Does Your Child Have What it Takes for Success?

Baltimore's Child, November 2001

By Cathleen Hanson, Director, International School of Protocol

All parents want their children to be successful. It's a simple as that. A child's success may be calibrated in terms of academic excellence, athletic performance or commitment to extra curricular activities. But have you ever considered that success is also measured by acts of kindness, by paying attention to the feelings of others, and by the demonstration of good listening and communication skills? Consider this statistic. Only 15 percent of success in business can be attributed to technical skills. On the other hand, 85 percent of the reason a person gets a job, keeps a job, or advances in a job is due to people skills. Translation: Your child's success hinges upon his social skills.

Does your child know how to handle himself during an interview? One of the times social skills are put to the test is during an interview for school admittance. With a large number of students vying for relatively few openings, it takes more than good grades or athletic prowess to earn entry into a school. The decision to select a particular child may, in fact, ultimately be based on how the child handles herself during the admittance interview. Good interview skills involve more than just answering questions or talking about favorite books. In addition to employing excellent communication skills, during the interview, your child should attend to such details as when and how to present a proper handshake, where to place her coat (or her handbag), as well as when it is appropriate for her to sit down (she should not sit until invited to do so).

Does your child have trouble talking with adults? Often children feel shy or uncomfortable with adults. They may avoid eye contact when communicating with adults, or they may mumble and respond to adults' questions awkwardly or with terse words or phrases. This lack of responsiveness can be limiting for your child. Good communication skills lead to opportunities. Children who can look adults in the eye and interact capably with adults (including teachers and youth leaders) are selected for places on academic teams, are considered for jobs, and are awarded other leadership roles.

Is your child aware of the impact his behavior has on others? A lack of social awareness can lead to social alienation as well as difficulty in school. When a child shoves or antagonizes other children he may be thought of as a bully-- when, in fact, he is lacking appropriate responses to social situations. This child is unable to assess a social situation, and can benefit from learning communication skills and socially acceptable responses. Likewise, a child who stares or makes faces may not realize the impact his nonverbal communication has on others.

Does your child help without being asked? One of the most important social abilities is to look beyond oneself and see the needs of others. Social acuity enables a child to step beyond the confines of her own self centeredness and recognize that others can benefit from her help. Simple but meaningful acts of kindness include opening the door for others, helping someone whose arms are full, and saying to a parent, teacher or friend, "May I help you?" With good social skills, you see a need, look at it as an opportunity, and present an offer to help.

With good social skills children succeed. And if your child uses effective social responses to maneuver through the myriad of social and academic challenges, in addition to having increased opportunities, you will find that your child will have increased confidence, greater self-esteem, and will employ socially appropriate alternatives to negative attention seeking behaviors.

The International School of Protocol's programs in social and communication skills provide opportunities for children to learn and practice these skills with peers in a fun and supportive environment. For more information about programs offered by The International School of Protocol visit www.schoolofprotocol.com or call 410-592-6399. The International School of Protocol has been featured on CBS's Early Show, on Maryland Public Televison, on WJZ-TV , and in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Business Weekly, The Daily Record, Bar Bulletin, The Towson Times, and The Jeffersonian, among others.