While teaching a college course, public relations guru Faye de Muyshondt realized that many of her students were entering adulthood without having developed the social skills that are crucial to success and self-esteem. To bridge that gap, she founded socialsklz:-), which offers social workshops to children and young adults. We spoke with Faye about reframing the way parents think about teaching children social skills, and she shared a fun, etiquette-related white lie.
Congrats on the success of socialsklz : -)! What inspired you to start your company?
Thank you! I started it inadvertently over a decade ago while teaching at New York University. I realized that my students, who’d be heading off to the work force, would benefit tremendously from a workshop on social interaction and communication skills— the very skills I taught in my professional world when I media-trained clients.
I quickly saw how students not only enjoyed the workshops, but how they built confidence and self-esteem. Years later, I’d often hear back on how much those lessons helped them during the interview process and in the workplace. I wondered why we weren’t teaching people these skills. Soon, I began volunteering the workshops in NYC public schools. I realized that the same workshops (with age appropriate modifications) could be taught to teens and elementary aged children. Momentum built and I began offering workshops on weekends in my conference room for the PR business I had in Union Square.
What’s one thing parents can do to help young kids learn proper social skills?
It’s imperative to not assume that these skills get “picked up” along the way. For every child, we should consider teaching these skills just as we do swimming, soccer or violin. We can’t count on simply correcting kids in a social setting, which turns into an awkward and embarrassing moment. And finally, send your child to a workshop! We send our children out for so many other “lessons” that they often use for a short period of their lives, but they’ll use these skills EVERY SINGLE DAY for the rest of their lives.
If you could hand off one chore to someone else each day, what would it be?
There are so many, but I’d love to hand off the incessant organizing and tidying that’s necessary to keep order in a busy household.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax and unwind?
Hang out with my family on the couch OR walk my sweet pooch, LuLu.
What is your best parenting hack?
My timer. While it’s not necessarily a hack, it’s something I use non-stop for everyday duties to keep me on schedule, for cooking and getting us places on time. I have a timer in most rooms of our home.
What is the best white lie that you’ve told your child?
That at the security check in the airport they’re checking for eye contact, a smile and good body language! Use all three and you pass through!
If you could describe motherhood/fatherhood in one word, what would it be?
Expect the unexpected!
What’s one moment in your motherhood journey that has made you proud?
Having my daughter attend her first socialsklz:-) workshop (she needed to be at least four). My work life has been a huge part of her life, since she’d come to the office, attended book signings and talks, and being close with the socialsklz team, and she’d been dying to attend a workshop. I felt an enormous sense of pride in seeing her joy at attending something I’d created!
What is one piece of advice you want to pass along to your children?
Good manners NEVER go out of style.
What is one piece of advice you would pass along to other moms?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. While I still have to work on that daily, I recognize that I don’t have to be operating at 120 percent with everything—
nor can I. It’s okay to be status quo in many things and then put the 120 percent into what really matters to my family and I. Identify what really matters to YOU and post them someplace you’ll see each day.
How do you tackle the work/life balance?
It’s never easy, especially with a husband who travels all week, but I have flexibility in my schedule, and after a long stretch of childcare hurdles, we found a truly wonderful nanny who has been a godsend in our lives.
What was the last book you read?
I read constantly via AUDIBLE whenever I’m in transit. Currently I’m reading American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by Nancy Jo Sales.
Favorite Beauty Product:
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What is on your DVR?
Peppa Pig, Dora, Sponge Bob and the last segment I did on the Today Show.
Favorite Kids Store:
All Together Now (Mount Kisco)