“Is this a big problem or a little problem?” “That was an expected behavior!” “What is one thing your inner coach would say?”

Chances are, your child has heard these or similar phrases during their therapy sessions at CI. The Social Thinking Curriculum was developed by Michelle Garcia Winner to improve social thinking and related social skills. While therapists and some children commonly use these terms, they can sound like a foreign language when they are first introduced!

Because of our collaborative style, we use Social Thinking Curriculum not only in our social groups, but also as general CI “lingo.” This blog post is intended to provide an introduction to common vocabulary terms from the Social Thinking curriculum. Stay tuned for more detailed posts about various aspects of the curriculum in the future! The definitions provided here can be found in the book, You are a Social Detective! Explaining Social Thinking to Kids.

Expected Behavior
  • These are things we do and say that give people good thoughts about us and make them feel good too. Doing what is expected is different based on where we are and who we are with. For example, it is expected for a child to make a joke at recess but not while the class is taking a test.
Unexpected Behavior
  • These are things we do and say that give people uncomfortable (odd) thoughts about us and might make them feel mad or bad. Doing what is unexpected is different based on where we are and who we are with (different situations).
Big Problem
  • These are problems that many people share and that have no easy, quick, or pleasant solution. For example, tornados, car accidents and hurricanes are considered big problems.
Medium Problem
  • These are problems some people share that are able to be resolved in an hour to a couple of days. For example, forgetting your lunch, getting into an argument with a friend and having a lot of homework to do are considered medium problems.
Little Problem
  • These are problems that only affect one to two people and can be ignored or solved in a matter of minutes. For example, losing a game, being told no and not getting called on in class are considered little problems.
Inner Coach
  • This is used to describe positive thoughts. Examples of inner coach statements include “I got this” and “I can work hard.”
Inner Critic
  • This is used to describe negative, self-defeating thoughts such as “I’ll never get better at this.” We can replace inner critic statements with inner coach statements to change our mindset!

Try choosing one or two of these terms to incorporate at home with your child. Before you know it, you’ll be a fluent speaker of the Social Thinking vocabulary!

Written By: Nicole Nichols, M.A., CCC-SLP