1 AUTHOR: BERNADETTE DELGADO RIVERA AND DIANA ROGERS-ADKINSON TITLE: Culturally Sensitive Interventions: Social Skills Training with Children and Parents From Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds SOURCE: Intervention in School and Clinic v33 p75-80 N ’97 The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited. ABSTRACT The rapid demographic changes in the United States pose a challenge to educators and practitioners in providing services that are sensitive to the needs of children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Social competence is paramount to function successfully in school and community environments. Misinterpretation of culturally linked behavior places these children in conflict with expectations for social behaviors between home and school. This article provides an overview of cultural influences on social behaviors of children from diverse backgrounds and suggests practical applications for developing and implementing social skills training programs for these children and their parents. The rapidly increasing diversity of the U.S. population has spawned a growing interest in the social competence of culturally diverse children in educational settings. The number of young culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) children entering educational settings is increasing rapidly, but the number of practitioners with expertise and background in working with CLD children is low (Ochoa, Rivera, & Ford, in press). Separate national surveys of school psychology and early childhood special education practitioners (Ford, Rivera, & Ochoa, 1996; Ochoa et al., in press) revealed that respondents considered their training with respect to serving culturally and linguistically diverse children as less than adequate. In light of these findings, it is critical for practitioners, including educators and social workers, to become aware of cultural considerations to develop educational programs that are sensitive to the needs of these populations, in particular with regard to social skills. This article provides an overview of important cultural variables to be considered when developing and implementing social skills training programs for culturally diverse children and parents. Practical applications are also suggested. DEFINING SOCIAL SKILLS Social skills have been defined as specific abilities that enable the individual to perform competently at particular social tasks (McFall, 1982). In turn, the acquisition of skills for successful social relationships represents an important developmental accomplishment that is indicative of lifelong social competence (Elliot, Racine, & Bruce, 1995; Greshman, 1995). Deficiencies in social competence, by contrast, may place a child at risk for poor academic performance, social maladjustment, peer rejection, and psychopathology. With no intervention, deficiencies in social skills may be predictive of poor social interactions in adolescence and adulthood. Thus, identification and treatment of children who are experiencing delays or deficiencies in social—emotional development warrant the attention of educators and practitioners (Elliot et al., 1995). Social skills training for children who have been identified as demonstrating behavior problems and having difficulty with peer interactions has been shown to have a positive effect on these children’s prosocial behaviors (Greshman & Nagle, 1980). Further, improvement in social skills appears to result in improved academic achievement and vice versa (Cartledge & Milburn, 1995). For these reasons, social skills instruction is increasingly being recommended for children with disabilities and included in Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). BERNADETTE DELGADO RIVERA AND DIANA ROGERS-ADKINSON: Culturally Sensitive 2 When determining the social behaviors to be targeted for instruction, several factors must be taken into consideration: the child’s developmental level, which may facilitate or retard learning and retaining skills; the cultural and situational context; the views of those who make up the child’s environment; and the likelihood that social skills will be valued and reinforced by others once they are learned (Cartledge & Milburn, 1995). The sociocultural context in which children exist strongly influences each individual’s attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors (Rivera, 1995). An understanding of social behaviors within the child’s cultural context will enable educators and other practitioners to work more effectively with children from diverse backgrounds and to distinguish between social skills differences and deficiencies. CULTURAL INFLUENCES ON SOCIAL BEHAVIORS This section presents culturally influenced behaviors among the four largest minority groups in the United States: Hispanic American, African American, Native American, and Asian American. It is the intention of the authors to refrain from applying limited and constrictive ideas and from perpetuating stereotypes of minority social behaviors. However, several distinct social behaviors have been identified within these cultural groups. A presentation of these behaviors is deemed necessary to provide the reader with concrete examples that facilitate culturally sensitive practices (see Table 1). According to Leung (1990), children from diverse backgrounds are often described as overcompliant, timid, indecisive, and lacking leadership. As a result, many people consider these children socially incompetent in a broader social context (Cartledge & Milburn, 1995), while overlooking the fact that some of these behaviors are expected and rewarded in the children’s cultural environment. Children from Hispanic American backgrounds, for instance, learn to give unquestioned obedience and respect to parents and authority figures (Rivera, 1995). These children are raised to display a set of behaviors described by Harwood, Miller, and Irizarry (1995) as “proper demeanor.” Proper demeanor entails interpersonal skills expected of a “well-socialized” adult and defines who you are as a person and how others will respond to you. A child who demonstrates proper demeanor is a child who is educado (well taught, well brought up), tranquilo (calm), obediente (obedient), and respetuoso (respectful). Proper demeanor is essential to