Posted by Barbara Gilmour on January 13, 2017
Happy New Year! As we begin 2017, one important focus is to be on helping our children get along better with one another. Another important focus is to provide them with some tools to help them reject bullying. There are many things that you can do to encourage your kids to have GOOD MANNERS and SOCIAL SKILLS. These are now supported as the missing link in BULLYING PREVENTION, but to be effective teaching these skills start as young as possible.
1. The most important thing we can teach our kids is THE GOLDEN RULE. When they learn to "treat others the way they want to be treated," they begin to experience empathy and compassion for others. Too often we see children, and adults, practicing a different form of that rule, "treat others the way they treat you." Though there is a small difference in wording between the two, there is a huge difference in meaning and the resulting behavior.
2. When we teach our children to BE POLITE, we are preparing them for a lifetime of acceptance by others. This training starts (at a young age) with simple things, such as requiring them to say The Magic Words; "please," "thank-you," you're welcome," excuse me," and "I'm sorry." Other social skills that you want them to learn can be introduced as the child ages; keep your expectations age appropriate. Children want to do the right thing and please us, so offering encouragement when they do what you ask will encourage them to continue these new behaviors.
3. Prior to preschool, it's important to teach your children to TAKE TURNS, PLAY FAIR, AND SHARE. Kids who go into daycare and/or preschool without learning these skills are going to have a difficult time learning, getting along with other children, and being accepted. Research is now showing that preschool children who are given basic social skills training, in addition to letters and numbers, perform better and get along better throughout their school years.
4. Teaching children to LISTEN will help them at home, in school, and throughout life. You can train them early to stop what they are doing, look at you, and be silent while you speak to them. I'm recalling a former blog I wrote called, "The Power of 'NO'." In that blog I wrote about a time when a visiting child was ready to touch something that had the potential to topple over on him, and he didn't respond to my "NO." There are times when your child listening to your warning may be the difference between a life and death situation. The child who doesn't listen and can't take direction will have difficulty in daycare and school.
5. BE KIND AND USE KIND WORDS. Our children are going to do as we do, not as we say. The best way to teach this skill is to model it in your home. If your kids hear you gossiping, using vulgar language, or putting someone down, they will think that that is acceptable behavior. Ask them what are some kind words they can use. When they use unkind words, correct them immediately with a kind word.
COOL KIND KID is all about helping young children learn how they can be both "cool" and "kind." Encourage your kids that if they want to be cool, then they have to be kind. Teach them that, "The KIND kid is the COOL kid, not the bully." There will be more Social Skills Tips for The New Year in my next blog.