Specific Examples of Psychological Skills

  1. Productivity:

Doing useful work for one’s family, for example cleaning up after a meal, helping put silverware back into a drawer; taking trash out; putting things away after using them; washing dishes; cleaning floors; helping with laundry or putting laundry away; cutting grass; taking care of a pet; organizing one’s room; carrying groceries into the house, helping put groceries away; helping prepare meals; helping fix something that needs repair; raking leaves, shoveling snow, helping with any other chore.

Working on schoolwork, doing homework, doing extra drill on things to learn for school, taking turns reading aloud with someone, reading a book that wasn’t assigned, learning something by reading books or magazines etc. or on the internet, solving puzzles or problems that exercise the brain.

Working out, exercising.

Creating a work of art or building something.

Especially for young children: Sustaining attention by listening while someone reads to him or her, for a little longer than before; having a chat with one of their parents without having to run off to get into something else; playing with the same toys for a reasonably long time; paying attention to a play that someone puts on for him or her with toy people; telling a story, and staying on the topic for a reasonable time; working at a task longer than before. Practicing Using Language: Listening while someone reads them a story, having a chat with someone; asking a good question about something they are curious about; telling about things they have seen and done; talking back and forth with someone; using a longer sentence than before; using some new words.

  1. Joyousness:

Smiling or laughing about anything other than someone else’s bad fortune. Saying, “I like this,” or “This is fun,” or “I’m glad I get to do this,” or “Yay!” or any other celebratory comment. Liking doing something well enough to want to keep doing it. Seeming to enjoy a conversation. Looking enthusiastic and animated. Speaking with an enthusiastic or animated voice. Feeling proud of an accomplishment. Feeling proud of an act of kindness. Being able to tell about something that they are glad to have done. Seeming to feel good when reminded of something good they have done. Humor: Saying something funny, appreciating it and laughing when someone else says something funny; doing an imitation of something or someone that is funny but not derisive; imagining a silly situation and having fun with it; surprising someone with a trick that is not harmful.

  1. Kindness:

Helping someone do something, complimenting or congratulating someone, expressing thanks, being a good listener, teaching someone how to do something, forgiving someone who has harmed you, consoling someone who is sad, spending time with someone, keeping someone company; being cheerful or approving, being affectionate, giving or lending something, being assertive in a nice way, writing a nice note to someone. Saying “Thanks for the supper” to their parent; picking up something their mother drops and giving it to her; saying “Good morning” in a cheerful tone to a family member; speaking gently to a pet and petting the animal nicely; saying “That’s OK” in a gentle manner when a parent forgets to do something; saying “That’s interesting,” when a sibling mentions thoughts; saying “Don’t worry about it” in a gentle way when a sibling seems to feel bad about a mistake made in a game; giving a sibling a piece of dessert; saying “What have you been up to?” and listening nicely to their sibling when they tell them about their day; offering to help a parent carry something; saying “You’re welcome” in a gentle way when someone says “Thank you”; sharing a toy or other object with another person; patting someone on the back, affectionately; offering to push someone in the swing; offering to take turns, and letting someone else take the first turn; going up to someone and socializing in a nice way; smiling at someone.

  1. Honesty:

Acknowledging or reporting a mistake or failure; taking responsibility for a bad outcome; answering correctly when asked if something said was real-life or made up; answering correctly when asked about something they need to improve in; telling about a personal experience; reporting some feelings about something in an honest way; when asked if they are sure about something, reporting honestly. Dependability: doing something that was promised; keeping an appointment; giving back something that was borrowed.

  1. Fortitude

Saying “OK” in a nice way when they ask for something and can't get it; keeping cheerful when the rain spoils their plans to play outside with a friend; handling it without yelling when their sibling breaks one of the things they own; looking calmly for something they can’t find, without losing their temper; not yelling when they have to stop watching a television show to come to supper or to go out somewhere with their parent; being cool when their sibling grabs something out of their hand—getting it back, perhaps, but not yelling or hitting; being cheerful when they don't get a present that they have asked for; being cheerful when they have to come inside; handling it when they have to quit a video game or some other electronic entertainment. Enjoying Aloneness: Being OK being alone when their parents pay attention to a sibling; paying attention to something else when a parent is on the phone; letting their parents talk to each other for a while without interrupting; watching what some peers are doing with each other, without butting in immediately; letting a sibling play with something, and get the parent’s attention, without taking that thing away; drawing a parent’s attention to a sibling in a favorable way; letting a parent read or write or lie down and rest without interrupting, being able to handle it if some peers do not want them participating in an activity. Handling mistakes and failures: In a game, failing to make a goal or win a point etc. without getting too upset; losing a game without getting discouraged; failing to do something that is tried, and then working harder rather than giving up; being corrected for something, and then making an effort to do better; remembering a previous time he made a mistake, and saying “This time I won’t (or will) do X, because I learned from the last time”; talking out loud to himself when he has made a mistake or failure, and using "listing options and choosing."