be accepted by the community, and the lack of such behavior reflects poorly not only on the individual but also on the family as a whole. Thus, Hispanic American childrearing practices focus on raising well-mannered, passive children. Consequently, Hispanic American children seem to have fewer problems than other children dealing with conflict due in part to the passive style emphasized in their home environments. Passivity, however, interferes with the assertiveness needed to function in the mainstream classroom, make friends, and avoid victimization. A passive style as well as deference and respect for authority are also traits that have been ascribed to Native Americans and Asian Americans (Cartledge & Milburn, 1995). Conversely, African-American children are often raised to be assertive and persistent in their problem-solving style (Holliday, 1989), and, therefore, frequently end up being described as aggressive by mainstream teachers. Additionally, African-American children are encouraged to be tough and not to trust authority figures unquestioningly (Cartledge & Milburn, 1995)—behaviors that may be often misinterpreted as defiance and lack of respect. Other cultural variables influence the social behaviors demonstrated by culturally diverse children. For example, an emphasis on cooperation as opposed to competition has been attributed to most minority groups (Hamayan & Damico, 1990). In contrast, mainstream classrooms in the United States generally encourage competition. As a BERNADETTE DELGADO RIVERA AND DIANA ROGERS-ADKINSON: Culturally Sensitive 3 result, students raised in cooperative societies (e.g., Native American, Hispanic American, Asian American) may experience difficulties adjusting to the mainstream classroom environment. Competition is viewed as self-serving and negative; therefore, to be viewed as competitive rather than cooperative would bring shame rather than pride to the home environment (Lynch & Hanson, 1992). These children may function more efficiently in cooperative than in competitive settings. Moreover, the strong sense of collectivism emphasized by many minority groups may create difficulty for children when attempting to establish individual goals, which continue to be emphasized in the mainstream educational curriculum. The concept of time varies across cultures, and different cultural groups hold different views about the use of time. For example, the Anglo American culture places great emphasis on being on time and using time efficiently. Children from diverse backgrounds may be at a disadvantage in settings where time is strongly emphasized. Along the same lines, present versus futuristic orientation causes conflict for most diverse groups. School often stresses the need to master current goals for the purpose of future rewards in terms of entering higher education or the job market. However, children from diverse cultural groups may become confused about the purpose of establishing goals when home stresses mastery of each day as it comes rather than a projective reality. Nonverbal communication is another culturally influenced behavior that deserves attention. Proximity and touching vary across cultures both in type and their range. Anglo Americans tend to maintain distance between themselves and others during conversation unless they are familiar with the others. Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans are comfortable with closer conversational proximity, whereas Asian Americans prefer more space between the speaker and the listener (Lynch & Hanson, 1992). The amount and type of physical contact permissible is highly influenced by culture. For children from Hispanic American groups, for example, lack of contact between the child and the mainstream adults and peers may be interpreted as rejection. Among many Asian American groups, in contrast, hugging, back slapping, and hand-shaking are not typical and should, therefore, be avoided. In the Anglo American culture, eye contact is valued in interpersonal relationships (Lynch & Hanson, 1992), where it is seen as a sign of trustworthiness, sincerity, and directness. Among other cultural groups, however, eye contact is interpreted differently. For example, withholding eye contact when interacting with authority figures, particularly when reprimanded, is strongly emphasized in Hispanic American groups (Harry, 1994). For African Americans, making eye contact with someone in authority is often viewed as disrespectful. Likewise, among Asian Americans, eye contact with strangers may be considered disrespectful. Facial expressions also vary across cultural groups. For example, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans often do not communicate emotion to the observer through facial expressions (Lynch & Hanson, 1992). With regard to verbal communication, children from Hispanic American and Asian American groups engage in limited verbal expression toward authority figures, which may place the diverse child at a disadvantage in settings that place great emphasis on verbal expression. Conversely, African Americans’ language patterns often allow simultaneous talk with a high level of facial and gestural communication (Seymour, Champion, & Jackson, 1995). This pattern can also be seen as problematic as speaker—listener interactions may appear to be violated from the mainstream culture perspective, where turn-taking in communication is expected and valued. Finally, the concept of fate versus individual responsibility appears to influence social behaviors. Different groups ascribe different beliefs to the individual’s control over the environment. Within some Hispanic American cultures, for example, control is BERNADETTE DELGADO RIVERA AND DIANA ROGERS-ADKINSON: Culturally Sensitive 4 seen as lying outside the individual, and outside factors are seen as being largely responsible for what happens to people. Children from these groups may not be easily motivated because they may believe they cannot control and influence their own performance (Hamayan & Damico, 1990). IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL SKILLS TRAINING The culture in which we grow up has an impact on the social behaviors we exhibit across settings. Children from culturally diverse backgrounds may exhibit culturally based behaviors that might be