I often get on tangents about the importance of teaching social skills to youth and strengthening their positive emotional development. Intelligence alone can be very dangerous if it is not coupled with basic people skills and emotional restraint. If you are not convinced of this fact, I encourage you to watch an exchange or two from any of the presidential debates. Unfortunately, I fear my body of evidence will continue to mount throughout this entire election cycle, which should disturb us for several reasons.

Novelty garners attention, and after what I have seen, I feel confident young people are listening and watching. I also believe modeled behaviors are internalized, so it concerns me what adult behaviors are communicating to children. Specifically, I wonder what children are learning by watching our, the adult onlookers, behaviors. We can’t control the actions of others, but we can choose the way in which we respond to any given situation. So, keep in mind some of the lessons many of our candidates seem to have forgotten:

  • Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  • Disagree, but do so respectfully.
  • Think before you speak.
  • Control your anger.
  • Take the high road.
  • Respect differences.

When I was growing up I remember learning about social skills from Gallant and Goofus, who were characters in the magazine Highlights. Gallant showed us the right way to behave and Goofus provided the opposite. I pray parents and teachers alike can provide continuous Gallant examples balancing out the many Goofus behaviors our politicians are sure to provide over the course of the next eight or so months.