It’s been said over and over again: if we want to raise children who will grow up to be successful in life, we need to focus on more than just academic success. Here are some of the qualities and traits that we have covered in the past:
- Emotional intelligence, specifically empathy
- To be conscientious and open to experience
- Grit and a growth mindset
- A mix of IQ, creativity and practical intelligence
- Self-control, executive function skills, fluid intelligence, and a good working memory
- Critical thinking skills
- Problem solving skills – which relates back to fluid intelligence
Recently, an article from the New York Times added one more: social skills – can your child play well with others? To be more specific, the article covers the importance of having the power combination – cognitive and social skills – since either on its own will not be enough. Jobs that require only technical skills are likely to become automated in future. Jobs that require only empathy and flexibility will not be well paid because there are too many people available to take the job.
Despite the emphasis on teaching computer science, learning math and science is not enough. Jobs that involve those skills but not social skills, like those held by bookkeepers, bank tellers and certain types of engineers, have performed the worst in employment growth in recent years for all but the highest-paying jobs. In the tech industry, for instance, it’s the jobs that combine technical and interpersonal skills that are booming, like being a computer scientist working on a group project.
Helping Children Develop Social Skills
Since most school focus on cognitive development – that is the main focus of a school after all – the real concern is that there is insufficient focus on the development of social skills. So what can we do to help children develop their social skills? Here are a few programs we have covered in the past:
- Neuro-Dramatic Play for Empathy, Anger Management, and Social & Emotional Resilience
- The MindUP Curriculum – which is about incorporating mindfulness into education (more resources for mindfulness)
- Sports and physical activity – kids who are active in sports have better emotional management and social skills
- Music – children who learn music have better communication and social interaction skills because it helps children develop empathy and improve their ability to interpret facial expressions and body language.
More Resourcesfor Teaching Kids Social Skills
- Research Based Curricula for Social Skills
- Social Thinking
- Teaching Social Skills to Kids Who Don’t Have Them (yet)
- 101 Ways to Teach Kids Social Skills (PDF)