misinterpreted by mainstream peers and adults, who, in turn, may view them as functioning unsuccessfully in the mainstream school environment (Cartledge & Milburn, 1995). For the social skills trainer, an understanding of culturally influenced behaviors is essential to distinguish between social skills differences and deficiencies. Therefore, an awareness of social behaviors displayed by various cultural groups facilitates the planning and implementation of social skills programs (see Table 2). When assessing social behaviors for instruction, the social skills trainer must consider the following: * Cultural influences on the child’s behaviors to be able to determine if a given behavior is in fact a difference rather than a deficit. * Traditional cultural values and beliefs systems and integrate them into social skills training programs for culturally diverse children (Cartledge & Milburn, 1995). For example, children from cultural groups that stress collectivism function better when social learning fosters cooperation and positive peer interactions within a group context. * Social skills instruction that promotes an understanding of cultural differences and positive interactions across peer groups. If children are able to label a behavior as a function of culture rather than as being “wrong” or “different,” then overall social interactions can increase in both quality and form. Group instruction should emphasize cooperation rather than mastery of only individualistic goals. * Alternate techniques when utilizing role plays. Multiple solutions should be demonstrated to allow processing of response styles based on cultural perspective. Also, role playing or enactment should facilitate an understanding of situations that are relevant to the culture of the child while also facilitating successful functioning in the mainstream culture. It is important to assist children from culturally diverse backgrounds in maintaining the identity of their home culture while simultaneously helping them to function effectively in the mainstream environment. IMPLICATIONS FOR WORKING WITH PARENTS Familiarity with parents’ views of their children’s social behaviors and their children’s social difficulties is necessary to understand the context from which the behavior may be derived. That is, a child’s apparent social deficiencies in the mainstream environment may be deemed appropriate at home. Thus, the instruction of social behaviors considered essential for functioning within successfully mainstream settings may be a source of conflict for the child in the home setting. Asian American parents, for instance, may view the child’s social difficulties as indicative of inadequate parental training or of disobedience in a traditional sense, rather than some intrinsic disorder (Harry, 1994). To avoid misjudgment of culturally diverse children’s social behaviors, approaches to parent training must * Be based on respect for cultural differences and offered in culturally appropriate ways (Harry, 1994). * Work within the context of family values and traditions, using professional knowledge and skills to build on existing family strengths (Harry, 1994). BERNADETTE DELGADO RIVERA AND DIANA ROGERS-ADKINSON: Culturally Sensitive 5 * Consider the various family structures distinctive of culturally diverse groups. For example, a parent training approach that promotes democratic methods might not be accepted by cultural groups characterized by an autocratic family structure, in which the father is the authority figure and head of the household. * Consider possible conflicts with the home cultural beliefs and values of some minority groups. For instance, parent training programs that emphasize empowering the child to make choices and be ultimately responsible for consequences may not be considered appropriate by parents from some culturally diverse groups such as Hispanic American and Asian American. * Consider alternative approaches to parent training. For example, parent training models that are based on a group counseling and support model as opposed to a teaching model may be more appropriate because they allow families to share experiences within their own cultural context. In addition, this model supports the collective orientation of most culturally diverse groups. CONCLUSIONS Cultural variables have a significant influence on children’s overt social behaviors. The Anglo American educational system often mistakenly expects students to adapt to and adopt mainstream-based behaviors. However, awareness of cultural influences on social behaviors may enable educators to determine whether the apparent social deficits are in fact deficiencies rather than differences and, therefore, design more appropriate interventions. When working with culturally diverse parents, professionals must also reflect on their own cultural expectations to identify possible incongruences. Appropriate intervention for children and families must be based on maintaining cultural behaviors while assisting in the development of skills to function successfully in the mainstream culture. Added material ABOUT THE AUTHORS Bernadette Delgado Rivera, PhD, is an assistant professor of school psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her current areas of research include social skills training with culturally and linguistically diverse children, assessment practices with potentially English-proficient children, and academic achievement of culturally diverse children. Diana Rogers-Adkinson, PhD, is an assistant professor of special education at Wichita State University. Dr. Rogers-Adkinson’s scholarly work includes studies on the language ability of children with behavior disorders, cultural implications in social skills intervention, and cultural interpretation of deviant behavior of children with emotional/behavioral disorders. Address: Bernadette Delgado Rivera, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0345. Table 1. Cultural Influences on Social Behaviors Social Hispanic African behavior American American Behavioral and restraint of feelings, high-context, rely on emotional particularly anger nonverbals expressiveness and frustration Verbal limited verbal affective, emotional, expressiveness expressions toward interpersonal authority figures Nonverbal preference for closer preference for