Term Paper: Building Adolescent Social Intelligence

Pages: 10 (3697 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Children  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Making friends as a result of planning and having a dance will have a positive effect upon the adolescents' behavior and performance personally and academically. This is another way that having a dance for the students is a strong idea.

Participation in the dance for the students primarily means talking and dancing with each other individually and in groups of various sizes. Ideally, the talking, chatting, and mingling about will mean that some of the students become friends. Making a friend is an expression of acquired social skills. Maintaining a friendship reflects a different order of skills and development. The party is a prime opportunity for students to make friends and making friends is another significant aspect of human development with respect to social intelligence and social skills.

To have a friend presupposes that one has the social skills to make and keep that friend. For most adolescents, the rudiments of those skills are in place, and peer groups and friendships allow them to further hone those skills. For a small subset of adolescents, however, this is not the case. These adolescents may be rejected by their peers, and this rejection can have serious negative effects, such as delinquency, drug abuse, dropping out of school, and aggression (Asher & Coie, 1990). For adolescents who lack social skills, adults who informally coach them in the appropriate skill areas can be lifesavers. Discussions about how to initiate conversations with peers, give genuine compliments, be a good listener, share private information appropriately, and keep confidences can go a long way toward enhancing social skills. (APA, 2002,-Page 26)

Research study after research study, decade after decade clearly shows that socialization and social activities lead to making friends. Friends are so important to people in general and are specifically important to adolescents for the reasons listed above and more. Friends can offer comfort in the scary, exciting, and tumultuous stage that is adolescence. Friendships build cognitive skills and social intelligence. There is an array of skills necessary to maintain a friendship that kids will not likely understand immediately as skills. Nonetheless, they are there and present within each of their friendships. Dances, parties, and social events are more chances for kids to make friends. The more chances kids have to make friends, the more chances they have to circulate, meet new people, and eventually start a friendship. One strong friendship in the life of every adolescent could potentially be a lifesaver. It is not until the last two decades that researchers have taken on the subject of friendships with respect to human & adolescent development. In that time, many great strides and conclusions regarding the importance of social activities and friends.

Considerable evidence now tells us that "being liked" by other children…supports good developmental outcome; conversely, "being disliked"…is a risk factor…On the too-rare occasions in which friendships are taken into account developmentally -- either in diagnosis of research children are differentiated merely according to whether or not they have friends. This emphasis on having friends is based on two assumptions: First, making and keeping friends requires good reality-testing and social skills; "having friends" is thus a proxy for "being socially skilled." Second, friendships are believed to be developmental wellsprings in the sense that children must suspend egoism, embrace egalitarian attitudes, and deal with conflict effectively in order to maintain them…having friends is thought to bode well for the future. (Hardup, 1996,-Page 2 -- 3)

The dance will provide an opportunity for adolescent involvement. This involvement will likely affect the high school students positive with regard to their academics and with regard to their health. Healthy, age-appropriate social interaction influences adolescent health in a good way. They have the opportunity to make and have fun with friends, which contributes to confidence, positive outlook, and ability to handle changes. The dance, as it is an chance for adolescent involvement in school, provides an opportunity for the students to connect to their schools in more personal ways. These connections to each other and their schools push adolescent development and health in good directions.

Adolescents' relationship to school also appears to influence their health-related behavior. Academic achievement and involvement in school-related activities are two ways of measuring adolescents' engagement with school. Research consistently finds that adolescents with poor academic skills and low grades are more likely to engage in health-compromising behaviors… (Roth et al., 2000,-Page 10)

Therefore, successful planning and execution of a dance for the high school students will improve their achievement in most, if not all, aspects of their lives. Students who are borderline or overall poor achievers will show improvement in their social skills and academic performance. Students in special education will feel more accomplished. They will feel connected to their peers in new ways, which is very important for their development because often students in special education are socially and physically isolated from general education students. The student involvement in the dance will also improve physical and mental health. It takes some physical labor to prepare for the dance, so that is a way they will be active. Their mental health will at least improve a little because the dance is something to look forward to and something about which they can be excited.

All of the relationships that an adolescent has are important to their development and social intelligence. This is why it is critical that many different people participate in the dance. There are some responsibilities of planning the dance that can be delegated to the adolescents. Clearly some of the responsibilities must be carried out by adults, but it is important that if the party is to be more than just a leisure activity, and a social learning experience, that they be involved. The involvement of parents is beneficial because they can provide safe supervision during the planning and during the party. The first relationship models that adolescents have are the ones in the home. An intersection of familial involvement and adolescent involvement make the dance/party educational and helpful, often without the students' knowledge. Other adults such as educational professionals and staff that are involved can help facilitate the construction and practice of social skills. Some students have some natural social ability and some do not. Adult presence at the dance will help the students who are socially intelligence as well as the ones who lack social intelligence.

Professionals who come in contact with youth with more significant deficits in social skills should take the time to find ongoing professional help for these adolescents. Youth who lack social skills who also develop aggressive behaviors are likely to need professional help to eliminate their aggressive and disruptive behavior (Coie & Dodge, 1998). However, youths who lack social skills but who do not exhibit behavior problems need help as much as the youths who are acting out in antisocial ways, such as by getting into fights or having problems in school. (APA, 2002,-Page 26)

Adult and adolescent involvement in the party during the planning and participation stages can help the adolescents practice healthy behavior. The most important aspect of the party for the adolescents is the development of social skills and social intelligence. Adequate social intelligence helps prevent and diminish maladaptive and potentially destructive behaviors.

When there is adults and teen involvement in the dance, the dance becomes an intersection of the many social relationships of the students. This overlaps of relationships in a positive and safe environment contributes to healthy adolescent development. For students who may be nervous about their lack of friends or social skills, the presence of a parent, neighbor, or trusted staff can help soothe and ease anxieties. Many adolescents, socially skilled or not, have some level of anxiety or tension with respect to socializing with others. The teenage ego is fragile, in-flux, and highly impressionable. It is important for kids to perceived that they are liked. When they see at the dance there are adults who they know like them, their presence may relax them enough to socialize more and have some fun.

An important aspect of socialization is the acquisition of social meaning and behavior from experiences with families, schools, peers groups, work settings, and the mass media…Recently, newer approaches have been developed emphasizing the importance of particular "interconnections" among social institutions for the social development youth…Emphasis has been placed on the idea that youth develop their conceptions of social reality from concurrent experiences in a variety of contexts. Social reality, in this case, refers to the meanings, values, attitudes, norms, and roles that form the basis for social interactions. (1983,-Page 67)

The quote above shows another way in which the dance will help the students acquire social skills and help them understand social reality. Understanding social reality is key to socialization in all forms, including making friendships. Adolescents who do not understand how to read and interpret body language, norms, and various kinds of social roles, will not navigate any social environment well. As stated throughout the papers, adolescents who do no have… [END OF PREVIEW]

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