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Right Foot Forward: Equipping Kids with Social Confidence This School Year

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It’s back-to-school time and you’re likely in full swing ensuring your child’s reading list has been completed, a new outfit or uniform is laid out and the first day book bag is packed. But, are your children prepared with the vital social skills to kick the year off on the right foot?

Social skills have been called the “missing piece” in American education, yet they are a critical component to school success. After all, school is a very social experience. From interacting with teachers to peers, kids are in social settings all day. Social skills have been proven to increase self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as decrease aggression. I see that firsthand in the classroom. But, even more so, they have been scientifically proven to increase academic performance.

Why not spend a little bit of time prepping your child for back-to-school success beyond the first day outfit? Here are five vital tips to help equip your kids with social confidence for success this school year:

First Impressions

We’ve all heard that we have one chance to make a first impression. Prepare your child(ren) for a great first impression with teachers and peers alike. At home, show your child(ren) the key components to a non-verbal first impressions- eye contact, a smile and good body language. And how to execute a proper handshake, particularly for teachers (see chapter 1 in socialsklz:-) for SUCCESS).

Know The Teacher

Is the English teacher a Mr. / Ms. / Mrs.? Be sure your child is armed with the understanding of how to make an introduction with his/her teachers properly. Explain the difference between Mrs. and Ms. (with a zzzzz sound). A teacher should never be addressed by his/her first name or a nickname; it’s always Mr./Ms./ Mrs., unless told otherwise. Practice and role play how to make an introduction at home.

Review The Do’s And Don’ts

Lunchroom behavior can leave a lasting impression. Go over dining basics including how to sit, eat and behave gracefully. Even though it’s a more casual dining experience, it still matters! Review how to eat gracefully, have a fun “school lunch” at home and prepare lunch in brown paper bags for kids.

Social Games

The playground is the perfect place to make friends and socialize with old friends. Before your kids go to school they should have at least three questions prepared to ask classmates they know as well as questions for new classmates. Have fun with the exercise and role play as if you were his/her classmate. Ask your child what he/she did over the summer and point out that one word answers don’t make for a great conversation!

Lasting Friendships

Kids have heard the word “bullying” countless times and often tend to tune out if it’s brought up. Instead try talking about thoughtfulness and empathy with kids. All children want to have friends and an important part of making friends and keeping friends is being thoughtful and empathetic. Share a few examples of how to be that type of friend and ask kids how they can be thoughtful. At the same time talk about how to handle sticky situations, which are inevitably part of relationships. Have a strategy set up for your children on what to do if faced with a difficult encounter.

Just like learning any other skill set, it’s imperative to proactively teach social skills and then practice and repeat them with our children in order to master them. Teaching and practicing can happen in the comfort of your home, and then application of the skills can happen in any public setting. Keep in mind that it will take time to master these social skills and, by all means, don’t correct your child in public!

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