6a. Good individual decisions:

Thinking before acting; saying out loud, “Let me think about this”; saying out loud, “What options do I have here?”; talking about a decision and listing options; talking about a decision and mentioning the pros and cons of an option; saying that they were glad to have chosen one action rather than another, for a good reason; looking up some information helpful in making a decision; saying “I’ll have to think about that” rather than deciding right away with a difficult and important decision; making a random decision right away with a very unimportant decision; doing any action that is wiser than an alternative.

6b. Good joint decisions or conflict resolution:

Taking turns with someone; asking to use something when someone else is done with it; talking calmly with someone about what the two people should do; listening carefully to someone else’s point of view about a problem the two people are trying to solve; doing a reflection of what the other person has said; stating clearly and calmly what they want; refusing to go along with someone else when that's appropriate; deciding to go along with someone else when that's appropriate; thinking of a creative option for a joint decision; thinking of compromise options for resolving a conflict.

  1. Nonviolence:

Not hitting back when a sibling pushes or hits; not hitting when someone does a provocation; not getting into a fight when the opportunity is there; going for x length of time without any violent act; making a comment in favor of nonviolence; choosing not to watch a violent movie or TV show or play a violent video game; reading about nonviolence; singing a nonviolence song.

  1. Respectful Talk:

Using tones of approval; using approving facial expressions while talking. Saying “Good morning,” or “Welcome home,” or “I’m glad to see you,” or “Hi” in an enthusiastic tone of voice. Saying “Please,” “Thank you for doing that,” “You’re welcome!” or “Excuse me, please.” Saying things like, “Could I ask you to move a little?” instead of “Get out of my way.” Saying things like, “Would you mind not doing that?” instead of “Quit doing that!” Saying things like, “Here’s another way of looking at it,” rather than “You’re totally wrong.” Saying something like, “Here’s another option,” instead of “That’s a stupid idea.”

  1. Friendship-Building:

Social initiations: Watching some peers do whatever they’re doing before joining in with them; paying attention to what peers are paying attention to rather than drawing attention to themselves; starting to socialize in any way that does not irritate the peer; saying “Hi” to a peer they know; introducing themselves to a peer they don’t know; asking if some peers would like another participant in an activity; finding someone who is lonely, and talking or playing with that person; offering to share something with a peer, as a way of getting interaction started; asking a question about something a peer is doing, as a way of getting interaction started; inviting people to do things with them. Social conversation: Figuring out how to find a topic to talk with someone about, that both can be interested in; talking with another person in an interesting way; telling about their own experience; following up on what someone else has said by asking a question; following up on what someone else has said by making a statement about it; doing reflections to confirm understanding of what the other person said; doing “facilitations” (like uh huh, yes... I see.... OK!) to demonstrate that they are listening and encourage the other to continue; giving positive feedback about what the other person has said or done; using enthusiastic and approving tones of voice during a conversation; seeming to enjoy a social conversation; talking about not-very-personal things when just getting to know a person; talking about more personal things with someone he knows really well and trusts; avoiding talking too long without stopping to give the other person a chance; having enough to say in a conversation; smiling or laughing or nodding or giving other clues of enjoying a conversation; choosing to spend time talking with someone rather than watching TV or playing video games. Non-bossiness, Letting the other do what they want: Letting the other have or use something without taking it away from them; responding to the other’s suggestion of “Let’s do this” by saying “OK!”; responding to the other’s question of “May I do this?” by saying “Sure!”; responding to the other’s looking over their shoulder at something they are doing by tolerating it, rather than asking the other to go away; responding to a sibling's tapping lightly on their knee by tolerating it rather than bossing the sibling to quit doing it; letting a sibling show off without telling them not to be such a show-off; letting a friend play with something that they are not particularly interested in playing with, without telling the friend to put it down and play with something else.

For young folks doing dramatic play or older folks doing improvisational drama: letting the other person direct the course of the plot for a while; in dramatic play, when the other person says something like “Pretend this is a lake” or “Pretend that this is a goat,” going along with the suggestion.

