Why children's soft skills are essential to a child's happiness in a new country

Why children's soft skills are essential

One of the most challenging issues facing international children moving to the UK is learning how to fit into a new school, make new friends with those of a different culture, and subsequently excel in their early years...

One of the biggest concerns for parents when deciding to make the move is how their children will cope and whether they will be happy.

It is essential for children to integrate as quickly as possible to secure the desired outcome and this is most likely achieved through attending school, play dates and birthday parties, and without their parents by their side.

Children thrive on boundaries and being taught from a very early age the appropriateness of their behavior, particularly in public. This can be difficult for parents even in their country of origin but, coupled with the move to a new country, it can often feel like an overwhelming task.

Embarrassment is the complete nemesis for a child’s confidence, and humiliation often occurs when a child does not know how to behave in a situation or have the soft skills to carry them through. In order for children to make the most of opportunities that come their way they need to show their best side in a variety of social situations and, as they grow older, professional environments.

Both adults and children build relationships with people that show consideration to others, and that they like and trust. To gain that inner confidence they must know what to do in any given situation. Skills like introducing themselves and others correctly and knowing what is appropriate to say creates the right impression when they are meeting new people, and ensures they are off to a good start in the relationship building process. For example, walking and sitting with good posture, being confident at the dining table and knowing how to shake hands with an adult makes them appear more mature and self-assured.

Whilst achieving high grades is essential to a child’s success, consideration should also be given to these all-important life skills. When examination standards are high across the board, it is these attributes that will set children apart from their peers; you could argue that they are as necessary as the grades themselves for securing a child’s opportunities.

Children can begin acquiring this knowledge from the age of five, and classes start with subjects such as meeting people for the first time, dining with confidence (such as what each piece of cutlery does and how to hold it), to learning the importance of respect and consideration in English society.

From the age of nine more detailed subjects can be taught such as making small talk with adults, eating difficult foreign foods, how to be a good guest and the importance of thank you notes to ensure they receive further invitations.

Once a child reaches the age of sixteen they should have a good foundation that can be built upon enabling them to prepare for the next stage of their lives, such as interviews, internships and networking with the aim of expanding their social and potential business network. After all, it is those all important contacts that can determine whether a young adult is made aware of, often hidden, career opportunities.

Children learn best when they are having fun and these classes aim to achieve this, as well as being an educational and learning experience.

5 Action Points for developing Children’s Etiquette:

  • Practice looking people in the eye when talking to them
  • Try not to fidget and practice keeping the spine straight when sitting and walking
  • Ensure their mouth is closed when they are eating
  • Learn how to hold cutlery correctly
  • Practice answering questions about themselves confidently


By Emma Dupont, Proprietor, Emma Dupont Etiquette