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Making the Case for Social Skills to Combat Bullying

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Making the Case for Social Skills to Combat Bullying

Bullying today has reached epidemic proportions, no matter where we are in civilized society. Many of the laws, policies, programs, and agendas designed to deal with or prevent bullying are not working.

Let’s explore some common truths about our society. I am sure that all of you have experienced rudeness at some time. Perhaps you encountered road rage on a super highway or your small town street. Or, maybe you had a meal in a nice restaurant ruined by a child running around while his parents were oblivious to his behavior. Then there is the obnoxious parent screaming at (and embarrassing) their own child, at a game that is supposed to be fun.

We wonder what happened to kids’ manners today. Maybe we should also wonder what happened to the manners and social skills of adults. Numerous studies over the last 20 or so years have reported that nearly 90% of us (in the US) consider rudeness a serious problem in our society. I’m sure you would agree with that. The worst of rudeness is bullying and violence, which are issues of great concern to kids, parents, educators, and community leaders. School bullying is so prevalent that all 50 US states now have legislation designed to deal with these issues.

I have always told students that there is good news and bad news about manners and social skills (which are just socially correct behavior.) The good news is that if they stay in their rooms 24/7, they won’t have to know any “manners stuff.” The bad news is if they come out of their rooms, they will have to know how to get along with others.

Considering that nearly 90% of us in the US, consider rudeness a serious problem in our society, and that 50 US states now have legislation requiring schools to deal with bullying and violence, it seems that we need to rethink the importance of manners and social skills training.

I have always believed that good manners contribute to a more caring, respectful, and successful life. When most people hear the term “good manners,” they assume you mean table manners or dining skills. But manners and social skills are much more than dining; they teach us how to behave in an acceptable way wherever we go and whatever we are doing.

If a child hasn’t been taught to play fair, share, and to get along with others, he is at a distinct disadvantage when entering school. He may suffer from lack of friends, ridicule, delayed learning, and other negatives. If a high school girl has never been taught to eat in a manner that doesn’t gross out others, she may not be invited to a dance or party, or be ostracized by peers. Later, when entering the job market, the candidate with good social skills will secure the job over candidates with equal qualifications, but lacking in social skills. So, teaching children social skills is important.

Manners or etiquette rules have come into being because of a need for them. Some, such as the handshake, have been around a long time. Others, such as where to park your carriage (and what to do with the horse) when visiting someone’s home, disappear because times have changed. Now we have Netiquette, which is Internet Etiquette, or how to use the Internet so you don’t offend anyone and everyone is friendly and can get along.

Since table manners are what most people think manners are all about, we often think about the formal times in our past. Those formal times have caused many people to think etiquette is elitist; only for rich people, and that those rich people made up all the rules. So, if you aren’t going where rich people go, who needs them?

Manners and etiquette have gotten a bum rap over the last 30-40 years. “They keep me from being myself.” “They spoil my fun.” “Who cares if I have good manners?” “So what if I don’t teach my kids this stuff, I didn’t learn it and I’m fine.” One of the biggest myths about manners is that they don’t matter.

Our children need manners and social skills training, and they need it at a young age. Equipping them with social skills tools will help them reject bullying. Watch out for positive behavior changes; they really want to know how to do the right thing, be kind and respectful, please the adults in their lives, and have more friends.

(C) Cool Kind Kid


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