Appropriate – Where Do You Draw the Line: Teaching Social Behaviors for Independent Living
Teaching Social Behaviors for Independent Living
As I sit on the beach, I reflect on our son’s success. I start to fall into a transcendental moment of pride. I even feel cocky as I watch him run up to hotel guests and introduce himself. Then in a flash it happens; he reaches forward and hugs a pretty girl in a skimpy bikini!
Like a well-trained triathlete, I spring from my chase lounge and run towards my son; my heart is pounding. I race to provide interference. Determined, I try to interrupt an awkward social situation. My finish line goal is to create understanding.
Just as I am within arm’s reach I hear the young girl exclaim, “Awww…. You are so cute!” She laughs and gives our son a big hug.
I begin to stammer. She looks at me like, “Lady….what’s your problem?”
Later that day I relate to my husband how “we” need to teach our “tween-aged” son it’s not OK to hug every young girl in a skimpy bikini. You can only imagine the grief I took from him, and every male friend, and family member, for “over reacting.” They ask, “since when is it a crime to hug beautiful surfer girls (wink-wink)? I am advised to just “relax.”
However, I contend there is a fine line between cute and creepy.
At almost 11 years of age, our son is five feet tall and full of early pubescent energy. Yes, I am proud that he no longer paces in a pattern reciting phrases while twisting his alternate limb. The days of pulling him out of the haze from a self-induced stim session are less frequent. However, the challenge now is how do I help him towards a life of independence? Can I insure a future that will not involve the authorities trying to resolve a misunderstanding? Am I just a dramatic Mama Bear with control issues? Perhaps I need to drop my helicopter behaviors and allow him to fly on his own. I think there is a balance for both of us. I do believe that thanks to a committed partnership between school and family units, we have managed to raise a confident young boy who has made lots of friends. In fact, he thinks he is a bit of a rock star. So to some extent I think we have done a few things right.
I have two lists to share with you. The first details what we have found to be successful from Pre-K through 3rd grade and the second is the strategies we continue to use to teach him social skills for an independent future.
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