Welcome to the third of our LV Moms Panel stories, brought to you by Dove.
What's that, you ask?
Throughout the summer, we'll ask five amazingly accomplished moms to chime in on the topics that are near and dear to all moms' hearts. So far, they've chimed in on bullying and the ways we could be holding girls back from reaching their full potential. Today, they'll be discussing the old-school habits we should be teaching our kids today that will help them become successful in their futures.
Meet our moms below, hear what they have to say about their kids' (and their own) take on the topic, then get to know them better by joining the discussion here!
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Ask any parent out there and he or she will say the same thing: Of course I want to raise my kids to be polite and well-mannered.
Polite and well-mannered is one thing (the basics include not throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, sharing toys on his play dates, etc.)--but what specific habits should we be teaching our kids that will help them be successful in their futures?
We decided to ask Barbara Gilmour, founder and owner of Cool Kind Kid, a social-skills education firm. “Kids can’t go anywhere in their lives without social skills,” says Gilmour. "Children with strong social skills are more confident in any situation, and they're more likely to become leaders.”
We want our kids to be polite, confident and successful in their future endeavors. So what's the secret? Gilmour tells us there are six traditional social skills that give your child an advantage--not only in school and at home, but also when they're ready to leave the nest to fly solo.
1. The Basics
Teaching your child to say "please," "thank you" and "you're welcome" is about as basic as you can get, but these simple social skills help cast your child as friendly and cooperative, traits that will serve her well in her future. A study conducted by Christy Lleras from the University of Illinois found that high-school students who had been described as conscientious and cooperative by their teachers were earning more ten years out of high school than their classmates who were not.
"My findings show that the most successful students are those who have not only high achievement test scores, but also the kinds of social skills and behaviors that are highly rewarded by employers in the workplace," Lleras said in a press release. "[The best schools] socialize students and provide the kinds of learning opportunities that help them to become good citizens and to be successful in the labor market."
2. Making Eye Contact
The simple act of making eye contact (paired with the previous skills of saying 'hello' and 'goodbye')—are a win-win for a kid. When your child sees a neighbor out walking and takes the time to look him in the eye and say hello, when it comes time to find someone to mow the lawn or feed the cat for a few bucks over the summer, your kid will be the first one they think of, Gilmour points out.
Eye contact, and body language in general, are also important on interviews. Studies have shown that interviewees make a defining impression within the first 30 seconds of a meeting, so appearing confident with a firm handshake and a direct gaze is crucial—and that teaching starts when they’re young.
3. Phone Politesse
Telephone skills are even more crucial today then they were when your phone had a cord and was nailed to the wall. The ubiquity of mobile phones means we communicate using those devices more and more. Teach your child to speak clearly and in a friendly tone when he answers the phone--and remind him to say "hello" instead of "hey" or "what’s up?". A surly phone manner can make that babysitting gig disappear in a flash.
And here’s a new one for a modern age--teach your child to turn cell phones off when in a social setting. At dinner, a networking event or at a business meeting, it's important to give your full attention to the matter at hand.
4. Good Listening Skills
Kids are prone to interrupting, and it’s our job to teach them how to listen and wait their turn to speak. Being a good listener shows respect and helps build strong relationships, and the ability to engage in a conversational volley is essential, especially when your kid grows up and tries his hand at job interviews.
5. How to Say Thank You
Besides the fact that everyone likes getting mail, sending out handwritten thank you notes is a time-honored tradition that still holds weight today. In a recent survey, 22% of hiring managers said they were less likely to hire a candidate if they didn't receive a thank you note after an interview.
Unfortunately, this skill seems to have fallen by the wayside in today's email-obsessed society. Another survey found that just 30.7% of parents require that their kids always write thank-you notes, while 27.6% said they never do. When they’re little, you can start kids off on the right foot by asking them to draw a picture and send it to gift-givers, but as they get older, there's no reason kids who can write on their own shouldn't be sending out thank you notes for everything from birthday gifts to a helpful conversation they had with their teacher.