closer expressiveness personal space personal space avoidance of eye importance placed contact when on nonverbal listening or behavior BERNADETTE DELGADO RIVERA AND DIANA ROGERS-ADKINSON: Culturally Sensitive 6 speaking to authority figures Family orientation deference and respect for elderly respect strongly emphasized, but emphasized taught not to patriarchal family trust all authority structure unquestioningly pronounced extended kinship and extended family systems family bonds authoritarian childrearing practices Concept of time present time oriented more to perspective situation than time relaxed about time, punctuality immediate short-term concrete, tangible, goals immediate goals Social orientation collective, group sense of “peoplehood” identity interdependence collective cooperative rather than competitive emphasis on interpersonal relations Philosophy spiritual/magical belief religious, spiritual orientation orientation conformity Control over resides outside the control is external environment individual Social Asian Native behavior American American Behavioral and control of emotions and introverted emotional feelings, self-effacing, expressiveness modest Verbal formal indirect gaze when expressiveness one-way communication listening or from authority figure speaking to individual Nonverbal preference for distance preference for closer expressiveness between speaker and personal space listener Family orientation family is primary unit obedience and respect family solidarity, responsi- for elders, experts, bility, and harmony and those with dependence on family is spiritual powers fostered is strongly one-way communication with emphasized authority figures emphasis on family strong deference and respect responsibility emphasized supportive nonfamily or loyalty to authority other helpers are incorporated into family network development of inde- BERNADETTE DELGADO RIVERA AND DIANA ROGERS-ADKINSON: Culturally Sensitive 7 pendence and autonomy emphasized Concept of time tradition, living with the past time and place viewed as permanent, settled immediate short-term goals immediate short-term goals Social orientation mutual interdependence group centered collective responsibility cooperative rather than cooperative rather than competitive competitive Philosophy spiritualism, detachment spiritualism, seeks harmony conformity Control over fatalism harmony with the environment environment Table 2. Social Behavior Expectations for Children From Culturally Diverse Backgrounds Behavior Hispanic African Asian Native expectation American American American American Social behavior displays proper proud of self behavior reflects and self-disciplined, demeanor brings pride to group generous to others Problem-solving avoids conflict, assertive and persistent nonconfrontational, good-natured--avoids style passive reconciliatory aggression/ confrontation Interpersonal cooperative, sharing guarded in sharing per- conforming, cooperative passive--seeks harmony relationships sonal information with others REFERENCES Cartledge, G., & Milburn, J. F. (Eds.). (1995). Teaching social skills to children and youth. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Elliot, S. N., Racine, C. N., & Bruce, R. T. (1995). Best practices in preschool social skills training. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology III (pp. 1009-1020). Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists. Ford, L., Rivera, B. D., & Ochoa, S. H. (1996). Providing services to culturally and linguistically diverse young children: Special education training and practice. Manuscript submitted for publication. Gresham, F. M. (1995). Best practices in social skills training. In A. Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology III (pp. 1021-1047). Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists. Gresham, F. M., & Nagle, R. J. (1980). Social skills training with children: Responsiveness to modeling and coaching as a function of peer orientation. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 48(6), 718-729. Hamayan, E. V., & Damico, J. S. (1990). Limiting bias in the assessment of bilingual students. Austin, TX: PRO-ED. Harry, B. (1994). Behavioral disorders in the context of families. In R. L. Peterson & S. Ishii-Jordan (Eds.), Multicultural issues in the education of students with behavioral disorders (pp. 149-161). Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books. Harwood, R. L., Miller, J. G., & Irizarry, N. L. (1995). Culture and attachment: Perceptions of the child in context. New York: Guilford Press. Holliday, B. G. (1989). Trailblazers in Black adolescent research: The American Council on Education’s studies on Negro youth personality development. In R. L. Jones (Ed.), Black adolescents (pp. 29-48). Berkeley, CA: Cobb and Henry. BERNADETTE DELGADO RIVERA AND DIANA ROGERS-ADKINSON: Culturally Sensitive 8 Leung, E. K. (1990). Early risks: Transition from culturally/linguistically diverse homes to formal schooling. Journal of Educational Issues of Language Minority Students, 7, 35-51. Lynch, M. J., & Hanson, E. W. (1992). (Eds.). Developing cross cultural competence: A guide for working with young children and their families. Baltimore: Brookes. McFall, R. (1982). A review and reformation of the concept of social skills. Behavioral Assessment, 4, 1-33. Ochoa, S. H., Rivera, B. D., & Ford, L. (in press). An investigation of school psychology training pertaining to bilingual psychoeducational assessment of primarily Hispanic students: Twenty-five years after Diana v. California. Journal of School Psychology. Rivera, B. D. (1995). Low socioeconomic status Mexican American parents’ perceptions of factors that influence their children’s development: An ethnographic study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University, College Station. Seymour, H., Champion, T., & Jackson, J. (1995). The language of African American learners: Effective assessment and instruction programming for children with special needs. In B. Ford, F. Obiakor, & J. Patton (Eds.), Effective education of African American learners: New perspectives (pp. 89-122). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.
Pages to are hidden for
"TITLE Culturally Sensitive Interventions Social Skills Training with"Please download to view full document