  1. Self-discipline:

Doing chores, doing school work, starting work early; keeping concentrating on school work for a long time; participating in a tutoring session, exercising hard, spending time organizing and putting away your things; doing unpleasant but important work; going to bed early; getting up on time; leaving for school on time or early; avoiding high-calorie food if one is overweight; eating nutritious food such as vegetables and salad; resisting impulses to waste money; working on chores; resisting social pressure from peers to do unwise things; deciding not to waste time on TV or video games; deciding to read something educational; practicing a musical instrument; practicing a sports skill; practicing an academic skill; practicing handling a feared situation if one has unrealistic fears; talking about something unpleasant but useful to talk about; resisting pressure to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or do drugs; remembering to do things like take care of teeth; keeping track of an appointment with someone; planning ahead so as to get to an appointment early or on time; writing down school assignments; organizing the papers needed for school; resisting the urge to be aggressive or yell at someone; resisting urges for sexual activity that could get one into trouble; staying cool when one is tempted to “freak out”; finishing a project even though it gets boring; handling waiting time well; choosing to do something unpleasant in order to achieve a goal; choosing to gradually make some activity more pleasant because it is necessary to achieve a goal.

  1. Loyalty:

Sticking up for a friend, not wanting to lose touch with someone, calling up an extended family member to say hi, looking out for the welfare of a sibling, disagreeing with people who put down a sibling or other family member, disagreeing with people who put down a good friend, inviting a friend to get together, writing a letter to a friend or family member; remembering someone’s birthday; helping out a friend or family member when the going gets rough, for example when the person is sick or having trouble of some sort.

  1. Conservation:

Having the concept of using time well versus wasting time; choosing not to waste time. Choosing to spend waiting time doing something useful. Choosing to get some work done rather than playing video games. Choosing to think about something useful or interesting rather than wasting time being bored. Turning lights out to save energy; turning other appliances off; not buying things that aren’t necessary; saving money rather than wasting it; choosing not to spend money on junk food; being interested in having a bank or brokerage account; being interested in ending pollution; wanting to keep using an old thing instead of buying a new one.

  1. Self-care:

Brushing teeth; washing hands before eating; exercising; eating nutritious food; for someone underweight, eating a big meal; for someone overweight, eating a small meal; not smoking; making a comment not in favor of smoking; not drinking alcohol; making a comment not in favor of drinking alcohol; not using recreational drugs; making a comment in favor of not using recreational drugs; buckling seat belt; putting helmet on before cycling, skating, etc.; not listening to loud music (to keep from damaging hearing); avoiding getting sunburned; going to bed at a regular time; getting up in the morning at a regular time; eating fruits and vegetables; riding a bike in a non-risky way; staying away from the edges of cliffs; taking vitamins or any medicines that have been prescribed by a doctor, in the right amounts. Practicing relaxing the muscles, practicing meditation by observing what comes to mind, meditating on the word one, meditating on acts of kindness, doing the good will meditation, doing the psychological skills meditation, doing the pleasant dreams exercise, reading inspirational writings.

  1. Compliance:

Coming quickly in response to the command, “It’s time to go; please come with me now”; saying “OK” without arguing when asked to go to bed; keeping the voice low when a family member requests; following rules, for example a “no throwing the football inside” rule; leaving something alone that their parent asks them not to touch; playing gently with their friend after their mother tells them to stop wrestling, coming when their mother says “Come with me”; getting dressed without problems when asked to do so; brushing teeth when asked to do so; following the rule of staying at the table during a meal; turning the television off, or not turning it back on once it is turned off, as requested; stopping doing something annoying when requested to.

  1. Positive Fantasy Rehearsal:

Doing a fantasy rehearsal of one of their high priority skills; reading a fantasy rehearsal of a psychological skill; purposely reading about or watching a positive model; doing fantasy rehearsal to help with a performance such as music or public speaking or a sport. Avoiding violent or rude models presented in movies or TV shows or video games.

  1. Courage:

Doing something that is uncomfortable or scary to do but nonetheless the right thing to do; trying an activity they have never tried before; getting to know people they have never met before; venturing the answer to a question raised in a group, when they are not very sure of the answer; doing something in the dark; doing something that is not dangerous that they were inhibited about doing at some point in the past; doing something that they had an unrealistic fear of or aversion to or avoidance of; working on reducing unrealistic fears or aversions.