Every child should have the opportunity of learning the ins and outs of social graces. Children need to feel comfortable being polite in social situations.
Teaching children about the important social graces will allow them to flourish and grow with the world. The social graces you teach impact children greatly and help support their journey through adulthood.
What Are Social Graces, and Why Are They So Important For Children To Learn?
Social graces are the polite manners that a child can use in certain situations. Grace can be defined as simple elegance or refinement of movement.
Teaching children social graces is essential because it ultimately helps children feel better about their actions! By using social graces, they are able to build their confidence and feel more secure in their actions. As a result, adults feel more comfortable with their children’s actions and feelings.
Learning social graces is not a difficult task. It can be taught to any child of any age. Social grace lessons may start during the preschool years with the general manners of “please” and “thank you,” but there’s more to social graces than just basic manners.
9 Social Graces You Should Teach To Children
Social graces are invaluable to have as a child and throughout adolescence and adulthood. No matter the situation they may be in, children will feel more comfortable with their actions and words.
That’s why taking the time to teach social graces matters. But what exactly should you focus on?
Let’s take a look beyond the basic social graces at the most important things you should focus on.
1. Eye Contact
Maintaining eye contact is very important. It not only shows respect for the person that you are talking to, it also shows that you are interested in the topic they are talking about.
Eye contact also portrays confidence. By demonstrating your ability to look into someone’s eyes, you’re displaying self-assurance in the environment you’re in.
Remind children that eye contact might feel intimate, and that’s because it is! It is a form of connection between people that cultivates commitment and appreciation.
2. Avoid Interrupting
Interrupting is a form of selfishness. If children are under the impression that interrupting conversations is okay, they’ll believe that it’s okay for their needs to surpass others—all of the time.
Teach children to refrain from interrupting. Fighting against that habit will allow them to establish patience. It will help them realize that their needs and desires aren’t always going to be the first priority. Teaching them to not interrupt also supports the idea of selflessness. They may be more likely to put others first.
3. Basic Conversation Skills
Basic conversation skills are a fundamental part of communication.
Children should know:
- How to take turns in a conversation
- When to listen to what the other person is saying
- When to respond appropriately
- How to stay on topic
- How to read nonverbal cues, like body language
Children may struggle with these skills because of their impulses of excitement. They may interrupt a conversation because they’re passionate about the topic. While they mean well, their actions are translated differently.
Without nonverbal cues, children lack basic conversation skills because they’re unfamiliar with certain gestures and what they mean. And that creates a recipe for social awkwardness and stress when making friends or working with others.
Luckily, there are ways for you to guide children around these social roadblocks.
By practicing scripted examples of strong conversations, children will understand the social graces and nuances that matter. They’ll learn that asking questions keeps your partner engaged and shows that you’re interested in what they’re talking about.
As an educator, you can help children brainstorm lists of phrases or words they can say in a conversation in order to sound engaged.
4. Pay Attention
As an educator, it is as important for you to be present in teaching as it is for children to be present in learning. While the process of learning social graces is ongoing, they are very aware of others’ actions.
Children can tell when you’re not in the present moment with them. This can result in a loss of connection between you and the children.
Social graces involve being in that present moment. Your job as an educator is to help support that! The more you are there with your students, the more they’ll pick up on how you act.
By demonstrating zero distractions and full attention, you’re teaching them to be present in conversations and situations.
5. Body Language
As I mentioned earlier, human beings read nonverbal cues during situations. That includes body language!
It is imperative that children understand that our bodies reflect our attitudes. Paint scenarios for them to demonstrate how positive and negative posture affects a situation.
Maintaining a tall posture, with shoulders back and your chin up suggests that you are paying attention to what is going on around you. In this position, children look more engaged and ready to participate.
Practice getting into attention postures with your students. These postures may also benefit the student’s engagement in the classroom.
6. Introduction Skills
By teaching children how to introduce themselves, you’re teaching them how to be confident and self-assured.
At first glance, children see introducing themselves as intimidating and uncomfortable. That’s why it’s your job to make introductions seem familiar and easy!
Teach your students the importance of eye contact and smiling during introductions. You can also teach them how to shake hands with someone appropriately.
It is important to practice these introduction skills with your students. By doing so, you’re able to help them in areas they may be struggling with while also letting them know what they are doing well.
7. Thank You Notes
Learning how to give thanks is crucial for children. Showing appreciation for others’ actions allows students to build awareness of selflessness.
Writing thank-you notes or emails is a foundational skill that teaches children the meaning of gratitude. By discussing the importance of appreciation, children can understand what it means when someone spends time doing something for them.
Inform them of what situations require thank you notes. Things like presents, cards, and even after interviews, all classify as reasons to give thanks to someone.
8. Table Manners
While children may not be eating in the classroom as much, it is important to remind them of the social graces of eating in public places.
Remind your students that they should be respectful and polite while eating their food.
By teaching children these rules below, you are allowing them to implement these skills in their own social life:
- Keep your mouth closed while chewing food
- Hold utensils correctly in your hands
- No shoveling or stabbing at food
- Wash your hands before eating
- Do not touch your face or other parts of your body at the table
- Use your napkin to wipe your face
- Keep a tall posture at the table
- Don’t put your elbows on the table
- Avoid reaching across the table for a plate
- Ask someone to pass you a plate or dish
Every child comes from a different background, and it is important for children to recognize that while this is the case, it doesn’t matter.
Children have different personalities. Some may be shyer than others, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have friends. Encourage your students to be a friend to someone who maybe doesn’t have one.
As an educator, children look up to you so it is important for you to set an example of kindness and inclusion! Showing respect and kindness to everyone in the classroom influences how the children will respect and show kindness.
Lastly, empathize with your students. Empathy is a difficult emotion to understand but by allowing them to see examples of it, children may be more encouraged to practice it in their own lives.
How To Successfully Teach Social Graces
Now that you understand the ways to teach social graces, it is time to implement them. How can you guarantee the success of these skills?
It’s all about how children view the learning process of social graces. Make it fun for them! If you avoid making social graces feel like chores, your students will be engaged and interested.
Remember, as an educator, you are an example for children. They are going to be watching you and your actions in public situations. By practicing the social graces you teach, you’re maintaining an example for students to follow.
Teaching social graces takes time. There may be days where it is more successful than others. Find ways to point out social graces as a norm. By calling out public situations, students are seeing social graces in action.
Keep the positivity up. Remember to be appreciative of your students and the progress they make towards fully understanding social graces!
It is fundamental for children to know the ins and outs of polite mannerisms. Not only will it help them feel more confident but it will help them establish connections with the people they meet.
Teaching social graces may seem like a daunting task, but by setting examples in your own behavior and by keeping it fun, you’ll serve as a guide to respect and kindness!