All parents want their children to display adequate social skills so they can function and succeed in life. Unfortunately, many children do not possess such skills. Parents are busy and don't always realize there is a deficiency until they're thrust into an embarrassing social situation.
These skills can be taught and mastered. If you've observed some less-than-fabulous behavior from your children, do not despair. You can start today to course-correct and point your kids in the right direction where social skills are concerned. Help your children master social skills in the following three areas.
Kids need to have a thorough understanding of manners like holding the door for others, proper etiquette, saying "please" and "thank you," meal-time manners, and social media etiquette. These manners are developed through practice during face-to-face interactions with others.
Parents who model these skills find it easier to teach these skills. Kids learn by watching what you do, so practice good manners yourself. Your kids will pick up on what you're doing. Take it a step further by talking with your kids specifically about manners. Praise them when they do well, and encourage them to improve when they don't. It's important to keep the conversation about manners going. Learning these skills is a journey that takes time and corrective input from parents.
Everyone should be able to meet someone new and keep the ball rolling during a conversation. Teach your kids to make direct eye contact, shake hands, speak audibly and clearly, and ask questions of the other person to keep the conversation going. Whether your kids are shy or outgoing, everyone needs these skills. Everyone can learn and implement them.
The easiest way to teach these skills is to put kids in situations where they can develop these skills. When you attend a barbecue, a church gathering, or a reunion, encourage and challenge your kids to introduce themselves and have conversations. Praise them for stepping out of their comfort zones, and afterward discuss ways to improve.
It seems counterintuitive in this day and age to think that anyone would lack phone skills. We're on our phones all the time, but mostly through text. For kids, verbal communication occurs less frequently. Phone etiquette like how to answer the phone, take a detailed message, be polite, and how to end the call properly must be taught and learned.
Teach your kids that when they make a call, they should say this:
"Hello. This is ___________. May I please speak to __________?"
Teach your child to always state his/her name before asking for the other person. Teach kids not to mumble while on the phone, and show them your preferred way to take a message. Make sure they know they should write down the caller's phone number along with the message. Even though we use text communication more than verbal communication these days, phone etiquette is still essential and must be taught. They will need these skills when dating and in their careers.
Your children will learn from your example. Be sure that the example you're setting is the one you want them to learn from. None of this is complicated, but much of it is overlooked in modern times. That doesn't mean it's less important, however. Good manners and basic social skills will never go out of style, so take the time to teach your kids. They need you.
By Ryan Sharpe
I was The Mayor.
Not officially, of course.
But during my college hockey career, The Mayor became my nickname because I was known to take forever getting out of the rink after every game because I took my time shaking hands with fans and signing autographs for little kids.
I did it because I love people. I love interacting with them and learning about them. It makes me feel good to make someone else feel special or important.
So I became known as The Mayor.
Our son, Maguire, recently attended a robotics engineering camp at our college where I was once The Mayor.
On the second day, he texted Carrie to tell us how he had befriended the entire hockey team when he saw them in the cafeteria and how they were now asking to see his robot videos at each meal.
It's clear that my love of people has been passed on to Maguire. Of all the traits he could get from me, both good and bad, I'm glad he got this trait. It will serve him well. Befriending others, accepting them, and appreciating them is so very important.
Especially in the world we live in today.
Parents, take the time to teach your kids how to build relationships. Teach them to value others and to be a "good-finder." Teach them to put down their phones and have real-life, face-to-face interactions with other people. Teach them how to make friends and how to be a good friend. Teach them to get out of their comfort zone.
And we need to lead by example.
Mayor to Mayor.