Saturday, May 16, 2009

CNN Study: kids social skills linked to Mom

Dear Good Manners Devotees',

Yesterday I read an interesting article on about how mothers' talk is key to kids social skills.

I'm doing my best to make the above a live link so that you can go to it if you 'd like to read more -- my apologies if it doesn't work. (Try

In a nutshell, it details findings of a study that shows "...the way mothers talk to their children at a young age influences their social skills later in life. Children whose mothers often talked to them about people's feelings, beliefs, wants and intentions developed better social understanding than children whose mothers did not."

The article goes on to say that giving children a vocabulary of feelings helps them realize what their emotions are and gives them the ability to describe them in order to become more empathetic.

An example: when a child grabs a toy from another child, instead of saying "don't grab" or "stop it," it would be helpful to say that it makes the other child sad, and that it would make him or her sad if the same thing was done to them. (I actually put that ending onto it, that's how I interpreted it.)

So what am I, Good Manners Mom, trying to say to you, you ask?

That it's never too early to show our children how to treat other people with respect, to treat them the way that they want to be treated. Teaching them to understand feelings and to express their feelings early on can influence how they treat others for the rest of their lives.

Let me rephrase that, it sounds so clinical and preachy -- and yucky and burdensome -- as if you aren't busy enough trying to raise happy and healthy children.

Good manners and respect for other people are just like riding a bike -- at first, learning it is hard, and then once you learn how, it's something you never lose.

Just start using opportunities casually as they come up every day (or every other day or once a week) and soon your child will be well on the way to becoming a caring person with great social skills, and you will hardly realize you've been doing it!

Until next time,


P.S. The article mentions that when the study started 14 years ago, they weren't able to include many dads -- but that today more fathers spend time at home with their young children. So, Dads, you can do this, too!

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