Learning to relate to others involves engaging
in the give and take of relationships. For example, friends in
a group may not initially agree on the movie they will see or
the game they will play. Students interacting in an activity may
need to share supplies, take turns, etc. Reciprocal behaviors
enable individuals to work out these types of situations, to maintain
positive relationships, and to succeed socially.
Here are some strategies to help students
develop their ability to engage in reciprocal behaviors.
- Reduce the emphasis on competition in the
classroom. Provide opportunities for sharing and cooperative
work (e.g., making a mural or bulletin board together). Encourage
students to share materials and work cooperatively so that reciprocal
interactions can take place.
- Provide special class activities at the end
of the day as rewards for engaging in "reciprocal behaviors"
(e.g., taking turns appropriately throughout the day).
- Help students establish short and long-term
goals related to increasing the number of positive interactions
with peers. For example, a contract may be drawn up in which
a student agrees to increase the percentage of times that he
shares materials in activities, takes turns in games, etc.
- Enhance the likelihood that a student's interactions
with a peer or peer group will be positive by setting up structured
or guided opportunities in the classroom. For example, organize
a small group activity that focuses on the student's area of
interest, in which each member participates together in the
completion of the activity.
- Give students time to reflect on actions taken
and alternatives not taken in an interaction, e.g., what could
have been said, shared, etc.