How to Teach your Kids Real-Life Social Skills

INSIDE: Why Summer is for More Than Just Bike Rides, Swimming, BBQ’s, and S’mores

A Surprising Summer Bucket-List

As this years summer winds down, I am in awe at how little we have accomplished this year. We went into the summer with grandiose plans and everyone made a list. Similar to our bucket lists of past summers.

However, we never really focused on checking anything off!

My bucket list consisted of the following:

  • Read
  • Blog
  • Learn
  • Try something new
  • California

My kids’ lists were all over the place…

bucket list, kids, summer

I mean I guess we did accomplish most of these activities. The only ones we didn’t cover were the zoo, museums, cooking class, horse back riding, and dance class.

So, yeah…I guess we did cross off most things from this list, without even realizing it!

We went on an amazing family vacation. Two vacations actually, back-to-back! It was awesome. We ate more ice-cream and fro-yo than any family of five should ever eat.

We spent lots of time at the beaches of Wisconsin, Chicago, and California.

My kids gained some freedom and rode around town with friends (this was a tough one for me). And they made some incredible memories with friends and each other.

But you want to know what they really gained this summer? It was something I didn’t plan on, but I am so glad I noticed it in action.

kids learning social skills, social-emotional learning

My Kids Gained Valuable, Real-Life Social Skills

Without any help from me, my kids learned how to work through lots of personal and social issues. Okay, you busted me! I did help them, but only minimally or when someone was in danger or in risk of getting hurt.

  • They learned how to say what they wanted.
  • They learned how to listen to each other and really hear the other person.
  • They are still working on respectfully disagreeing, so don’t think they are experts just yet, but they are working on it!
  • They practiced compromising and coming up with a plan for playing together.
  • They were forced to deal with losing another loved one and walking down memory lane again as we remembered my Grandma Dodo, my second grandmother to pass away this year.
  • They improved their relationship building skills.
  • They worked on calling friends and leaving messages for them, not just texts.
  • They used non-verbal & verbal skills along with other skills like sharing, getting somebody’s attention appropriately, voice volume and tone, following rules or directions, taking turns,  being responsible and showing empathy.

Here’s How!

And you want to know how they did all that?

They did all that by being normal “I’m so bored” kids. Yes, you heard me right, boredness taught them all that.

By being bored, they were forced to communicate with each other and “find things to do” and that taught them how to work together becuase they had to compromise, stay calm, and actively listen to each other.

Let me tell you, it’s not always easy for a 6 year old girl, 10 year old boy and 11 year old girl to find things to do together.  Sprinkle in a few extra friends and it’s a recipe for disaster at my house!

They were given time to be alone and just be. Sometimes they choose the expected, like a screen…but other times they choose toys, paints, books, and… slime. (When will the slime craze end??)

Other times they played or sang their music, put on shows, and wailed on pianos, yukuleles, and guitars. Of course, that presented issues when somebody else in the house was playing something quietly.

My kids made lots of messes. Some I pre-approved and others I did not, but they had fun and could work on these skills while making “memories” as my mom called our messes growing up.

They built 750 piece puzzles, made sweet treats from scratch, and packed picnics…all without hurting each other. Now, that takes some serious communication and sometimes anger management since all my kids like to be “in control” a.k.a. “leaders”!

In their late night meanderings between the neighbors and my house, they learned how-to: present an argument (ex: wanting a sleepover), back it up with evidence, and then seal the deal with puppy dog eyes. I might have three future lawyers at this pace!

My kids learned the power of being a gracious guest and not overstaying their welcome and how to say thank-you in a heartfelt way when it counts.

Why THIS Matters

This matters because we need kids to be able to communicate effectively and safely navigate their world using appropriate social skills. This helps them learn how to make friends, manage their emotions, and solve problems. And that is a little more important to me than entertaining them this summer by crossing things off their bucket lists.



While we were busy having a lazy summer, my kids learned how to be interactive and caring humans in our cosmos. They learned how to stand up for themselves and advocate for one another. They learned how to handle their emotions and say what they wanted without screaming, most of the time that is.

My kids made memories that not only secured a lifetime of inside jokes, but they learned how to be a community of kids that care. Kids that communicate effectively. Kids that can make friends.

And to me, as their mom and as a teacher, there is nothing better than that! So, while you look over your summer bucket list accomplishments, what do you see? Did you seek opportunities for your kids other than actvities and playdates?

There are no happy accidents.








You can check out my other writings on Full Time Mom, 30Seconds, and SheSavvy. Follow me on Twitter at @KimKusiciel or @nohappyaccident.

Have you seen my Free Set of Monthly Mantras for Moms? Download it by clicking here!

moms, overwhelmed, self-care, mantras

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