, performance, and fluency), brainstorm some ways to discern which kind of social skill deficit this child has. What kinds of things would help you decide which kind of deficit he has? What kinds of questions do you need to ask?
  3. Give an example of how you could use each type of self-management strategy defined in this chapter: self-monitoring, self-evaluation, self-reinforcement, and self-graphing.
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