Social competence and social skills training for children and adolescents: a literature review Academic Article uri icon


  • The concept of child and adolescent social competence is complex and multidimensional. Dodge (1985) has attempted to summarise various aspects of the concept into a parsimonious theoretical model. It is suggested that comprehensive assessment of social competence includes measures tapping into a range of dimensions illustrated by the model. A growing body of empirical data links children's low levels of social competence to various forms of maladjustment in adolescence and adulthood. Clinical and educational interventions directed at improving child and adolescent social competence offer a valuable direction for a preventative approach that should be considered and empirically evaluated. Available social skills interventions emerge from three major theoretical foundations: Behavioural, Cognitive Problem Solving, and Structuralist. Populations targeted for intervention also vary from children or adolescents with identified problems in clinical settings, to whole school educational approaches. Empirical comparison of alternative training approaches has demonstrated that social skills training is effective, and a combination of behavioural and cognitive components is important. Issues regarding child characteristics, outcome measures and consideration of wider systems are also discussed.

publication date

  • May 1996