It’s proven that children who have good social skills and polite manners are more successful throughout school and life than those who do not have these skills. They can more easily make friends, handle different and sometimes stressful situations, and are able to make a good impression on others whether that’s a teacher or coach, or eventually, a college interviewer, or boss.
We all try to teach our children manners and to be socially confident, but sometimes we get too busy, it gets too hard, or we just aren’t sure what to do. Below are some quick and easy tips on what to do and how to teach your children three basic things to have nice manners and confident social skills.
GO BACK TO THE BASICS
What It Looks Like: Remind your children to say “please” and “thank you”. When we use these words, we are showing that we understand that people have an option to help us or not and that we appreciate what they do for us. Teachers, coaches and school administrators appreciate kids who use “the magic words”.
Teaching the basics of table manners is also important. Teach your children what to do before, during and after a meal so that they learn and then also make a good impression when they go to someone’s house for a playdate (and so they don’t embarrass you). Things like putting their napkin in their lap, waiting for everyone to sit down before they eat, and using their utensil properly.
Also, it’s a good idea to remind your children (especially as they get into middle and high school) that they need to show respect and kindness to everyone regardless of their gender, age, race, religion, socioeconomic class, or sexual orientation.
Practice. Use “the magic words” with your children and remind them to use these words at home so it becomes second nature.
Teach your children about table manners from a book or click HERE for a quick video on exactly what to teach your children. Make a point to have a sit-down relaxed dinner with your family as much as you can, but at least once a week, and during those meals remind your children what to do and not do to have nice dining etiquette.
You can teach children to show respect and kindness to others by your example and also discourage your children from talking badly about someone just because they are different. Kids who gossip at school and talk badly about others never get ahead.
Remember: Table manners are one of those things where there is a right and a wrong way to do things and others can see in a second if you know what to do. Kids learn from you and so lead by example. Things like putting your cell phone away when with others and at the table, not making negative comments about others, and having nice table manners will show what the expectations are for your children.
HAVE A GOOD ATTITUDE AND POSITIVE ENERGY
Explain to your children that even if they don’t want to be someplace, they should try to have a good attitude because people will pick up on their energy. If they can find ways to think, act, and look happy and exude positive energy and confidence, people will gravitate towards them and want to be around them.
What It Looks Like: Having confident body language with their head held high, giving eye contact, and having a smile on their face will show others they are a warm and confident person which are, according to studies, the two traits that make people “likable.” If they look at the ground, look scared or shy, or bury their head in their cell phone it could give off the impression that they aren’t friendly, are insecure, and/or don’t care about the people around them or want to make friends.
Practice: Have your kids point out other children and adults in a social situation (school, church, ballgame, party) that seem to look happy and confident. Discuss why they look that way and how others are responding to them. Talk about how they could act, look and be that way too when they are in specific social situations. If they can in that situation, have them practice what they see others doing. Each time they can practice even one new skill will be a step closer towards feeling more confident and comfortable. Also, when you’re going into a social situation with your child, give them a heads-up as to what they can do to show they are a warm and confident person, then encourage them to do those things you discussed, and then praise them for doing things correctly and/or discuss what they can do better next time.
Remember: Don’t say to your child or anyone you meet that they are shy. This only makes matters worse and gives your child an excuse to not talk.H
HAVE GOOD CONVERSATION SKILLS
Kids that feel comfortable talking with other kids and adults will be able to make friends more easily and will also get positive reinforcement from adults who will praise them for their nice social skills.
What it Looks Like: Your child can learn how to use environmental and social clues to ask appropriate questions of kids and adults to make a good first impression and build the relationship. When kids ask questions about other people it shows they care about the other person and this will help them to make friends.
Practice: You can easily practice this my playing a game of “Conversation Catch.” Standing a few feet apart, take any kind of ball and toss it back and forth like you’re playing a game of catch. Then, start the Conversation Catch game by:
- First person asks a question of the other person and throws him/her the ball. (Example, “What do you like to do in the summer?”)
- Second person catches the ball, answers the question, asks the other person a question, then throws the ball. (Example, “I love to swim at our neighborhood pool because a lof of my friends go there too. What do you like to do during the summer?”)
- Repeat this game back and forth for a couple of minutes until you can work up to having a conversation without stopping for five minutes.
Becoming a good conversationalist can be done by practicing with the family first, and then encourage them to make conversation with adults like in their carpool, their teacher, coach, group leader, etc. With other kids, do some role playing in different situations they might face like on the playground, at school, etc. and have them practice what they could say and do. Help them to learn how to use clues around them (who they are with, where they are, what they are doing) to come up with topics of conversation. Showing empathy towards others, helping someone out, and showing kindness in some way are good ways to bond with people, so show your kids what that looks like and sounds like when they are talking to others.
Remember: You can encourage your kids to make conversation with one new person at school every day and then tell you how it went. It can be a short conversation but having them motivated to do it in a small way each day is good and then reward them in some way if you think that’s helpful motivation.
REINFORCE GOOD MANNERS
When you see your kids demonstrating nice manners and confident social skills praise them. Point out what they have done well and say things to them like:
- You are so good at looking people in the eyes when they are talking to you.
- I love your nice table manners.
- You have such a nice smile and people love seeing it.
- It was so nice that you told Mrs. Smith that it was nice to meet her.
- You asked such great questions when you were talking to that person. I know they liked talking to you.
- It was so nice that you used “please” and “thank you” to your friend when he came over. I’m sure she thinks you’re really nice.
- When you stand up straight and look so confident you glow and make others want to be around you.
- Thank you for cleaning up your room the first time I asked you to.
For more etiquette information, videos, and classes for children, please go to FinesseWorldwide.com. Thank you, Aimee