Gossiping Program for Youth

Purpose of this Program

Gossiping about others is one of those things that everyone does but that most would define as an undesirable activity.  In truth, gossiping is a behavior that is key to learning a host of social skills including empathy.  In other words, the talking about, complaining about, wondering about others is part of the process by which we learn to understand how others think, how they feel and why they do what they do.  Children with social skills difficulties such as children with autism, shyness issues and ADHD are noteworthy for engaging very little in gossiping behavior.  Because of this, they are missing out on one of the key learning opportunities for understanding others.  This program is intended to help children with poor social skills improve their sense of others by a putting in place a structured gossiping activity.

Contracting with the Student

You can initiate the program with a child by meeting with them and explaining that talking about others is one way to understand them better.  You are going to help him by being his gossiping partner.

How the Program Works

  1. At a regular time once a day, you sit with the child and say “OK lets talk about this person”.  Try and chose a person that is in the child’s environment fairly often.  Ideally, it will be a person he/she has interacted with quite a bit.
  2. Start with identifying something that the subject of the gossiping has done of late that is interesting or surprising.  The child may generate the incident or you may generate it yourself.  Chose something that involves the subject of the gossiping interacting with others (playing with others, cooperating with others, having a disagreement with others etc.).  
  3. Start talking with the child and invite them to talk about why the subject child did what they did, how they felt and what you think the consequences will be.  This emphasis on emotion, intention (why they do what they do) and time (what will happen in the future) are the most important elements of gossiping.


Charles Emmrys PhD L. Psych. ©

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