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Children need valuable, development-oriented social skills

Educational Journey with EPHAT MUDENDA
HAVE you ever been in a situation where people you consider as friends or colleagues make you feel out of place because of their attitude towards you?

Some people like nudging and whispering to each other as they mock another person for whatever reasons best known to themselves.
One can conclude that such characters are just uncivilised, while others may be forced to describe this kind of uncouth behaviour using various adjectives, including foolish, stupid and the like. And sometimes this tendency is displayed by educated individuals, whether in workplaces, at church, at school or any other place where people meet.
Yet ‘natural justice’ demands that every human being should be treated as such – a human being in the human family.
For a person to feel that he or she is truly a part of this family, there are desirable skills which need to be acquired and nurtured from an early stage in life. One should be able to effectively communicate and interact with other people, both verbally and non-verbally, through gestures, body language and one’s personal appearance. These are called social skills.
The word skill simply means ‘the ability to do something well’. In this case, it is the ability for one to communicate messages, thoughts, and feelings with others.
So, from a tender age, children need to be taught ways of dealing with others; ways that create healthy and positive interactions. Teachers and parents ought to know that social skills and character development are more difficult to attain and harder to change when a person gets older. These skills should be learned, practised and taught from childhood. As they grow, children will be able to communicate not only clearly, but also calmly and respectfully.
They will use social skills for personal and professional communication later in life. Since these skills involve effective communication, it is better to help them learn how to express opinions or desires strongly and with confidence.
Besides, positive behavioural patterns and attitudes will help them learn how to show consideration for the feelings and interests of other people around them. Children will learn how to take responsibility for their actions, to control themselves, as well as to assert themselves in various situations.
It is through experiences with their fellow children, examples and instructions from parents, teachers and other adults, that they can effectively acquire social skills, which are an important tool for creating and developing healthy relationships. As building blocks for desired friendships, social skills lessen the chance for negative interactions.
One of the strategies for teaching children about healthy living is to simply provide opportunities for social interaction. They must learn how to interact with others through experience. Think about a birthday party and the like, to which other children can be invited. This can be either at home or special places where children’s parties and other activities take place.
Teaching young ones how to find words to express how they feel – instead of resorting to aggression or frustration – is very important. For instance, when a child lashes out, mum or dad can just calm her or him down and ask the little one to share what he/ she thinks. This is to make sure that the child learns how to appropriately express what he/ she feels instead of becoming aggressive.
Encouraging children to request for certain things also helps in developing social skills. Teachers and parents should always find time to talk with the young ones about their requests. Discussion is promoted in this way and, therefore, it teaches children how to engage in profitable communication with others. For instance, instead of a father only telling his son, ‘No, you’re not going to that party’, or ‘I won’t allow you to do this!’ he will do well to sit with the child and calmly explain the reasons for taking such a decision.
Having well developed social skills has several advantages. They promote strong interpersonal relationships which, in turn, not only help one become charismatic, but to easily make new friends, among others. In addition, well developed social skills offer one a better outlook on life, as they increase an individual’s happiness and satisfaction.
They also promote better communication and greater efficiency. Being able to clearly express ideas is an important skill that one can develop in life. The ability to work well in a team further increases efficiency. Understanding people and knowing how to relate with them opens many personal and career-related paths.
The moment you see a colleague nudging the person close to them, evidently despising others, mocking them and looking down on their friends, just know that their orientation in school and at home was extremely poor.
Now is the time to impart valuable, development-oriented social skills to our children, both at home and school, to prepare them for a bright future – they are tomorrow’s leaders.
ephatm@yahoo.com/emudenda@daily-mail.co.zm

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