Raising little humans is difficult business. I never realized how much responsibility goes into every aspect of parenting a child. They soak up everything you do and say. Now that I have three small children, it’s more important than ever to lead by example. Here are seven valuable social skills that all kids should know and the best way to teach them is by example.
7 Social Skills You Should Teach Your Kids by Example
1. How to initiate a conversation
From the moment they utter their first words, children begin learning the importance of conversation. They learn how to wave and say hello, but the most valuable lessons in conversation they’ll learn from you.
Kids watch how we interact with others. The way you greet the store clerk and strike up a conversation teaches your child a lot about how to interact with all kinds of people. They note the way you treat people and if you want your child to be a kind, courteous person, pay close attention to how you initiate conversations with those around you.
2. How to ask for help.
It’s not always easy asking for help, but doing so is a skill that kids are going to need often in life. Whether it’s asking for directions from a stranger or for assistance from a friend, make sure you are open about asking for help when help is needed. Kids need to be ready to ask for help if they are lost, don’t understand a concept in school, or are in over their heads.
3. How to be courteous.
Courtesy is one of the most commonly expected values…perhaps that’s why it’s called common courtesy. Please and thank you should be words children first learn when they are young, but it’s a parent’s consistent example that cements the value of courtesy in them. Open the door for a stranger, allow someone else to go ahead of you in line, keep your cool in traffic. These are all things kids notice us doing. It’s a good reminder to brush up on our common courtesy.
4. To appropriately share their opinions.
Thankfully gone are the days where children were expected to be seen and not heard. Today’s kids are bright and creative and have interesting opinions of their own. Sometimes it’s appropriate to speak out and other times it’s better to keep our thoughts to ourselves. Having conversations with our kids is a good way to teach the difference between the two, but perhaps an even better way is through example.
It’s good for adults to remember the Bambi principal: if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
5. Stand up for what’s right.
There is a lot of garbage out there that today’s kids will encounter. Drugs, pornography, bullying…our children have a lot to contend with and that means it will be vital for them to stand up for what they believe is right.
For parents, teaching this by example means turning off the TV when there’s something morally offensive on. It means speaking up when you see a child being bullied on a playground. Some of the most powerful lessons I learned from my parents were when they openly stood up for what they believed.
6. Show gratitude.
A simple thank-you can go a long way. Gratitude is a value that is going, going, gone these days. Entitlement is taking over, leaving kids who are bratty, spoiled, and selfish. Nip entitlement in the bud in your family by showing gratitude multiple times daily. At home, thank your spouse for a job they’ve done, tell your kids how grateful you are they are in your family. Verbally express gratitude for the things you have and the people around you.
7. How and when to apologize.
It’s crazy, but two of the hardest words for my kids to say to each other are I’m sorry. They scrunch up their faces and clutch their stomachs like those two words are physically excruciating to them. I hope I’m not the only parent who goes through this. I decided that this needed to change and since they are young, the easiest way for me to teach them to apologize is to show them. Now I really try to make a conscious effort to say I’m sorry whenever the situation warrants it. I apologize to them, to my husband, and to total strangers, making sure to explain why I am apologizing.
“Oh, I’m so sorry. I accidentally stepped on your foot. Are you okay?”
“I’m sorry, I thought I understood what you said but I must not have. Will you explain it again?”
Kids who know and show these seven important social skills will become adults who do the same, and that’s always a good thing.