10 Skills Every Child Should Possess

10 Skills Every Child Should Possess

Practical tips for teaching children to be civil in an increasingly uncivil world.

Today’s parents are raising children in a different environment than I did. Children—once allowed to play outside unsupervised—are now closely watched by parents. Every activity is intensely analyzed, from riding in the car to selecting food for their lunches. Parents worry about addictions to technology, around the clock cyberbullying, and ever-increasing safety concerns.

Interestingly, the solution to many of today’s parenting challenges lies in the wisdom of yesterday. Children who struggle to make friends, act like a bully, lack self-control, are unaware of their surroundings, and are socially awkward lack traditional life skills. Well-mannered children that understand the value of respect, restraint, and personal responsibility are better prepared for the playground today and the boardroom tomorrow.

So, how do we teach children to be civil in an increasingly uncivil world?

Children Cannot “Put On” Good Manners

Children are often encouraged to “put on their best manners” when a guest visits, at a restaurant, or at an important event. Unfortunately, good manners are not like a special outfit that can simply be “put on.” If good manners are not consistently required at home, it is nearly impossible for children to use them elsewhere.

The goal must be to have good manners become a part of children’s identity. No skill is learned, let alone mastered, by limited exposure. Michael Jordan was not a great basketball player because he consciously understood the rules of the game; he was great because—after years of practice—he internalized the game and knew instinctively what to do in any situation. Similarly, manners and civility become useful when they are learned, practiced, and then practiced some more. Over time, good manners are internalized and excellent behavior is automatic (most of the time).

Children Learn by Watching

A parent is the most important and influential teacher in a child’s life. A parent’s day-to-day conversations and behavior provide a powerful model for how their children should treat others and navigate social settings. Parent’s daily, informal, bite-sized lessons shape their children’s values and character.

Parents teach children to embrace civility by holding the door for the person behind them, saying “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me,” volunteering to help others, choosing people over technology, speaking well of others, and arriving on time for events. Ideally, these lessons would be reinforced at school and in the media, but—sadly—that is not often the case today. As a result, modeling civility at home is more important than ever.

10 Skills for Civil Children

Parents often go to great lengths to ensure that their children become the best in athletics, the arts, and academics. But critical life skills training is sometimes neglected in the frantic rhythm of today’s family life. Children that develop healthy social skills grow to be effective leaders. They demonstrate higher levels of empathy, lower levels of narcissism, and are generally happier. Cultivating these powerful social skills in children must become one of our top priorities.

Mastering social skills is a life-long process, and there are age appropriate objectives for every child. For example, while it is impractical to think a toddler can master a knife and fork, they are certainly able to say “hello” when a guest comes to their home. Here are ten social skills that every child should eventually learn.

  1. How to meet and greet others
  2. How to shake hands
  3. How to carry on a conversation
  4. How to be a gracious guest and host
  5. How to execute basic dining skills
  6. How to give and receive compliments
  7. How to groom and dress appropriately for the occasion
  8. How to establish and maintain good posture
  9. How to handle technology
  10. How to handle cultural differences

Skilled teachers and coaches play vital roles in children’s development. At Final Touch, we view ourselves as coaches that come along side of you—the parent—in raising civil children. Our goal is to supplement your child’s education with critical life skill’s training. Our flagship children’s program has been taught around the world, and is now available online. Learn more about our Young Ladies & Gentlemen web-based program by visiting our website. We would be honored to partner with you and support your family.

How do you want to be remembered?™

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  1. Great article. Those ten skills for civil children apply to adults too. I could certainly brush up on a few of them.

  2. Thank you, Lynne! We certainly agree that these are important skills for all people. We are constantly learning, and believe that everyone can benefit by polishing their social behavior. If you are interested in attending one of our public courses, please check them out here: //finaltouchschool.com/public-courses/.

  3. A couple of years ago you presented a program for Parks & Recreation Dept., Lacey/Olympia, WA. Do you plan to have a similar presentation this summer?

    Thanks very much.

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