Improving the peer interactions and peer acceptance rate of children through the use of positive peer statements
Peer-rejected children have been identified as being at high risk for developing psychological and social problems, including school dropout, alcoholism, inability to hold employment, and failed marriages. The need to improve the social status of this population has prompted researchers to develop skill training programs aimed at remediating social-skill deficiencies. The results of these skills training programs show that the children are able to demonstrate the steps necessary to perform the target skills within the group training sessions. However, these programs have shown limited success in improving social ratings of these children. The current study examined the effects of positive peer statements on the quantity and quality of social interactions and on the sociometric status of peer-rejected children in a residential treatment facility. The most peer-rejected youth (two male and two female) in each of four therapeutic homes were selected as targets of this intervention. Mean peer ratings were obtained pre- and post-intervention. Peer interactions were measured by observing the youth during free time. An ABAB design was combined with a multiple-baseline design to control for internal validity. Results showed that positive peer interactions increased while the intervention was in place, and decreased when the positive peer reporting was discontinued. Additionally, there was an increase in peer acceptance in two of the four youth studied. These results are discussed and suggestions are made for future research.