Children practice social skills every day, but there’s something particularly intense about holidays, a weekend away, or even a day out, which makes them an ideal opportunity for learning. Here’s how to make the most of the time you spend on holiday to help build your child’s confidence, empathy and respect.
Whether at the accommodation or a restaurant, holidays present lots of opportunities for us to model kind behaviour. Make a really conscious effort to show your child how nice it is to be nice, from smiling at staff to praising the food.
Help grow your child’s confidence
Children are just starting out in the complex world of relationships, and they need our help. Find moments to help them practice social skills, such as ordering food or saying hello to someone new. Even if you’re in a country which speaks a language your child isn’t familiar with, a few key phrases will set them well on their way and will build their confidence.
Sometimes on holiday we come across people who can seem pretty grumpy or uninterested! Rather than criticising them, help your child to build empathy by puzzling out together why that person might be behaving that way. Of course, you won’t know the real answer, but by coming up with different possibilities, you can help your child to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and realise that we all can feel cross or bored sometimes. The feelings might feel bad to us, but they don’t make us bad people.
Manage your own emotions
It’s very easy to let our emotions get the better of us on holiday. Wonderful as holidays can be, they can also make us feel tired, hot, cold, frustrated…and then even more cross because we’re ‘supposed’ to be having a nice time! The ideal thing to do is to welcome these emotions and to show your child how you (and they) can manage them. For example, you might show them how to take deep breaths when they’re angry, or cuddle a favourite toy when they’re sad.
If you’ve gone away to a country and culture that’s different from your own, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate difference. Look up local traditions or customs, encourage your child to try new foods, and remind them how brilliant it is that not everybody is the same.
If they’ve got questions, answer them honestly and accurately, and always check in with your own language to make sure it isn’t prejudiced or derogatory.
The more you celebrate difference yourself, the more your child will see diversity for the wonderful thing that it is.
Looking to go away on holiday? We’ve partnered with Charitable Travel so you can give a free donation to Kidscape when you book. At no extra cost to you, you can help to challenge bullying. For more information, see here.