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It used to be that the most important attribute we were meant to have was our IQ. It was something we were born with, though of course a good education and a positive home environment does also affected IQ scores.
More recently people have looked at Gardener’s theory of multiple intelligences and started to value all the different ways people can be clever. A mathematician may be fantastic with numbers for example but not great at writing a literary essay, or vice versa.
It’s very important to give our children a wide range of opportunities to discover what they are good at early on so they can decide what they want to focus on. However one thing no one can really get away with anymore is having poor social skills.
Of course some of us are better than others at being good with people. If you’ve got a wee chatterbox who finds it easy to smile at strangers, and interact with others, then you’re sorted. However all children need to learn to interact with people, so they can use this skill later on in life.
If you’ve got a shy child it s still important they learn skills in communicating. Talk to them about overcoming fears, embracing fear and using it. Even children as young as five and six can understand this. If you’ve been nervous speaking in public, share your own experiences.
Never force your child into a situation where they feel unsafe, but offer to share it with them. Refuse to be curtailed by their fears however. If you are naturally exuberant and cheerful, let your child see the way you interact with others, rather than you opting to stay at home because new social settings makes your child nervous.
Use a wide range of tools to help your child become more confident with others. You can role play with toys, and teddy bears, or make a conscious effort to invite friends over. Interact with other parents, and get your child into situations where they already enjoy themselves and feel relaxed such as a soccer team, or a drama class.
Teach them manners and help them learn tools to self manage difficult situations. Talking to an adult for most children can really be a last point of call.