Teaching Social Skills and Effective Communication- It’s never too early

Let’s face it, today parents are afraid to be strict with their children. Even 30 years ago, the adage “children should be seen and not heard” was the rule. Not anymore, not that we are promoting stifling a child’s need to communicate. However, how many times have we seen children interrupt their parents, say rude things to their parents, ignore guests or behave rudely to them, or just simply fail to demonstrate correct courtesy to others? How many times have we heard children use incorrect language or grammar and not be corrected by teachers or parents? How many times have we heard children express ideas without proper sentence structure or organization of thought, perhaps only using gestures and grunting noises? Are we doing these children a disservice by not teaching good communication practices and social skills to children? Is it because parents are afraid of setting guidelines for proper behavior for fear that it will affect their self-esteem? Clearly, the goal of this article is not to promote silent children, it is to promote children who communicate effectively and demonstrate skills which allow them to interact socially with adults and other children.

Too often, parents are afraid to correct their children for fear that they will negatively affect their child’s self-esteem. As a result, they allow children to speak as they wish without gentle guidance towards effective communication. Ultimately the children suffer from this neglect. They do not learn courteous behavior, appropriate use of language or social skills. Not possessing correct social skills, the child’s self-esteem may even suffer (Oswalt, N.p.).  The inability to make friends and feel comfortable with peers can weaken a child’s self-esteem. Such children would possibly be shunned by their peers and respond by either becoming bullies, or by becoming withdrawn, preferring to spend time with indulgent adults.

An excellent list of 10 ways to develop social skills in young children was developed by Community Coordinated Child Care:

  1. Encourage your child to play with other children.  Invite a neighbor, classmate or cousin over to play for a couple of hours.  Keep the visit short and don’t leave the children on their own.  Be available to help children     get started with a game.
  2. Play games with your child so he learns how to share and take turns.
  3. Teach your child the words he needs to express himself.  “Can I play with the puzzle now?”  Remind your child to “use his words” to express what he wants to reduce whining, crying and aggressive behaviors.
  4. Teach compromise to a preschooler by modeling it regularly.  “We’ll play hide and seek now and later we can play Candyland.”  “Since we bought grapes last week for you, today we’ll buy peaches for Louis.”
  5. Preschoolers who hit or use unacceptable language may do so because they see adults around them acting aggressively.  It is important for parents and caregivers to behave appropriately if they expect the children around them to behave.
  6. Your preschooler’s anger may get out of control because he cannot verbalize what he wants or needs.  If another child grabs a toy from Maria, she needs to be taught the words to say, “I am playing with the doll now;  please give it back to me,” instead of hitting or grabbing the toy.
  7. Give your child extra time to speak, allowing him time to collect his thoughts and think about what he can say.
  8. Do not give in to a child who whines or acts aggressively to get what he wants.  Negative behavior is often a call for attention.  Do not react to every negative behavior with attention, yelling, and intense emotions, which only rewards your child with a sense of power, attention and involvement.
  9. Compliment your child when he does the right thing and acts appropriately.
  10. Use distraction to help your child move away from the situation that is causing a problem.

Points 3, 4, 6, 7 & 8 above clearly show how closely linked are communication and social skills. Once a child is trained to ‘use your words’ and negotiate using effective language, both issues are addressed. Even very small children can be trained to say ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’, greet people with ‘hi’ and respond appropriately to adults. Reinforcement about appropriate body language can also be used (see YouTube video above) to help children understand how to effectively communicate with others.

Ultimately, a child who possesses good social skills and communication skills will function better in school, experiencing greater success. Such a child will have the confidence to believe in himself and his ideas and be more creative. All these skills are closely linked to success in life.

References

Goddard, Roger. “Building Social Skills.” Building Blocks for Young Children. Community Coordinated Child Care, n.d. Web. 18 June 2013. http://www.ccccunion.org/PDFsforwebsite/BuildingSocialSkillsBrochure.pdf .

Oswalt, Angela. “Guidelines for Correcting or Disciplining Children – Self Esteem.” Community Counseling Services, Inc.. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 June 2013. http://www.hsccs.org/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=37619&cn=96.

Parker, Wayne. “Child Behavior – Setting Limits for Your Children.” Fatherhood at About.com:  Resources and Support for Fathers. About.com Guide, n.d. Web. 18 June 2013. http://fatherhood.about.com/od/effectivediscipline/a/settinglimits.html

Walker-Thomas, Tammy. “Children Should Be Seen and Not Heard: a Disciplinary Standard for the 21st Century?.” Yahoo Voices. N.p., 14 Mar. 2009. Web. 18 June 2013. http://voices.yahoo.com/children-seen-not-heard-disciplinary-2807835.html.