6. Proper Table Manners
Having a meal with the entire family sitting together at the table at least once a week will do wonders for your kids--not the least of which is allowing the opportunity for you to teach them how to behave while eating. They'll learn to engage in social conversation, along with important etiquette skills like putting their napkins in their laps, chewing with their mouths closed and keeping their elbows off the table.
On top of that, kids in families who eat together are more likely to stay away from smoking and alcohol, and they get better grades in school, among other things. “Additionally, research shows that the missing link when it comes to understanding how bullying happens is social skills,” says Gilmour. “Kids who [who have frequent conversations with their parents] just feel better about themselves in any situation, and are better able to stand up for themselves.” (We talked more about the effects of bullying here.)
Tell us--what are the habits you're trying to make sure your kids pick up before they fly the nest?
Here's what the LV Moms Panel had to say ...
Accolades: Founder of Weelicious and author of Weelicious: One Family. One Meal. (September 18th)
Children: Kenya (5) and Chloe (3)
What She Had To Say: "Respect is quite important to me--things like saying please and thank you, and making others know you appreciate any kindness they've offered you. Teaching my kids that they don't get a prize or treat for doing things they should be doing, like cleaning up after themselves or working as a family to make dinner--these are all important aspects in raising successful kids."
Accolades: Jenine Holmes is author of the blog The Single Baby Mama--Single By Chance, Mother Through Adoption. She also balances a marketing writing career with writing author and book interviews for The Brooklyn Rail. Her essays have appeared in The Detroit News, New York Press and AOL, and her commercial work spans from Pepsi to Dr. Scholl's.
Children: Julia (2)
What She Had To Say: "In the list of important old-school habits vital to Julia's development, an appreciation of learning and reading physical books tops the list. While educational apps are a part of learning in the 21st century, in our house, I am the only one familiar with the iPad. Julia, even at the age of 2, will cozy up with a book and savor the pages. Of course, she can't read the text yet, but she is creating a relationship with printed words and images."
Accolades: Jennifer Perkins is the founder of the blog, book and Etsy store Naughty Secretary Club and is a founding member of the Austin Craft Mafia. Jennifer has worked with HGTV and DIY Network as the host of Craft Lab and co-host of Stylelicious, and is the DIY editor on BlogHer.
Children: Tallulah (3) and Baxter (1)
What She Had To Say: "I must admit that my husband, not my parents, got me started writing thank you notes. We already teach our children about writing thank you cards. Being a crafty mom, my children's thank you cards are usually handmade. My daughter often asks me to make cards, even when there is no one to thank, so we have a bit of a stockpile. I think good manners go a long way in a person's professional and personal life."
Accolades: Founder and CEO of Mom Central Consulting, the leading social media consulting firm focused on moms. Prior to this, Stacy authored four best-selling parenting books and launched Mom Central, Inc., a company devoted to providing savvy advice to simplify and enrich the lives of busy moms and their families.
Children: Two teens, Kyle and Brooks
What She Had To Say: "Only when you become a parent do you realize the importance of the words please and thank you. These words can transform people's perception of your child, and when you get notes from teachers about how much they enjoy having your child in class, you understand where it all started. These 'old-fashioned' courtesies--learning to engage in polite conversation, greeting adults upon meeting them, being respectful to everyone and unplugging from electronics when around friends and family members--really make a difference."
Accolades: Neale is the Chairman of Children’s Financial Network. She was one of the first female executives at The Chase Manhattan Bank, and later, the president of The First Women’s Bank and founder of The First Children’s Bank. In 1989, Neale formed Children’s Financial Network, Inc. to educate children and parents about money. She is the author of 26 books on money, life skills and value issues.
Children: Neale has two children, Kyle, age 29, and Rhett, age 26. She also has two grandchildren, Gavin, 4 years old and Bodhi, 18 months.
What She Had To Say: "You are going to meet people on the way up the ladder and on the way down the ladder, so make sure you treat everybody with respect and dignity."
Keep the conversation going on the LV Moms Discussion board.