Is Your Child “Likeable”?
Of course you like your child. But what do their peers think? It turns out their “likeability” may be an important, yet overlooked, factor that can portend later success.
A number of longitudinal studies have come to this conclusion. Kids who are considered to be likeable in childhood – as rated by their peers – are more likely to have better adult outcomes. They achieve more academic success, a higher occupational status, and experience less psychological problems.
What exactly is likeability? Researchers look at a few key abilities, especially in the early school years:
- Can a child make friends easily?
- Do other kids like playing with a child?
Keep in mind that likeability shouldn’t be equated with being the “most popular.” We are talking about kids who, across the board, are perceived by other kids as someone they like to be around (or, put another way, don’t mind being around). Importantly, the most telling picture comes from peer ratings gathered in school, rather than a child’s self-perceptions. The kids who spend their day hanging out with your kid can form an aggregate perception that offers a pretty good indicator of social skills that are predictive of later adaptive functioning.
What skills should you foster to help your child be likeable? There are few things to keep in mind:
- Kids need to know how to let others “hold the floor” – constantly interrupting, blurting out, and talking only about themselves undermines likeability
- Kids need to know how to play cooperatively – how to take turns, work together, and listen to other points of view
- Kids should know how to be gracious – they should share in others’ joy and be a good sport
- Kids should know how to bring themselves to their interactions with others – being overly withdrawn is not an asset with peers
- Kids should know how to be positive – having enthusiasm is much more appealing than being the naysayer
This is a short list of some of the good social skills every kid can have. While it’s a reality that kids have very different personalities, the fact is all these different personalities can still be expressed using fundamental social skills. Other people like to be around people who have these attributes. Likeability goes a long way, in the short and long term of life.
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Tags: Childhood Likeability, Childhood Predictors Adult Success, Health, Kids Health, longitudinal studies, Peer Relations | Categories: Behavior, Health, Must Read, Parenting, Red-Hot Parenting, Relationships