Life Skills Program

Growing up isn’t an easy process for anyone. We search for ways to feel good about ourselves. We want to be liked by others. We need to learn how to talk to people and not seem like a total idiot. We struggle to find a way to overcome fears and master our anger so that we can live at peace with ourselves and the people around us. We want to find solutions to the conflicts and hassles of everyday life. We need to succeed in these efforts if we are to become confident, effective people.

Kids with ADHD struggle with the same kinds of issues. However, systematic research conducted over the past two decades reveals that these children are at a higher risk to develop significant behavioral and emotional control problems if they are not helped during their formative years. Among the types of treatments that are considered helpful are “social skills” groups like our Life Skills Program.

How do we teach “Life Skills”?

At our clinic, we offer online, webinar programs in which we teach essential life skills to children from the 4th grade through high school. We group children by age, with separate programs for 4th and 5th graders, middle school, and high school students. In each class, we describe the skills to be learned, show demonstrations of each life skill, and give students and their parent or guardian the chance to practice them at home. We also include a game activity for the families to play at home that centers on the theme of the lesson. A lot of our families will invite other families to join them at home so that their kids have the chance to practice skills with kids from their neighborhood, school, scout troop, church, or sports team,

The first eleven classes focus on developing core life skills. The remaining four sessions focus on developing compassion, kindness, and community involvement. The webinar format provides an opportunity for back and forth dialogue between Dr. Monastra and the class so that questions can be addressed before the end of each 75 minute class. The beginning of each class also provides an opportunity for families to talk about successes and difficulties they’ve experienced as they tried to apply the lessons from each previous week’s classes.

What will you and your child learn?

To give you an idea of what we teach in each class, here is a list of the “learning goals” for the program.

Class 1. Ya gotta eat, ya gotta sleep, and ya gotta get some exercise if you want to succeed in life.

In this class, we have some fun teaching children about the kinds of foods, the amount of sleep, and kinds of exercise that actually improves attention.

Class 2. Calm down! Breathe.

In this class we help kids make the connection between breathing and unpleasant emotional states (anger, anxiety, and sadness). We teach ways to using systematic breathing and other anger and anxiety reduction techniques to rapidly change these states and regain emotional control.

Class 3. Developing Confidence: Part 1: Facing Fears.

In this class we help children identify basic fears and recognize that overcoming fears (no matter how small) is an important component of building confidence.

Class 4. Developing Confidence: Part 2: Discovering the Interests of Others.

Many of our patients do not have the couple of friends needed to help take care of that need to feel that they are liked. These are the kids that they can spend time with during and after school. Having those couple of friends is also plays an important part in developing confidence. In this class, we begin to help kids learn how to discover the interests of others as an important step in making friendships.

Class 5. Developing Confidence: Part 3: Getting better at something that matters to others.

Once a child has an idea of what the interests of their classmates are, they can begin to consider what they’d like to get better at (or more knowledgeable about). In this class we teach children that people tend to develop friendships with other based on common interests or activities, and we encourage them to get better at those things that matter to kids they’d like to have as friends.

Class 6. Developing Confidence: Part 4: Even conversations can be fun!

A lot of our patients have no idea how to have a conversation. Some will go on and on without giving anyone else a chance to talk. Others really struggle to come up with anything to say. The fact is, we tend to seek people who are interested in us, who talk about things that we are interested in, and who do things that we like. In this class, we begin to work on the ability to learn how to have enjoyable conversations, using the information we’ve gotten in Class 4 and 5.

Class 7. Developing Confidence: Part 5: Entering the conversation zone.

In this class, we teach and practice entering situations where conversation is expected. This could be walking down the hallway in school, starting up a brief conversation at your locker, sitting in the classroom before the teacher begins instruction, sitting at a lunch table, or riding on the bus. Outside of school, this could be starting up a conversation during practice for a sports team, scouts, a church group, or other community group.

Class 8. Ignoring teasing will not make it go away.

In this class we discuss the causes of teasing and teach and practice strategies for responding to the most common ways that kids are teased in their school.

Class 9. Sometimes making faces can be a good idea.

A lot of children that we care for have difficulty looking at people when they talk. A lot of them have no idea what an “I care about you and what you’re saying” face looks like. In this class we teach and practice how to show an “I’m interested, I care about you” face.

Class 10. Getting what you want in life without getting into trouble.

In this class, we review the essentials of problems solving and teach children what to do when someone says “NO”.

Class 11. Organization not a four-letter word.

It takes mental energy to organize our time, possessions, and work-load. In this class, we teach children the basics of organization and help each child develop a system that works for them!

Class 12. Anyone can have a dream: Successful people make dreams come true.

This is the first of our community action classes. For most of our children, organization and planning are things that parents make you do for no good reason. In this class, we ask children to come up with a dream. Something that they wish they had. Something that they wish they could do. Then, we encourage parents and children to take on the challenges of making those “dreams” become a reality.

Class 13. Kindness is contagious!

It feels good to be kind. That’s simply how God made us. In this class, we help kids focus on what would make the members of their family feel appreciated and loved and apply this knowledge during the session and at home.

Class 14. Bringing kindness to school.

Schools can be a devastating, demoralizing place. In this class, we ask children to think about random acts of kindness that they could do at their school during the week and challenge them to do random acts of kindness every day.

Class 15. Bringing kindness to the community.

When we do this class at our clinic, the children begin to team up to identify some kind of community need. With other families in our class, they discover ways to bring kindness and hope to that part of their hometown. In our webinar program, families can take this idea to their community and work with others to make their hometown a kinder, more loving place to live.

Class 16. Wrap up session.

This is a great time for children and their families to talk about what they have accomplished during the past 15 weeks. This is a conversation shared with the other families who have been part of our webinar program and often leads to people finding ways to keep up connections that they have made during our class. If needed, additional sessions with our webinar “families” can be arranged.

How do I register for the Life Skills Program?

The easiest way for you to register is to visit our store. There you will be guided through the enrollment process. As part of your registration fee, you will be given access to the class worksheets which contain the exercises and skills that we will be teaching in each class. If you sign up for the program but are unable to attend any of the “live” webinar classes, you will be able to view recorded versions of the class at your convenience. You can also email our clinic between classes if you have any questions or concerns that need to be addressed before the next class. Our Assistant Director, Donna Monastra, LMSW, will also be available to you to answer questions that you may have. Phone: 607-785-0400.