As a single parent, I am always looking for resources to help me become a better parent and help my children to grow up healthy. One great resource that I have been discussing over the past few weeks is the Search Institute’s asset development tools, which addresses the multi-faceted development of children.
The next group of assets are categorized as social competencies, which speak to the need for children and teens to “Build skills and competencies that equip them to make positive choices, build relationships and succeed in life” (Search Institute).
The social competencies assets are:
• Planning and decision making
• Interpersonal competence
• Cultural competence
• Resistance skills
• Peaceful conflict resolution
Children need to know how to plan and make good decisions. They need to understand that their decisions have an effect on other people. These skills do not come easily, but take time and effort. Practice and reminders help children to learn to plan. Creating a written checklist of things such as homework or weekly chores around the house, that need to be completed can be helpful. Involve your children in making family decisions. Increase your child’s responsibility as he or she ages.
Interpersonal skills are more than just good manners. Help give your child confidence in communicating with others by role-playing with them at home. Show your children how to look someone in the eye and properly shake their hand. Help your children to identify and express their feelings. Even if you do not agree with how they feel, do not tell them or act as if they are wrong. If your child does something to hurt another person’s feelings, insist that your child apologize and try to be friendly toward that person in the future.
Help your child know and become comfortable with people of different ethnicities. Learn about your own heritage and others. Celebrate holidays of different cultures. If the area you live in is not very diverse, try to seek out multi-cultural events or classes in different localities. Talk about how different people groups are portrayed in books, television and movies. Model acceptance and appreciation of different cultures. Do not tolerate racism or prejudice.
Help children resist negative peer pressure by being a person they can come to and talk about anything. Talk about different ways to protect themselves and let them know it is ok to say “No” to an adult or any other person if they feel uncomfortable with them. Teach children how to be assertive vs. aggressive. Also, teach negotiation skills, and how to compromise with other children.
Non-violent conflict resolution skills are extremely important today. Help your child to learn and practice what to do in different situations. Don’t allow siblings to fight or pick on each other. Let children know that walking away is the best option when they have intense feelings that they do not know how to express in an appropriate way.