I’m going to get cut straight through the chase and tell you like it is. No fluff. No cute intro. Nothing.
Parents, we are failing our kids when it comes to learning the art of social communication skills. Yes, I said it. Kids today have zero communication skills.
I have two very different children living in my home. One of them has never been shy to say the least. My son has been able to hold conversations with adults as if he arrived on this Earth with a full vocabulary ready to debate. The other, well it’s taken her a little more pushing over the years. She has truly come a long way and is more confident in holding conversations with adults. But it took work.
When she was old enough to participate in our library’s Lego Club program, around 5-6 years old, I noticed that she didn’t want to speak in front of a group of people she didn’t know. At the end of each Lego building session, the kids were asked to explain their creation to the other kids. My daughter wouldn’t say anything. Each week, we continued to go back. As the week’s went on, she became more bold and began to share her project with the others.
I’m so glad I pushed her.
Like most families, we liked to go out for dinner on weekends. At some point, we even encouraged the kids to place their own food order while speaking directly to our waiter/waitress. Hey, if you want to eat you better learn how to order your own food, right? This was another great way to get the kids used to speaking to adults.
But the area were I see kids struggle is answering the phone, taking a message, and relaying the message. Why? Because they don’t get enough practice! When I was a kid, our phone rang regularly with family, friends, and church members wanting to speak to someone at the house. With cell phones today, people either send a text or directly call the person they want to speak to. They cut out the middle man!
I can’t tell you the last time I have spoken to some of my husband’s friends and vice versa. This is robbing our children the lessons in learning how to practice telephone etiquette.
There’s a kid that calls my home every weekend, several times a day mind you, looking to speak to one of my kids. The very first phone conversation goes like this:
Me: Who’s calling?
Really, the first conversation went like that. After we discovered who the kid was looking to speak to, we literally had to teach this kid how to call our home, or any home, and the proper way to ask if he could speak to our kid. Now, we just have to get this kid to stop calling our home every 2 minutes when we’re away.
I have also noticed that kids don’t know how to address adults properly, and it’s not by first name unless specifically given permission. I could go on, but this post is already starting to get a little too long.
Years ago, I used to coordinate etiquette workshops for children. I decided to dust off this program. While my kids aren’t perfect, I can tell you that we stay on them about their communication skills all the time. It’s draining, but it’s also our responsibility as parents to raise not only polite children, but at least make sure they know what’s socially acceptable and what’s not.
To learn more about hosting an etiquette workshop for your group, take a look at the ad on the right for a complete list of topics. Boy and Girl Scout troops welcome!
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