Developing good social skills are a matter of habit and opens doors to success.
Of course I want my children to succeed. I am not talking about a superficial definition of success. In my book, success is not money. Not fame. Not possessions. Not being “Top Dog”. Success is fulfilling a God-given dream and passion to serve others and make a difference in the lives of others.
And whether my child wants to be a computer programmer , missionary, restaurant manager, history teacher, science teacher, web designer, police officer, public servant, car mechanic, business entrepreneur, sales person, or an otter doctor, (These are my children’s aspirations and vocations. The last one is my five year old granddaughter’s personal dream) there is a skill set, that if not mastered can hold each of them back from realizing those dreams. The skill set I am talking about is social skills.
Social. skills. matter.
I politely smile when the “social skill” card is negatively played during a conversation about home education. It just does not hold up as a legit argument. There are many well written articles debunking that myth. However, I truly don’t see this as a homeschool issue but a generational issue. With that said, the wise parent addresses “social education” with the same tenacity as academic planning. Good social skills will open opportunities for our children, and poor social skills will limit opportunity, no matter how academically prepared they are!
Here are the top 5 Social Skill Sets!
1.Manners Do Matter:
- Hygiene-Bathed, teeth brushed, hair combed, and neatly dressed.
- Table Manners- Good table manners make eating with others pleasant.
- Meet and Greet- Make eye contact, extend a hand for a handshake, and give a proper greeting. Use lots of “please”s and “thank you”s.
2. Respect Gets Respect:
- Listen intently- Teach active listening skills. Most communication problems arise from not listening. Practice listening more than talking in a conversation. Don’t interrupt.
- Communicate with truth and kindness- Always tell the truth but do it with kindness. Lies are never to be tolerated. Use PIP (Praise-Input-Praise) to correct or give input.
- Be on time-Value other people’s time. Time is a gift that can’t be bought or traded. Our family learned from another teacher this saying, “Early is on time, on-time is late, and late is rude.”
3. Service Above Self:
- Work Hard and Work for God- Give 110 percent even when no one is looking!
- Team player-Follow the Team Rules. No one enjoys being around someone who is always challenging or breaking rules that help a team or family function.
- Keep your word-Do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it.
- Manage anger-Uncontrolled anger does so much damage.
- Fail with grace- A poor sport is not fun to be around.
- Extend grace to others-Forgiveness frees relationships. A bitter soul is a lonely soul.
5. Social Media Etiquette:
- The person in front of you gets priority, not the phone or the text, or the social media alert ring.
- Don’t do conflict on social media-Conflict is to be done face-to-face and not over cyberspace.
- Think before you post-Internet info follows you the rest of your life. Don’t post unless you are willing to say it directly to the person.
It really behooves us to help our kids develop and model for them good social skills!
Developing good social skills are a matter of habit.
Charlotte Mason (famed educator of the 1800’s) says it well…..
“Whether habits are planned and created conscientiously, or allowed to be haphazardly filled in by chance, they are habits all the same. Habit rules ninety-nine percent of everything we do.”
“It takes a few weeks of work to build a new habit. Once the habit is in place, it must be guarded diligently to prevent a reversion to the old ways, but keeping watch is not stressful or difficult once the new habit is secure.”
Years ago, my friend Teresa gave me the best advice about habit training that I still use today. She candidly told me to only pick three “habits-in-training” at a time. She knew my tendency to go “wide open” with new ideas so she stressed valuing progress over perfectionism. She also encouraged me to be creative in my training approach.
So my husband and I developed a yearly habit of setting “social goals” for our kids. At the beginning of the school year, we choose three social “habits-in training” that become our family’s focus. During the year, the three goals are the subjects for reports, discussions at the table, and even some hilarious role playing. We have the children perform “social experiments”. For example, the challenge would be to greet an adult with a handshake, make eye contact, and offer a smile and then record the results. We would also research about table manners or other social topics to see what others say.
Good social habits will serve our children well.
Let’s let Charlotte get the last word on why we need to spend time developing good habits.
“One last word about habit–the point of training children to have good habits is so that they’ll do things without being nagged or scolded. Then the mother isn’t constantly chasing them down with a barrage of commands and reminders. She can leave them alone to thrive in their own way once habit has secured a boundary for them to grow in.” -Charlotte Mason
Amen Charlotte! I couldn’t have said it any better!
From Our Home to Yours,