Social skills are so very important for kids to learn as they grow. Not only does it allow for them to enjoy better peer relationships, it helps them thrive as they grow into highly functioning adults.
A recent study discovered that good social skills even have the power to reduce stress in children in daycare settings, revealing that learning them is important for their overall mental health.
Thankfully, social skills can be learned and strengthened with both effort and practice. The secret lies in our ability to do everything we can to help our kids thrive and be comfortable in their own skin.
In an effort to explore the topic of social skills, I've outlined what I think are the most important social skills we can help our children gain as they grow:
#1 - Kindness and Respect
To me, kindness and respect are the most important social skills we can teach our children. Nearly all other social skills are rolled up in our ability to show empathy to others and nurture them along the way.
In the process, we are willing to stand up for others — no matter what background they come from. It's about protecting the hearts and minds of friends and strangers alike.
Kindness and respect breed a healthy society and open doors to beautiful opportunities.
#2 - Using Manners
While the definition of manners can vary from family to family and person to person, being polite is a universal behavior. This includes making eye contact, shaking hands when appropriate, saying please and thank you, and kindly greeting others.
#3 - Following Directions
Children must learn to follow directions. It's an important skill that will help set them up for success in the future.
This means learning to listen as toddlers and taking all lessons learned into adolescence — and then adulthood. Starting off with simple, basic instructions is a good start. Then, make sure they follow through and are rewarded with positive enforcement.
#4 - Having a Positive Attitude
A positive attitude creates amazing vibes for everyone involved in most situations. When fostered inside, a positive attitude makes the world a place of opportunities and makes finding creative solutions easier.
When things get complicated, a positive attitude leads to inspiring others to accomplish the seemingly impossible as well.
#5 - Working Well with Others
It's important we teach our children to see others' perspectives. They need to be able to express their ideas, thoughts, and feelings in healthy ways. They need to learn to problem solve with others, kindly take turns, and be a good sport.
#6 - Understanding Boundaries
We need to teach our children self-control and what it means to have healthy boundaries. This means being able to disagree with others in the most respectful way possible, use proper social cues, and respect personal space.
There are no two children who are exactly the same. This isn't a secret, but sometimes I think we need to look at each child and deeply understand where they excel and where they need to improve.
I encourage you to take some notes. Be as real as possible. And then work with them on areas where they need your guidance. Do they need to learn to be kinder and more compassionate? Or are they having a hard time keeping healthy boundaries and understanding social cues?
Take inventory and do everything you can to help them improve. And when I say "help them" I really mean help from a place of pure love and gentle guidance.
Growing social skills takes time, courage, and confidence. So please guide them with care and let them know how special and worthy they are of having healthy connections with others.