Career Prospects 2030

Engineering-children[1] cropAs time goes barreling by and you watch your child grow, you, as a parent who wants only the best for your child, start to wonder what she will be when she grows up, what will he achieve in terms of career? Traditionally, parents hoped their children would become doctors or some other meaningful career. Mostly, they just wanted their children to be successful and happy in some recognized position in a good company with a good salary. Today, do parents hope the same thing for their children? With the increasingly high competition for jobs, can parents hope for the same thing for their children?

With the incredible developments in technology and in knowledge in general, the types of careers of the future are indeterminate. Futurologists try to make predictions. For example, Karen Muloney stated: “The world will divide into those who understand technology and those who don’t.” Vice President Al Gore said: “Our civilization is experiencing unprecedented changes across many realms, largely due to the rapid advancement of information technology. The ability to code and understand the power of computing is crucial to success in today’s hyper-connected world.” We also know, from current job trends, that these skills are highly in demand along with skills in engineering and construction – in order to keep up with the increasing demand for urban development.

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Other sources state that the fastest-growing jobs require high levels of social, interpersonal, learning and critical thinking skills. Critical thinking helps us ask relevant questions, weigh evidence offered in support of arguments, interpret complex problems, and make wise decisions; all of which is increasingly required in future job markets. This is especially important when you realize that many problems do not lend themselves to clear-cut solutions. The ability to communicate is also, and will continue to be, a much-valued skill. With globalization, the ability to communicate effectively with people all over the world and understand their culture is becoming an unavoidable part of almost any career path. All of these skills have been seriously neglected in traditional schooling. Education has focused strongly on acquiring knowledge: schools have a curriculum which needs to be completed; a vertical storage of information which must be imparted over the child’s years of schooling. “We teach things, subject matter, but we don’t teach how to think, that is, to analyze and synthesize and to handle novelty,” says Dr. Robert F. Duvall, president and CEO of the Council for Economic Education.

What must be done to optimize your child’s preparedness for a future career? As the world becomes a little bit smaller year by year and month by month, children must be given opportunities at an early age to ‘think like scientists’. Enrolling them in extra-curricular activities that teach critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity will jump-start them for their future careers that are undefined as yet. Programs such as FasTracKids will open your child’s mind to opportunities in the future and prepare him for the challenges he will face as the world continues to grow more complex and more challenging. For example, would you have imagined when you were going through school that it would be possible in your lifetime to create functional 3-D images? Technology related to chemistry, biomedical engineering, physical science, and other such fields is growing at such a pace, it behooves us all to prepare our young people for the staggering challenges they will face when they enter the job market.

References

Belachew, Tsega. “How Do You Train Youth for Jobs of the Future?.” Ashoka Innovators for the Public. N.p., 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 6 May 2013. https://www.ashoka.org/story/how-do-you-train-youth-jobs-future .

Flag, Donna. “What Kids Need Now to Be Successful Later | Psychology Today.” Psychology Today: Health, Help, Happiness + Find a Therapist. N.p., 1 May 2013. Web. 6 May 2013. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/office-diaries/201305/what-kids-need-now-be-successful-later .

Gonyea, James C. “Education World: Preparing Kids for Careers.” Education World: The Educator’s Best Friend. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2013. http://www.educationworld.com/a_curr/curr395.shtml

Khullar, Mridu. “Worlds Apart: How the Educational System is Failing to Prepare US Youth to be Competitive in the Global Economy.” Diversity MBA Magazine – Diversity Management, Diverse Professionals, Diversity in Business. N.p., 13 Sept. 2009. Web. 6 May 2013. http://diversitymbamagazine.com/how-the-educational-system-is-failing-to-prepare-us-youth-to-be-competitive .

POCI. “My Child’s Future.” MyChildsFuture.org. Oregon’s Partnership for Occupational & Career Information, n.d. Web. 6 May 2013. http://mychildsfuture.org/parents/item.html.

Winch, Jessica. “10 well paid jobs of the future – Telegraph.” Telegraph.co.uk – Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph – Telegraph. N.p., 25 Feb. 2013. Web. 6 May 2013. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/9892011/10-well-paid-jobs-of-the-future.html .