Well, this isn’t really going to be about fishing but it has a lot to do with the proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” You see you can teach a child a few behaviors and a few manners that will feed him for a lifetime. Adults and even peers will love kids who have good social skills, and in turn these children who are well loved are usually secure and brave about learning something new. They have positive relationships. So what are these positive behaviors and manners? Here are a few big ones:
Eye Contact – This is easy for some and nearly impossible for others. The first step is to make the child aware of what good eye contact looks like. In a playful and relaxed way, model good and bad eye contact. Finally have your child practice with you in a variety of settings. In our society clear eye contact is seen as respectful and a sign that a person in listening.
Manners – So simple! With no prompting a school age child should say thank you, please, excuse me, and know when to ask permission, or offer to help out now and then. Basic table manners go a long way too.
Tidiness – This is simply expecting that children pick up after themselves. Kids in school who sit in the middle of a mess never seem to get easily from the beginning to the end of a task.
To teach these behaviors and more we must give clear expectations, model, coach, and offer praise that describes the behavior. (See THE GOOD NEWS CHAIR: A Simple Tool for Shaping a Child’s Behavior and Self-Image for a unique way to recognize even the smallest accomplishments.) Rather than “Good job” try, “I noticed the smile on grandma’s face when you remembered to say please and thank you.” No need to expect perfection immediately. It won’t happen. Acknowledgement of what I call approximations is the starting point. Think of a child learning how to talk and walk. It sure doesn’t happen overnight. Neither will learning the social skills that sweeten relationships and in turn strengthen a child’s self-image.
What other social skills and character traits do you think all children should learn? Any tips for teaching them?
My best to you and your children,