Because of my father’s job as a consultant to big mining operations across the country I was the “New Girl” more often than any kid should truthfully be. It was incredibly tough making friends each time, and to really even connect with anyone; I would fumble around awkwardly as a loner for quite some time, only to have to move on to the next town shortly after finally finding my spot in the social network of the new school.
Imagine if socialising wasn’t a terrifying enigma, if kids and teens were armed with the skills to thrive in a social situation or more importantly, how to carry on when a social situation doesn’t go their way.
The Cognitive Coach, David Lorge, says that it is the apparent lack of social empathy among young children that has inspired the first Cognitive Kids Workshop – Social Skills.
Cognitive Kids is a group workshop teaching life skills and problem-solving techniques to children aged seven to 12. The aim of the workshops is to teach kids how to overcome and deal with many problems such as anger, bullying, divorce, and exam anxiety, to name just a few.
“I encounter social issues in my practice on a daily basis. I see problems such as poor social skills, social immaturity and a fear of social situations,” explains Lorge. “All issues stemming from a lack of empathy, an inability to read non-verbal cues as well as self-esteem and insecurity issues. Unfortunately, social problems like these can be directly related to many disorders and shortcomings of the modern child. I aim to empower children with the skills necessary to handle any social situation with confidence, comfort and ease.”
Lorge, who runs a thriving Cognitive Behavioural Coaching practice, says it is this desire to empower as many children as possible with the skills for self-acceptance and social confidence, amongst others, that first inspired the concept of Cognitive Kids. “Instead of seeing one child in an hour, I can help a dozen or more, and at a more accessible price.”
Michael Berkowitz, Lorge’s partner in Cognitive Kids, says the fact that he wishes he had access to a resource like this when he was young is what has him excited about this endeavour.
“It would have been a game-changer if someone sat nine-year-old me down to explain that developing social skills is a learning process, that it’s okay to not always get it right, and taught me what to do, what to look out for, and what to practice in social situations,” adds Berkowitz.
The beauty of the Social Skills Workshop is that it will actually arm the kids with actionable tools and techniques to help them thrive socially. “We don’t just discuss the ins-and-outs of socialising and appropriate behaviour, we do it in a fun, empowering and kid-friendly way,” adds Berkowitz.
The Cognitive Kids Social Skills Workshop will take place on Saturday 6 May in Melrose North, Johannesburg, and will focus on certain skills such as improving social appropriateness and tact, overcoming social fears, and techniques to become more likeable and charismatic.
The workshops will typically be aimed at children between the ages of seven and 12 with one workshop for seven-to-nine year olds and another for those aged 10 to 12.
In a scenario where I have been armed with the tools, as a young child, to be mindful and socially secure, it would have most likely been far easier to make friends and approach new groups in those first few weeks at a new school.
Not only would having those skills have made my high school career more bearable, it would have left me a stronger, even more secure individual. Something I definitely want for my child.