This is a guest post from Tara Woods Turner, author of Beyond Good Manners: How to Raise a Sophisticated Child’, an excellent guide for parents on how to raise a confident, responsible child – attributes that will contribute to a child who will manage their finances responsibly. More detail on encouraging these skills in a child can be found in Tara’s book.
Although it may be years before your children are ready to impress the board of directors or company CEO with their impressive skill-sets it is never too early to teach them the soft skills they need to succeed. In addition to making them more well-rounded and responsible individuals, mastering the following skills will also give your children a crucial advantage academically and socially during their developmental years.
1. Verbal Communication
Children should be taught from an early age that clear communication increases the chances that they will be understood and consequently, have their needs better addressed and met. Enunciating clearly and confidently not only conveys meaning more proficiently but imbues the speaker with qualities of intelligence and poise. Children often fall into the habit of responding with monosyllabic sounds as opposed to articulated ones but it is never too late to reverse this trend by encouraging your children to answer questions completely. Yes and no are just as easy to speak as it is to grunt while nodding the head. By adopting strong communication skills your children will see improvement in their interpersonal engagement with family, teachers and peers.
2. Non-Verbal Communication
It is equally important that children practice effective non-verbal communication skills. The most important of these include making and maintaining eye contact during introductions and conversations and posture and bearing. Children who fidget, stand with crossed arms or who rock back and forth on their heels during conversations, for example, may unintentionally send the message that they are defensive or evasive, setting a negative tone with their correspondent from the outset of the interchange.
Staying focused often proves to be a challenge for the best of us and is especially true for children. However, becoming a more attentive person can have lasting benefits for them as they navigate socially and academically. Giving children small, manageable tasks to see through to completion is an excellent method to increase their level of focus. This will translate into the ability to engage more meaningfully with others, especially helpful as they work on group projects and manage work teams on their own. In addition, attentiveness is a vital soft skill necessary to interpersonal communication success. Your children will gain a reputation for whole engagement and further enhance their ability to retain and utilize what they hear.
Smile and the world smiles with you is an old adage that continues to endure and enjoy relevancy today. While it may not be necessary to adopt this maxim literally the underlying message is a valuable one to instill in your children. Positivity works on a feedback loop and children who approach life with such an attitude are more likely to create self-fulfilling prophecies of positive engagement. Most importantly, children who look for and embrace the positive are better able to inspire the same quality in their peers, thereby making cooperation and group cohesion more likely. Teach your children to take advantage of any opportunity to be helpful, optimistic and supportive in their interactions with others and you will raise children who will be seen as indispensable as peers, colleagues, team members, friends and partners.
5. Being a Team Player
This skill ties in closely with #4 but varies slightly because it is a bit more proactive in approach. Solid team players possess the ability to work well within the group dynamic, contributing their personal best while giving others space to do the same. This is an especially helpful skill to develop in your children because it increases their sense of interconnectivity and social interdependence. Children who understand that they are an integral part of the whole grow more secure in their ability to affect change and influence outcomes.
Children who can accept constructive criticism and learn from their mistakes are poised for success as they set and achieve their goals. It is never easy to be informed that you are on the wrong track or that your output is less than stellar, but growth can not occur without this and the earlier children are taught to view criticism as a tool and not as an indictment the stronger and more productive they will be. It also happens to be true that humility is a rare trait, making it as admirable as it is valuable.
Accountability is just as crucial as responsibility when it comes to positive engagement with others. Fostering this trait in your children will enable them to grow in integrity and trustworthiness. Children who keep their word, do their best and uphold their obligations are ones who understand that they are earning regard and admiration on the strength of their own merits. Being accountable will garner your children increased privileges and responsibilities, a reward in and of itself.
8. Basic Etiquette
Good manners are indispensable when it comes to showing respect for ourselves and others. Children who are polite, considerate and thoughtful have an immense social advantage – the results of which are long-lasting and visible in every aspect of their personal, social and professional lives. By teaching your children even the basics of etiquette you equip them with the tools necessary to make good impressions and increase the pleasure others experience in their company. The positive impact this will have on their self-esteem, interpersonal dynamics and prospects can not be overstated.
The ability to lead is often a natural one but there are ways to teach your children to replicate much of this quality in their own lives. Leaders have the ability to see what others have to offer and find ways to bring those skills to the forefront. Your children may or may not be comfortable taking the lead in a group setting but teaching them to appreciate what others bring to the table helps to establish key leadership qualities and traits. Others include delegation, conflict resolution, problem-solving and project management. Children who exercise patience and thoughtfulness embody these leadership skills because they are able to analyze situations before they act. They understand things holistically and are able to see the end result and not just individual components, making them proficient at showing others better ways to accomplish established goals.
Flexibility is also a vital soft skill that children can benefit from immensely. It has been said that the only thing constant is change and what better way to prepare children for this inevitability than to teach them to be adaptable? As your children set goals help them envision scenarios in which their optimal outcomes may have to be achieved by other methods. By understanding contingencies they are able to develop back-up plans and alternate routes by which to arrive at their desired goals. In addition to cutting down on frustration and a sense of hopelessness. being highly adaptable encourages children to be creative, resilient and optimistic, qualities that are important in every aspect of life.
Success lies at the crossroads of preparation and opportunity and instilling these ten soft skills in your children will better equip them to make the transition to successful adulthood with efficiency and ease.
I am an etiquette consultant, best-selling author and online content contributor. I received my certification in general etiquette and etiquette for children and teens. As author of the Beyond Parenting series I have been a frequent guest on radio talk shows, podcasts and blog spotlights. A Salisbury, NC native, I currently live in New York, NY with my husband and our hyperactive puppy, Catherine. When I’m not working or writing I collect vintage books and letters and Pleasant Company dolls, and I spend far too much time analyzing James Taylor lyrics.
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Tara’s book ‘Beyond Good Manners: How to Raise a Sophisticated Child’ is available on Audible and also as an ebook and paperback on Amazon: