Communication is an essential life skill. Children aren't born knowing how to successfully engage in social situations, so as parents it's our job to teach them.

There are many ways to help kids learn what good communication skills are — and aren't. Practice solid communicating when talking with your son or daughter. When your child sees you interacting with other adults, be a positive role model. Finally, talk to your child about why effective communication skills are important.

Don't let shyness or age become an excuse. Even introverted and young kids can start learning basic positive communication skills, such as saying hello and making eye contact. As kids grow older they can adopt advanced skills as different social settings begin forming.

Take the opportunity to teach these communication skills that your child should learn to help successfully navigate conversations in the future.

1. Say Hello

Even better, say hello first. Being the first to greet someone shows enthusiasm.

2. Make and Maintain Eye Contact

Looking someone in the eye when speaking or being spoken to shows interest. This is especially important in today's world where multitasking seems to mean conversing while checking your phone.

3. Listen to Others

Ask questions about the story being shared. Use effective non-verbal skills, such as head nods, to show you're paying attention.

4. Engage in Conversation (Ask and Answer Questions)

Don't be the person who monopolizes the entire conversation. Conversely, don't be that person who doesn't participate at all. Conversation is a two-way street.

5. Avoid Interrupting

This relates to self-control, which all young kids have a hard time maintaining. Practice the behavior when you're engaged in conversation. Additionally, politely ask your child to wait her turn when she interrupts someone.

6. Control Inappropriate Nonverbal Skills

Eye rolls, grimaces, hair pulling, checking phones or fingernail picking are examples of rude nonverbal cues. Learning how to be tactful in social situations is important and nonverbal communication plays a big role.

7. Know When and How to Exit a Conversation

It's rude to leave a group when someone is in the middle of a story (no matter how dry the topic is). Waiting until a break in the conversation, followed by a polite "excuse me" works better.

Believe it or not, in the blink of an eye your toddler will someday find himself in social situations where effective communication skills are critical (school projects, college presentations, job interviews). Setting a solid foundation now will help him succeed when those days are here.