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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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Last Updated on February 28, 2019

The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

The Desire to Be Liked Will End You up Feeling More Rejected

Admit it, you feel good when other people think you’re nice. Maybe you were complimented by a stranger saying that you had a nice outfit. You felt good about yourself and you were happy for the rest of the day.

    We all like to feel liked, whether by a stranger or a loved one. It makes you feel valued and that feeling can be addictive. But when the high wears off and you no longer have validation that someone thinks you’re a good, sweet person, you may feel insecure and lacking. While wanting others to like you isn’t in itself a bad thing, it can be like a disease when you feel that you constantly need to be liked by others.

    Humans are wired to want to be liked.

    It’s human nature to seek approval from others. In ancient times, we needed acceptance to survive. Humans are social animals and we need to bond with others and form a community to survive. If we are not liked by others, we will be left out.

    Babies are born to be cute and be liked by adults.

      The large rounded head, big forehead, large eyes, chubby cheeks, and a rounded body. Babies can’t survive without an adult taking care of them. It’s vital for adults to find babies lovely to pay attention to them and divert energy towards them.[1]

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      Recognitions have always been given by others.

        From the time you were a child, whether at school or at home, you have been receiving recognition from external parties. For instance, you received grades from teachers, and if you wanted something, you needed approval from your parents. We’ve learned to get what we want by catering to other people’s expectations. Maybe you wanted to get a higher grade in art so you’d be more attentive in art classes than others to impress your teacher. Your teacher would have a generally good impression on you and would likely to give you a higher grade.

        When you grow up, it’s no different. Perhaps you are desperate to get your work done so you do things that your manager would approve. Or maybe you try to impress your date by doing things they like but you don’t really like.

        Facebook and Instagram have only made things worse. People posting their photos and sharing about their life on Instagram just to feels so good to get more likes and attention.

        Being liked becomes essential to reaching desires.

          We start to get hyper focused on how others see us, and it’s easy to imagine having the spotlight on you at all time. People see you and they take an interest in you. This feels good. In turn, you start doing more things that bring you more attention. It’s all positive until you do something they don’t like and you receive criticism. When this happens, you spiral because you’ve lost the feeling of acceptance.

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          But the reality is this is all just perception. Humans, as a species, are selfish. We are all just looking at ourselves; we only perceive others are giving us their focus. Even for those who please others are actually focusing on making themselves feel good. It’s like an optical illusion for your ego.

            The desire to be liked is an endless chase.

              Aiming to please others in order to feel better will exhaust you because you can never catch up with others’ expectation.

              The ideal image will always change.

              It used to be ideal to have a fair weight, a little bit fat was totally acceptable. Then it’s ideal to be very slim. Recently we’ve seen “dad-bods” getting some positive attention. But this is already quickly changing. In fact, a recent article from Men’s Health asked 100 women if they would date a guy who had a dad-bod, about 50% of women claimed to not care either way, only 15% exclusively date men with a “dad bod”.[2]

              People’s expectations on you can be wrong.

              Most people put their expectations on others based on what’s right in the social norms, yet the social norms are created by humans in which 80% of them are just ordinary people according to the 80/20 rules.[3]

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              Think about it, every day, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep, you filter what you believe to be truth. If someone compliments you, you take it and add it to an idea of what the best version of yourself is. When someone criticizes you, even in a destructive way, you might accept it altogether, or add it to a list of things you’re insecure about. When you absorb the wrong opinion from others, you will either sabotage your self-esteem or overestimate yourself by accepting all the good compliments and stop growing; or accepting all the destructive criticisms and sabotage your own self-esteem and happiness.

              Others’ desires are not the same as yours.

                If you live your life as one long effort of trying to please other people, you will never be happy. You’re always going to rely on others to make you feel worth living. This leads to total confusion when it comes to your personal goals; when there’s no external recognition, you don’t know what to live for.

                The only person to please is yourself.

                  Think of others’ approval as fuel and think of yourself as a car. When that fuel runs out, you can’t function. This is not a healthy mindset.

                  In reality, we’re human and we can create our own fuel. You can feel good based on how much you like yourself. When you do things to make you like yourself more, you can start to see a big change in your opinion. For example, if being complimented by others made you feel good and accepted, look in the mirror and compliment yourself. Say what you wish others would say about you.

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                  Internal approval takes practice, but it’s worth the effort. You have to re-train your own mind. Think of the dog who knows there is food when the bell rings, the reflex is hard wired into the dog.[4] We need our own triggers to reinforce the habit of internal approval too. Recognize yourself every day instead of waiting for people to do it for you, check out in this article the steps to take to recognize your own achievements and gain empowerment: Don’t Wait for People to Praise You. Do It Yourself Every Single Day

                  Notice that when you start to focus on yourself and what to do to make yourself happy, others may criticize you. Since you’ve stopped trying to please others to meet their expectations, they may judge you for what you do. Be critical about what they say about you. They aren’t always right but so are you. Everyone has blind spots. Let go of biased and subjective comments but be humble and open to useful advice that will improve you.

                  Remember that you are worth it, every day. It will take time to stop relying on others to make you feel important and worth something, but the sooner you start trying, the happier and healthier you will be.

                  Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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