Making personal choices and building interpersonal skills
Social competencies are the skills all people need in order to navigate successfully through life. Without social competencies, people lack the essential skills they need to live their values, contribute in meaningful ways, get along with others, and be responsible members of society. Young people need to practice these skills in order to master them. Young people especially need adults and peers who demonstrate, teach and practice skills with them. They need adults and peers who watch how they are doing with their skills and who give them feedback along the way and who can let them make and learn from mistakes.
HERE ARE THE FACTS
Research shows the more personal skills young people have to interact with others and make decisions, the more likely they are to grow up healthy. Search Institute has identified five assets in the Social Competencies category crucial for helping young people: Planning and Decision Making, Interpersonal Competence, Cultural Competence, Resistance Skills, and Peaceful Conflict Resolution. Two of these assets—Planning and Decision Making, and Resistance Skills—focus on personal choice. The other three focus on healthy interpersonal relationships.
TIPS FOR BUILDING THESE ASSETS
Tolerance, negotiation and compromise, sensitivity to others’ feelings and needs, and appreciation of your own and others’ cultures are critical skills to teach and model. Help young people learn these skills by role-playing various social situations, following these steps: 1. Demonstrate the skill while the young person watches; 2. Do the skill together; 3. Let the young person do the skill alone while you watch; and 4. Provide feedback.
Social competencies are the life skills young people need to be independent and capable. Young people develop social competencies when you:
- Introduce them to new people and things;
- Model respectful behaviors by being kind to others; and
- Create opportunities for them to use their skills.
HOW CAN YOU HELP BUILD SOCIAL COMPETENCIES?
- In your home and family: Let your child do things by himself or herself, even if it’s not the way you would do it. Allow your child to make mistakes and learn from them.
- In your neighborhood and community: If there is a neighborhood disagreement, model the skills of negotiation and compromise to work toward a peaceful resolution.
- In your school or youth program: Encourage young people to plan with the use of agendas and calendars. Help them to learn and practice their planning and decision-making skills by engaging them in long-term projects. Teach them how to set short-term goals to keep their project on track and meet the final deadline.
Want to know more about Search Institute’s other seven asset categories or the 40 Developmental Assets and ideas for helping young people build them? Visit www.ecabnetwork.org
Developmental Assets® are positive factors within young people, families, communities, schools, and other settings that research has found to be important in promoting the healthy development of young people. Adapted from Instant Assets: 52 Short and Simple E-Mails for Sharing the Asset Message. Copyright © 2007 by Search Institute®, 877-240-7251; www.search-institute.org. This message may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial uses only (with this copyright line). All rights reserved.