Most people realise that being successful in life personally and professionally requires social skills. Think about the successful people you know, they are generally self aware and know how to understand and work effectively with others. Social skills are required to succeed in friendships, school life, community life and eventually working life.
Recently our headlines have been full of the news that the UK has the worst-behaved teenagers in Europe, other experts tell us that our children’s social skills are declining due to the growing role of technology in our children’s lives and the corresponding reduction in their social interactions.
So how do we as parents teach our children the social skills they need to prepare them for life? Here are 4 tips to get you started.
- Children learn by what they see you do, not what you say they should do. Be a model of good social skills for your child. Use every chance you can to show how you try hard to understand others, for example. You could do that by demonstrating how you think about another persons feelings, how you try to “step into their shoes” to better understand how the world looks from their perspective, how you think carefully about how you say something to someone and try to anticipate how they will “hear” it first, before you say it.
- Explain to your child, as you demonstrate these skills, how and why you are doing it. Ask them how they could do it better.
- When your child mentions a disagreement with another child, take the time to discuss it together. Take the “side” of the other child and help your child see the different perspectives and the possible reasons why the other child acted as they did. Encourage your child to tell you what they would like to say to the other child, discuss with them how you would feel if you heard that. When your child is ready, encourage them to go back and discuss the matter with the other child and try to resolve it themselves.
- Praise your child highly when they get it right. Children learn much more effectively from praise and recognition, in contrast to punishment and reproach.
If you would like more opportunities for your child to learn socials skills, and have opportunities to play and communicate with other children, then look into MindLab, an education programme that teaches children thinking and social skills through playing exciting board games from around the world. Contact MindLab to find out about local classes, or for information about bringing this exciting educational programme to your area.
Managing Director, MindLab Europe