5 Crucial ‘Soft’ Skills To Be Mindful Of Teaching Your Children
Hard skills get all the attention. Skills like honing a child’s fine and gross motor functions and figuring out how to speak are crucial for toddlers to learn. But there are other skills your toddler should learn in order for them to grow up to be a functioning member of society.
Soft skills are just as—if not more—important than hard skills. These non-measurable skills will help them cultivate relationships, communicate better, and become more self-confident. Here are five crucial soft skills you need to make sure your child learns while they’re young to set them up for success as they grow.
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It’s the circle of life: you’re born, your parents help you grow up, and you leave the nest and live your own life. Whether you like it or not, you won’t always be around to help your child navigate life. When your child is small, you’re responsible for guiding them, answering questions, and teaching them about the world. Part of that teaching is how to solve problems by themselves and cultivating an independent spirit.
Teaching your child independence from a young age will not just keep them from developing separation anxiety, it will help them make decisions, feel confident, and learn how to help others. That doesn’t mean you should let them go to the park by themselves if they’re too young, but letting them make their own choices (like letting them pick out their clothing or letting them help you cook dinner) will help them build confidence and show they can do things themselves.
It’s important to teach kids from a young age that people come in all different shapes and sizes, they come from all different backgrounds, and they all have different ideas and beliefs. Everyone is different from they are, and you should accept them for who they are. It can be easy for young children to think that the house and neighborhood they’re growing up in is how everyone else’s should be, but that can be a dangerous line of thinking. Teaching them acceptance will make them more tolerant adults.
There’s a difference between being nice and being kind—make sure to teach your child to be both. Being nice is showing basic decencies for others like smiling and saying thank you. Being kind goes a little deeper. People who are genuinely kind have a desire to make everyone feel welcomed on a far deeper level than just on the surface. You want to treat others the way that you want to be treated—better, even.
The best way to teach your child to be a kind human is to cultivate that type of kind environment in your own home. Make sure to treat your child, no matter how young they are with compassion and love. Teach them what kindness is and about the Golden Rule. Kindness is an abstract concept that can be hard for kids to understand, so connecting it with action verbs—sharing, giving, thanking, comforting, listening, helping—will help them find situations in their daily lives where they can be kind.
Empathy is the ability to understand the perspective of those around you. Having empathy helps people become kind and compassionate human beings. When people are empathetic, they can understand why someone is feeling sad, be happy for those who are happy, and be supportive of those who are struggling. You can teach your child empathy by modeling it yourself. If they’re talking to you (even if it’s boring or babbling) show that you’re listening. If they’re sad, ask them questions about why they’re feeling that way and let them know you’re always there for them. These little gestures are crucial since they’re learning social cues from you all the time.
Respect is more than just saying “yes ma’am” and “thank you”. It’s about giving everyone the attention and care they deserve as fellow human beings. It’s caring enough to consider how your own words and actions will impact those around you. And if they’re hurting others, respect is changing your actions so they don’t hurt others again in the future. You can’t force someone to respect you, but you can control how you treat others. It’s a complicated concept (and some adults definitely need a refresher course on respect) but it’s something you should make sure your child learns as soon as possible. You can help teach your child respect by being a good example and respecting both them and everyone you interact with.
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