Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Teaching Social Skills to Children

Ever resourceful, New York parents have found a new way to help their children. They have started signing them up for courses in social skills.

You know, social skills like … having a conversation. Social skills like practicing good manners.  

Parents have noticed that their children too often communicate through text messages. They have decided to disconnect the youngsters from their electronic prostheses and teach them to sit down and have a chat.

Not just any chat and not just with anyone. They want their children to be coached in how to converse.

It’s enough of a trend to be the subject of an article in today’s Wall Street Journal.

The topic is ripe for derision. Why is it, you ask yourselves, that these parents have neither the time nor the energy nor the inclination to teach these skills at home?

If parents are too busy to converse with their children, something is wrong. If parents cannot find time in their busy schedules to sit down and actually talk to their children, they need to re-evaluate their priorities.

Besides, don’t these parents know how to be polite and courteous? Can’t they teach their children the basics of etiquette?

In a culture that thinks that the only thing that matters is how much you love and indulge your children, these classes in social skills do not seem like such a bad idea.

If there aren’t any courses in your neighborhood, how about trying it at home.  Start with family dinners. Make them an everyday family ritual. Make them into an open conversational forum. They will do wonders for health and happiness and social skills of the little ones. They will even benefit the parental units.

If a course in social skills is intended to replace neglectful parents, it is not going to succeed. If it is supposed to supplement family conversation, it might be valuable.

Children today are sorely in need of good manners. They do need to learn how to conduct conversations. They need to learn decorum and discipline.

Surely, parents should be primary providers in character building, but if children live in a culture where character is demeaned, they might need some extra protection.

I am especially heartened by the dog that didn’t bark in this report. These parents are not sending their children into therapy. Be thankful for that.

They have identified the real problem and are working to address it.

They may not get a gold star, but they do merit half a star.

1 comment:

Retriever said...

It's not such a bad idea these days, especially given what appalling behavior is tolerated in the public schools. There's a stage when the kids are becoming more independent of the parental units' nagging...er...gentle reminders about proper behavior when good adult role models are very important. But if they aren't available in school or church, better to pay someone than for the kid to have no one.

What really gets my goat, tho, is when lazy parents hire homework monitors for their kids or tutors to help the kid do their homework so that they get better grades. These are the kids who crash and burn when they are faced with a blue book exam they have to do on their own without help, or when they are on their own.