Jan 16, 2013

Interpersonal Skills Program


The Interpersonal
Skills Program was developed to teach interpersonal problem-solving skills to
preschool aged children. This program teaches children skills for
problem identification, the generation of alternative, and the evaluation of
consequences in order to improve their social interactions and social
development. The studies below found that the The Interpersonal Skills
Program was effective in increasing the number of alternative solutions
children could generate to solve a social problem. The program was also
effective in increasing the amount of “relevant talk” during social
interactions, meaning children were focused on the problems and their


Target population: Preschool children

This program uses a series of interactive activities to
teach children social skills for interpersonal problem solving. Sessions
usually last 15-20 minutes and take place four days a week during a 10-week
period. Teachers use puppets to teach and model an interpersonal skill, then
children are asked questions about the puppet’s behaviors, and finally
children role play a similar problem situation to practice that skill. The
program consists of 6 main components: pinpointing the problem, perspective
taking and empathy, generating alternative solutions, predicting outcomes of
potential solutions, selecting the best alternative solutions, and
implementing the best solution. The program also teaches cue sensitivity to
verbal, nonverbal, and environmental signals. By learning these skills,
children are better prepared to negotiate complex social situations.


Vaughn, S. R. & Ridley, C. A. (1984). Interpersonal
problem-solving skills training with aggressive young children. Journal of
Applied Developmental Psychology, 5,

Evaluated Population:25 aggressive preschool
children (Mean age = 5.25 years) from two community pre-schools that were
located in a middle-class area in the southwest. Children were identified as
“aggressive” by their scores on the Hahnemann Pre-School Behavior Rating Scale
(HPSB) scale according to teachers’ ratings on their behaviors. The study
included 19 boys and 6 girls.

Approach:Children were randomly assigned to the
interpersonal skills training condition or the control condition. Both
experimental and control group children were then removed from their classroom
5 days a week for 20 minutes per session. The sessions lasted for 10 weeks
yielding a total of 50 sessions and were conducted by a trained leader.
During experimental sessions, children watched a skit with puppets modeling
social situations. To talk about and practice the skill that was demonstrated
in the puppet show, a short discussion was followed by student role play of a
social situation. During control sessions, puppets were used to tell a story,
and children were encouraged to interact with the puppets, the training
leader, and their peers, but none of the interpersonal problem-solving lessons
taught to the control group were used. A trained graduate student
administered the Behavioral Interpersonal Problem Solving Test (BIPS) to all
children at pre-test, post-test, and at the 3 month follow-up.

Results:Children in the skills training program
generated more solutions to interpersonal problems than children in control
groups. At post-test, children in the skills training program were less
likely to engage in “irrelevant talk,” meaning they were likely to respond to
the problem-solving task with appropriate responses, requests for more
information about the problem, or requests for additional time to think about
the problem. Additionally, the skills training children gave 150% more
cooperative responses and 300% more persuasive responses when solving a
problem than the control group at post-test. At the 3-month follow-up
assessment, children in the experimental skills training condition were still
able to generate significantly more solutions to social problems when compared
with control groups. There were no significant effects for gender. A
limitation of this study is the very small sample size.



Ridley, C. A. & Vaughn, S. R. (1982). Interpersonal
problem solving: An intervention program for preschool children. Journal
of Applied Developmental Psychology, 3,

Vaughn, S. R. & Ridley, C. A. (1984). Interpersonal
problem-solving skills training with aggressive young children. Journal of
Applied Developmental Psychology, 5,

Program categorized in this guide according to the

Evaluated participant ages: 3-5 years / Program age
ranges in the Guide: early childhood

Program components: child care/early childhood education;

Measured outcomes: social and emotional health and
development; life skills

Program information last updated 2/20/07

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