Ask anyone ‘How to build a successful career?’ And you’ll get a list of positive parenting tips or a list of “do’s and don’ts” on how good education, skill development, & good schools affect a child’s future. But are these enough to develop most of the skills and qualities that the future employers will look for in our children? Does learning happen only when we teach our children?

We believe child development is more than just building skills for employment and livelihood. It’s about empowering children to manage themselves, make independent decisions, solve problems of the people & the environment. And, this is what we wish to cover in this article.

Though undervalued, these professional skills will help little ones outshine in any industry!

Why & How To Develop 3 Of The Most Underrated But Critically Important Skills In Children

  1. Listening
Listening skills

Why? Listening is an innate skill that every kid needs to master, to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunication. Listening comprehension includes receiving & interpreting verbal messages, decoding the nonverbal cues (facial expressions, tone, posture, etc.), understanding and relating to the meaning behind words.

How: We can develop listening skills in children through simple everyday activities like—

  • Motivating kids to follow verbal instructions in a game.
  • Encouraging children to listen to music and helping them recognise background sounds and their sources.
  • Listening audio stories together and asking them to retell their favourite parts.

Also, it’s important to communicate to the little ones that a good listener waits for the speaker to finish their questions/statements before responding/reacting. It’s perfectly fine if they want to take their own sweet time to absorb words before framing a genuine, considerate reply.

The Outcomes Of Active Listening Skills:

  • Curious listeners ask the right questions, which stimulates their learning abilities.
  • They flawlessly communicate ideas through words, gestures, and body language (the prime characteristics of a good speaker).
  • They’re receptive towards others’ feelings, ideas & perspectives (team player in every sense).

2. Observation

Observation skills

Why? When children use all the five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch) to observe the world around them, they ‘listen’ with more than just their ears. Good observation skills improve their ability to interact & respond that plays a crucial role in problem-solving and decision-making abilities.

How to nurture observation skills in kids, considering their fleeting attention span?

  • Look, listen, practice, and learn with them. Go outdoors with your kids, visit places, and wonder aloud in a non-judgemental way—what others are doing, what they might be thinking, etc. When their skills become more developed with experience, you can start discussing the meaning of people’s behaviour and emotions.
  • Ask questions about your child’s daily experiences. Acknowledge their statements/replies and ask further questions to add to those observations.
  • Help them identify their emotions: name the feeling and talk about how they can be expressed.

The Benefits Of Being A Keen Observer:

  • Observing how kids react to complex circumstances and negative emotions will help them control their feelings and respond in a better way.
  • With head up and blinders off, children are more likely to view their future path.
  • Observation deepens cognitive learning. Observant children develop many soft-skills like empathy by noticing little things.

Read: How The Infinity School’s curriculum incorporates pro-social skills with academics.

3. Empathy

Imagine living in a place where people don’t understand each other, and everyone’s left to deal with their emotions and experiences by themselves. There won’t be any love, understanding, or acceptance. Even though our basic needs would be met, wouldn’t life be gloomy without considerate thoughts and feelings? Do we want our kids to grow up in such a world?

Empathy

Why? In a world where others are moving at a breakneck pace, being empathetic sets your child apart from the competition. Cognitive empathy is a package of skills that build positive child behaviour by improving one’s ability to absorb other’s perspective and imagining ourselves in their situation, thus, translating the external negative emotions into positive ones.

Being nice doesn’t mean one can’t be assertive. Kids can still voice their thoughts, while considering others, by using appropriate words and gestures.

How?

  • Be the one who listens. Children behave nicely when they feel belonged and what better way than acknowledging their statements and sentiments.
  • Build an empathetic environment around kids by modelling the right examples (“It was very nice of you to help your friend with the homework. I bet even you would’ve felt great.”)
  • Don’t force an apology out of children. Rather, coax them to think about how it would feel, had they been in others’ shoes. A ‘sincere sorry’ may take some hours—sometimes days to appear, but when it does, it comes after a lot of introspection.

The Benefits Of Being Empathetic:

  • Empathetic children form sustainable relationships, in the long run, are social and well-behaved. Empathy prevents violence, anti-social behaviour, and aggression in children.
  • Empathetic employees show concern and support toward their team members by helping them wherever they can.
  • An empathetic leader believes that each of his/her team members has something valuable to contribute to the common cause. He/she acts thoughtfully to meet the needs of his/her people.

These soft skills may seem more like common behavioural traits. However, you’ll be surprised to know they’re wanted everywhere, no matter where our child goes. We often neglect them because we tend to focus more on developing technical skills in children that are relevant to college/job interviews.

Once, we help kids recognise their natural abilities and learn to develop them into potential skills, they can easily achieve excellence everywhere–schools, jobs, or relationships. All we need to do is to direct their growth in the right direction.

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