Examples of Skill-Building in Positive Supports

Using a Positive Social Strategies Framework

The visual on this page describes many of the features involved in creating a supportive environment. The Positive Social Strategies Framework includes four major areas that are addressed within an organization or community setting.

The following behaviors are important behaviors that help to foster positive interactions:

  • Active Listening – Provide signs to the person that shows you understand and are involved in the conversation
  • Paraphrasing What a Person Says – Rephrase what you heard to make sure you understand what a person is saying
  • Nonjudgmental Statements – Describe what you hear without offering your opinion or making statements that judge what is said
  • Encouraging People to Connect With Others – Bring people together in conversation using names and proximity if that is appropriate and help people to address each other in conversation
  • Working With People in Collaboration – Offer to assist in tasks, ask for a person’s assistance, and include people in conversations
  • Being Positive and Encouraging – Use language that is positive and assumes that a person can make their own decisions
  • Showing Empathy & Understanding – Show others that you appreciate their experience even if you haven’t had the same experiences

One way to assess a routine or setting is to set time aside to observe whether any of these behaviors are occurring. Visit the mnpsp.org website to download Direct Observation Tools and definitions to get started.

This Positive Social Strategies Self-Assessment Checklist PDF helps you think about areas you can improve on when interacting with others.

Universal person-centered practices tools can help guide people as they ask questions that help us understand what is important to a person and for a person’s health, wellness, and quality of life. Examples of various tools that can be used when talking with others include PDF : routines & rituals, history, hopes and fears, important places, important people, strengths and areas to work on, hobbies and interests, health and wellness, social strengths, what works/ doesn't work, barriers & opportunities, and important to and for.

An important part of every climate is our ability to celebrate diversity and become more aware of the ways in which culture impacts our behavior. In addition to the skills outlined in this module, it can be helpful to create an action plan for ongoing training, dialogue, and opportunities to reflect on progress and challenges that are encountered in creating equitable and inclusive settings. Examples of learning opportunities include:

  • Create ways to encourage sensitivity to the use of language and how subtle statements can be distancing and hurtful to others
  • Learn more about the land on which we live and work and the history of indigenous peoples
  • Explore the history of major social events, celebrations, tragedies, and natural disasters impacting different cultural groups in the area
  • Understand the different cultures present in a community by sharing information, food, and important dates
  • Gather data unique to the children and adults you work with as well as staff and families or caregivers to monitor equity of services and supports
  • Share videos, tools and other strategies in meetings, visits with others that convey important issues about cultural responsiveness
  • Celebrate examples that are observed of people showing empathy and understanding of cultural differences
  • Provide tips and strategies for people to use when they observe situations where people who do not represent the dominant culture experience implicit bias, racist comments so that they can better support people around them
  • Actively teach important concepts including how to interrupt implicit bias when we are tired or emotional, discuss historical trauma, and how to embed trauma-informed supports at a universal level

Visit the Empathy and Culture section of the Positive Social Strategies Page for more ideas.

Modeling, teaching, and encouraging coping strategies for managing stress and strong emotions is a universal strategy that can help create a positive climate and assist people in maintaining an optimal quality of life. Creating an action plan within organizational and family systems to improve health and wellness is an important step everyone can take to live longer and better lives.

The path we choose to manage stressful emotions needs be a good fit for our preferences, routines, and culture. Examples of steps taken on for action planning will take into account:

  • Assessing the resources available to support wellness activities
  • Creating opportunities to try different mindfulness, relaxation and other self-regulating activities can help us find the right approach for each person
  • Building in time to practice and reflect on personal growth
  • Sharing videos, tools and other strategies in meetings or during visits with families can help introduce key concepts and possible strategies
  • Celebrating and acknowledging efforts to grow and evolve can help us stay motivated as we try new skills

Visit the Mindfulness and Well-Being section of the Positive Social Strategies Page for more ideas.

The circle around each of the positive social strategies represents the organization as a whole or an entire family system. Action planning at this larger level considers how people interact together and the strategies that can be used to support groups of people who are working together to create a positive climate. The following examples of organizational level action planning include conflict resolution, assessing and supporting different personality types, improving problem solving, and conducting a community assessment.

Conflict resolution

Teaching conflict resolution is a way to prevent the escalation of challenging behavior between one or more people and involves a variety of skills that can help people navigate disagreements that come up in life. Examples of conflict resolution skills include the following:

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  • Suspending one’s judgement or opinion about an issue instead of arguing about being “right”
  • Listening to the other person before expressing your own reasons for disagreement
  • Paying attention to the other’s verbal and nonverbal cues that show someone’s emotions
  • Focusing on the current situation rather than bringing up a list of past problems
  • Staying calm and being aware of one’s own emotions
  • Looking for ways for creating a successful outcome that includes ideas from different positions
  • Here is a conflict resolution checklist that can assist in tracking your response to a conflict.

This Conflict Resolution Self-Assessment Checklist PDF can be used to reflect on interactions, look for strengths, and identify areas you will work on in the future.

Assessing Personalities and Matching Interests

Sometimes matching staff with children and adults with similar interests can help promote positive relationships. When it is impossible to match people with similar interests and compatible personality types, it can be helpful to teach people to be aware of the differences between people and offer ideas for promoting positive relationships.

Effective Group Problem Solving

Most of us have learned the key elements of effective meetings. We know there are ways to improve our meetings but we don’t always practice these skills. Practicing the following elements of successful meeting behaviors helps create a positive climate:

  • Schedule regular team meetings
  • Recruit a staff member to facilitate the meeting
  • Create an agenda that outlines what will be discussed
  • Ask one team member to be a time-keeper to help the team cover all the topics listed on the agenda
  • Make sure meeting minutes are recorded
  • Keep a file that stores the agenda and meeting minutes
  • Work together to set guiding values for each meeting
  • Create clearly defined roles for people on the team

Community Assessment and Mapping

The last example of action planning related to organizational and family systems is to work on a community assessment. Understanding local resources can be a really helpful way to build a positive climate. A community assessment can help organizations and families build natural supports for children and adults and create natural ways to include people in meaningful ways in their community. The Module 3 Resources Page includes free information and tools for community assessment.

Visit Module 3 Resource Page and the Positive Social Strategies Page for free tips and tools that you can use implementing an action plan at the organizational and family systems level.

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An assessment of the supportive features of a setting is used as part of an action plan that can include:

  • Policy and procedural changes
  • Development of training materials
  • Strategies for coaches
  • Data based decision making
  • Systems change

The Positive Social Strategies Page provides tools, videos, and other resources that can be used in staff meetings and trainings.