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Dinosaur Social Skills Program

The Dinosaur Social Skills Program is for children aged 6 to 8 years and is offered in weekly two-hour group sessions over 15 weeks. The group serves children with significant difficulties in home, school and community settings. Groups are offered twice a year - starting in the autumn and starting in spring – and are run in the early evening in CAMH’s Child, Youth and Family Services. The goals of the program are to reduce aggression and behaviour problems and to increase social competence in children. 

Children learn how to communicate their feelings effectively, to manage conflict through problem-solving and to listen and follow through at home and school. The following is a list of curriculum topics with the approximate number of group sessions devoted to each:

  • School rules (1 session)
  • Understanding your own and other peoples’ feelings (1 to 3 sessions)
  • Doing your best in school (2 sessions)
  • Problem solving (5 to 6 sessions)
  • Controlling your anger (1 to 2 sessions)
  • Being friendly and working as a team member at home and at school (2 to 3 sessions)
  • Using friendly talk to communicate your ideas and feelings (1 to 3 sessions)

Each week the children are given a home activity to do with their parents. The subsequent week’s session begins with children showing and talking about their homework. The children are encouraged to talk about real-life examples and events where they have tried out their new skills. This serves as a review of the previous week’s new material and helps children consolidate new skills by reviewing practice and sharing experience. New skills are taught by using videotape vignettes, role-playing and group discussions. A token reward system where Dinosaur Chips are earned for appropriate behaviour is used; children can trade chips in at the end of the session for stickers and prizes.

The Dinosaur Social Skills Program has outcome research to indicate the following benefits of participation:

  • Reduced aggression and disruptive behaviour
  • Increased positive behaviour and social skills
  • Increased conflict- and problem-management skills
  • Increased self-esteem

Parents have an important role in their child’s success in Dinosaur Social Skills Program. The following are some examples of how to enhance your child’s success from participating:

  • Show a positive outlook on their participation in the group
  • Make time to help with the brief weekly homework. The purpose of this homework is to practice and reinforce the material covered in class
  • Keep group facilitators informed of important information or events that could be incorporated into the children’s group sessions
  • Read the companion book for parents: The Incredible Years: A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 3 – 8
  • Complete questionnaires at the beginning and end of the group; this helps the facilitators understand the effectiveness of the groups, and to make changes for future groups

For more information on the Dinosaur Social Skills Program, visit the website of the Program’s developer, The Incredible Years (www.incredibleyears.com).

Children can be enrolled in the Dinosaur Social Skills Program after an assessment has been completed by clinical staff and indicates the appropriateness of this treatment. Contact the CYFP Intake Office for more information on the groups and on the intake assessment process: 416–535–8501, extension 4366.

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