This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Holiday Social Skills for Teens: Special Replay. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
Holidays bring church and homeschool parties, family get-togethers. Teens often feel awkward at these events. They are too young to be regarded as the “little kids” and not quite old enough to be considered “adults”. How does a teen handle being a teen at holiday events?
Sabrina, Vicki and Kym are sharing social skills tips for building for confidence and poise during the holidays (and afterwards)! Not only that, as teens learn and practice holiday social skills, they can count some hours as a life skills or life preparation elective! That is because all of life is education!
How to build social skills for teens during the holidays
Why are social skills during the holidays important? The skills teens can practice during holiday events are skills they will use in adulting, such as:
- Social skills are needed at work events when they are starting their careers
- They are useful in events where they will be meeting the families of a future “significant other”
- Social events at churches, parties and other get togethers call for good social skills
- For us introverts, social events happen, so social skills help us feel better
Skill #1: Help others feel welcome
Even if you are shy, find someone who is not being talked to. Smile, say “hi” and ask a question.
- This means that planning ahead to memorize three or four questions you can ask people at the event.
- If you can, try to circulate and talk to as many people in the room.
- Even if you are not hosting the event, it is polite to at least greet each person (at least those who are not being talked to).
Vicki always told her kids that their role at an event is to be “facilitator”- that is, the one who facilitates folks feeling welcome at the event.
Skill #2: Have questions to ask different kinds of people
For grandparents, aunts and uncles, you can ask nostalgia-type questions, such as:
- What was your favorite Christmas as a child
- Do you remember any big Christmas disasters?
- Ask, even if you have heard the stories before!
- Also, ask questions that might tie-in to something they learned in their history course, such as:
- Hey, Grandpa, we were learning about the Vietnam War in history. Could you tell me what being in the military at that time was like?
Your teens can collect these stories and pick one for a cool writing assignment: Holiday Family Narrative.
Skill #3: Sometimes you do not need questions you need a silly repartee
Some people communicate friendliness by teasing or silly “insults”. This kind of connecting can be uncomfortable for shy teens or for teens who are not used to this kind of silliness. If your teen will be exposed to this kind of humor, teach them to smile and shrug or practice a lighthearted insult back.
However, if your teen enjoys the silly insults but will be in a new group of people or relatives they do not see often, remind them that repartee is for close friends in most situations. Hold off until you can measure the personalities in the room.
Skill #4: Talk to the little ones
One of the best ways to make friends in new or infrequent social situations, is to get know the little kids in the room. If you get down on their level (sit on the floor or on a low chair so you are close to eye level). Then chat with them. Pretty soon you will have made friends with them (which makes them SO happy) AND it will often draw other big people over to join the conversation.
Skill #5: Bring a game
Have a simple card game or activity that several people can do together. When you are sharing an experience with someone (even if it is cheesy), the conversations come naturally. Then you have an automatic new friendship.
Skill #6: Help the host and hostess
Go to the folks in charge and ask:
- What do you need carried or set up?
- Is there something I can do to help?
- What can I do to help out?
Being helpful is good for you AND gives you a break from the socializing. However, the shared experience of working together makes a good, friendly connection. (This is a powerful networking experience for adulting.)
Skill #7: For extraverts, how do you keep the conversations balanced
Some extraverts LOVE to talk (some are less talkative). For the talkers remember Kym’s rule of thumb:
Be an attentive talker AND an attentive listener.
Skill #8: Watch the non-verbals
Teach teens to watch non-verbals in others. They can learn by observing:
- Does the fidgeting mean that Aunt Sally is irritated with Grandma’s embarrassing stories of her childhood?
- How about staring off into space or rolling eyes when Grandpa launches into the same story he always tells?
This is good practice. When they watch others’ non-verbals during conversations, they can be more aware of non-verbals in their own conversations.
Skill #9: Practice active listening
Help teens learn active listening skills for when the relatives are telling them stories. Here are a few:
- Show you are listening by nodding your head, saying “hmm” or repeating back part of the last thing they said
- Make eye contact with the speaker on a regular basis
Skill #10: That’s really hard
When someone is complaining about how hard their life is. Try some non-committal things to say:
- That’s really hard
- I’ll say…
- Man, that was something!
Skill #11: When dinner is called
When Grandma calls to say dinner is ready, empower teens to:
- Stand up but wait
- Let the older folks go to the dinner table next
- Then let the little ones go next
- If there is a buffet set up, ask if anyone needs help with the little one’s food
- Do not hog any particular dish (make sure you only take a reasonable amount, even if you LOVE Grandma’s turnips)
- Absolutely do not say, “Ewwww”…ever at dinner at someone else’s house
Skill #12: Use digital etiquette
Help teens to practice good manners. Although it might be irritating, older generations often do not understand that teens are not trying to be rude if they are on their phones. Practice, then, mercy towards the old folks.
- Keep your digital devices in your pocket for most of the event. You can check it here or there, but do not spend extended time on it.
- Be careful what you share on social media about the event.
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.- Thumper
When you talk to your teens ahead of time, you give your teens the self-confidence boosts they need. They will also be growing good adulting skills!
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