Although they are among some of the most important skills for children to develop early, interpersonal skills often miss parents’ radar for developmental milestones.
In fact, interpersonal skills go far beyond the social and communication skills that typically concern parents. Nevertheless, helping children develop the full range of interpersonal skills is one of the most important things you can do to ensure they grow up to have healthy relationships with others.
According to NG Barakat’s article in the Libyan Journal of Medicine, “Interpersonal skills are those essential skills involved in dealing with and relating to other people, largely on a one- to-one basis.” Some of the most important interpersonal skills that children should learn to develop include conflict resolution, persuasion, and manners.
This article will detail how parents can help their children develop these very important interpersonal skills.
This interpersonal skill is often one of the hardest for children to learn. This is why an argument over who gets to play with the blue train often ruins an entire play date.
In many cases, a parent’s first reaction to their child’s engagement with conflict is to remove him or her from the situation. While this is certainly necessary in some situations, especially those that include violent behavior, one way to teach children how to resolve their own conflicts is to keep the children in the conflict situation and show them how to work themselves out. Then, the next time they are in a conflict situation, you can step back and see how they do on their own.
For example, if your child is arguing over a toy with another child, step in and propose a unique solution that is fair for all. For example, Joey gets to play with the toy for five minutes and then Suzy can have five minutes. You’ll set the timer. This shows children that conflict resolution should be creative and satisfy everyone when possible. Simply removing Joey from the situation and asking him to play elsewhere would not teach this.
If you’re like most parents, you don’t think your child needs any help learning to be persuasive — he or she can probably whine, cry, and beg for hours.
However, what you probably would agree with is that your child needs to learn how to persuade in a positive manner. Your child needs to learn what methods of persuasion are effective, such as citing evidence and appealing to the other person’s desires.
For older children, an excellent way to teach this skill is to require your children to present you with a compelling argument for something they want — a puppy, a cell phone, etc. Each time they present a tactic that is not effective, tell them why or refuse to hear the argument. When they have developed an especially good argument, you might consider giving them what they want.
You’ve probably been embarrassed by your children numerous times. Their manners, you think, certainly leave something to be desired.
Children need to learn good manners because it will help them get along with others in society.
When children have poor manners, however, it is usually because they simply do not know how to analyze a situation and change their behavior accordingly. In fact, this is what all good interpersonal skills require. To be able to have good interpersonal skills, individuals need to be able to examine a situation and determine what sort of behavior or actions it calls for.
For example, when well-mannered adults go to a nice restaurant they know there are certain behaviors that are expected. Children simply haven’t gained that knowledge yet if they have not been presented with this situation. This is why they may laugh out loud at a funeral. They simply don’t know they are not supposed to.
That’s way it’s important to begin to talk them through the analysis process.
When you walk into a fancy restaurant, ask them, “What do you observe about this restaurant that makes it different from other restaurants where we have eaten?” Assist them in pointing out the fine china, nicely dressed people, and cloth tablecloths. Then walk them through deciding what kind of behavior would be appropriate for the situation. You can ask “Are people speaking quietly or are shouting?”
As is the case with the teaching of most soft skills, the idea is to help them analyze situations on their own so that, in time, they will be able to make the best decision as to how to behave.
Children need to develop good interpersonal skills so they will be successful later in life, but if parents do not help them, they will struggle with this skill. These ideas are just a few ways in which you can help children develop interpersonal skills.