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How to Teach Your Kids the Most Important Soft Skills That Aren’t Taught in Schools

How to Teach Your Kids the Most Important Soft Skills That Aren’t Taught in Schools

Ever ask a teenager a question and they shove their hands in their pockets, avert their eyes and mumble some incoherent answer. It makes you irritated, maybe even suspicious, but before you jump to any conclusions, that teen may not have learned the soft skills necessary for childhood development. These set of interpersonal skills are usually not taught in schools, but learning them in childhood can prevent future problems.

Unlike hard skills, like math, reading, science and social studies, soft skills revolve around communication, relating with others, and self discipline. Like balancing a check book and figuring out a mortgage rate, these essential skills are usually learned outside the classroom from their families and peers. Sometimes these necessary soft skills aren’t learned at all.

The Soft Skills They Won’t Teach You in School

Did you think that self-confident class president learned how to schmooze his way to victory from his history class? More than likely, he learned from mimicking a family member or through a mentor. But just what exactly are these soft skills[1]?

Social Skills

Social skills may include greeting adults and peers and interaction with people outside their immediate family, peers, and adults.

Manners

Please, thank you, you’re welcome, yes ma’am, no sir. Polite manners are all soft skills that usually aren’t addressed in the school curriculum. Ever hold the door open for someone? Who taught you to do that?

Communication

How to speak to someone. How to get your point across, clear and concise, with no mumbling, no hands over the mouth, or averted eyes and slouched posture.

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Listening

Listening is as important as communicating, and due to our reliance on electronics, this soft skill has fallen behind for many.

Building rapport

Making friends and alliances. Again, due to our technology, we rely more on texting than face to face communication, which is necessary to build good rapport with others.

Empathy

Seeing things from another person’s perspective. When you face an issue from another person’s point of view, you are less likely to barge through that situation without concern of how the outcome may affect others.

Problem Solving

Sure, you learn what 2y is in Algebra, but there are so many real life scenarios that school kids aren’t usually prepared for – like what to do when the power runs out or how to gather help from fellow employees on a difficult task. Employers often look for independent problem solvers[2].

Self Control

Centering around sharing, controlling emotions, such as angry outbursts or even interrupting people, self-control is a vital soft skill that should be taught from an early age.

Self Esteem/Self-Confidence

No one is born charismatic and overflowing with high self esteem. This comes from learning to be happy with yourself and realizing that ‘you are enough.

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How You Can Teach Your Children Soft Skills

You taught your kids their ABC’s, how to remember their address and phone number, and how to ride a bike and now you have to teach them soft skills?! Before you tear your hair out, children learn a lot of soft skills by example. It’s easy to incorporate them into your daily life – in fact you may already do most of them.

A Trick to Making Kids Learn Soft Skills

Do you find yourself saying: “Don’t slouch. Don’t mumble!” Kids tend to drop that ‘not’ out of everything – so instead of telling them what NOT to do, instead guide them towards what they should do: Stand tall. Speak clearly.

Learning Good Manners

You don’t have to send your kids to etiquette school to learn good manners. Accentuate manners within your life. Always say please and thank you. Hold the door open for people and use ‘excuse me’ and ‘you’re welcome.’ And expect your children to follow suit.

Communicating and Building Good Rapport

Have your kids look directly at the person with whom they are communicating. Ear buds out of ears. Cellphone tucked away in their pocket. They should focus on the person and really listen and respond appropriately. This will aid them to build good rapport with people as well. If they sit in enough adult conversations – with their electronics confiscated -, they will become aware of the give and take in good conversations.

A Lesson in Someone Else’s Shoes

All kids should learn a little empathy. Teens all too often shout out ‘get a job’ to a homeless man on the street corner and call other kids names, without even thinking there might be a story behind their situation. The girl who smells at school may be homeless and without running water. That beggar on the corner may be a decorated veteran out on his luck.

Expose your children to other people’s lives. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate items to the Salvation Army, adopt a kid for Christmas, or help put together food baskets for needy families over the holidays and deliver them together.

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Real World Problem Solving

Involving your child in the day to day problems of life can help build their problem solving skills. Clean up messes together, replace batteries in things, catch a fish, teach them how to run the washing machine and expect them to help washing up.

You can also try Geo-caching, a world-wide treasure hunt. Put them in charge of the GPS and directing the way. Alternately, you can test skills in an Escape Room – a popular trend where a handful of people must team up to solve a series of puzzles and riddles in order to ‘escape’ before the measured time is up.

Taking Control of Themselves

By far one of the most vital soft skills, self-control does not come easy for children. They have to learn no is no and how to share. Start them young on this. Arrange play dates with friends or join a local parenting group with other parents and their children.

It’s hard for some kids to see other kids playing with their toys, so stay alert, but eventually, when they realize the other child isn’t going to take off with their favorite toy truck, they may just get the picture.

Try not to give in to a temper tantrum and when faced with an angry child, a time out is a good idea and break out the bubbles. Blowing bubbles makes it hard for kids to stay focused on their anger.

You may want to include short meditation (1-3 minutes) into their daily routine to keep them calm.

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Feeling Good About Themselves

Kids all too often use things like good grades and popularity as metrics to measure their self-esteem. That’s like trying to shoot a harpoon to the moon – you’ll always fall short of that goal. One day there will be a more popular kid in school, or they’ll face a D on a test or worse. They need to be taught those things really don’t matter in the long run.

If your child gets a bad grade, tell them “it happens” and try not to make a big deal about it.

Have adventures with your kids to build their self esteem and lift their self confidence, like rock climbing, biking, camping or kayaking a river. Set a goal and achieve it together.

Once they start achieving goals outside of the classroom, they may realize that D on the math test was not such a big deal, or so and so may be more popular but heck, they just kayaked an intermediate run!

Your kids may not be taught soft skills in the classroom, but by teaching them these essential skills yourself, and incorporating them into your daily lives, you may find yourself connecting with your kids over stuff that really matters.

Reference

[1]Interpersonalskillsonline.com: More Soft Skills
[2]Childtrends.org: 5 Soft Skills That Help Youth Succeed at Work

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Sally White

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Published on November 28, 2018

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

So how to do meditation?

The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

  • Living things, such as plants
  • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
  • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
  • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
  • Furniture away from walls
  • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
  • Incense or something else that smells good
  • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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  1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
  3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
  4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
  5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
[2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
[3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
[4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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