Moms are always worried about whether or not they’re doing what’s best for their child. One form of validation for parents is if their child is doing well in school. However, there’s learning that goes beyond books and grades, equally important to the child’s development.
Here are some of those skills that every child needs to master to be future ready. Apart from age-appropriate motor skills, parents need to remember that they fall outside of, yet also go hand-in-hand with academics. And the best part is, you can help your child learn these skills right now, so that they will be able to reap their benefits throughout their lives.
It’s delightful to see kids work or play together. Watching their group dynamics, how they work and communicate within the team, are all so fascinating, especially when they’re still quite young.
In fact, a study1 revealed that children with strong social skills as early as when they’re in kindergarten are more likely to thrive as adults. Children who are able to collaborate learn how to share and give credit where it is due.
Being able to work well with others also opens up your child’s world. It teaches them to move away from “me” thinking to “we” thinking.
You can help your child further hone this skill by doing chores as a family, or working on things together. Remember to show them appreciation for collaborating with you and for their hard work. This will encourage your child to do more deeds with and for those around him.
A common manifestation of this is when your child notices another child crying and begins to mirror his emotions. Being able to relate or know how someone else is feeling not only takes your child out of “the world revolves around me” attitude, but empathy teaches anyone—no matter what age—to connect with others on a much deeper level.
Teaching your child to empathize with others may sound tricky, but it’s actually quite simple. It usually starts at home – how you’re able to acknowledge or relate to their daily emotions or experiences.
Most parents, especially when their children are upset, rush to soothe their child without getting to the root cause of the problem. It’s quite understandable; but perhaps, the next time your child conveys being sad or hurt, pause and acknowledge his emotion/s and experience. This gives you time to figure out what happened, and your child the opportunity to learn how to self-soothe.
Once they’re old enough to converse, try a simple statement, such as, “I see how sad / hurt / frightened you are. Would you like to tell me about what happened? Perhaps I can help.” More often than not, they’re not ready to share, and they shouldn’t be forced to do so. Staying with them until they’re ready to speak up, as they’re processing their emotions, will be comforting to them because it shows that you care and that their feelings are real and important.
When this happens, your child will also do the same for others, rather than ignoring or forcing others to “feel okay” right away. Being empathetic is, after all, about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and not solving someone else’s problems for them.
Being able or focus on the task at hand—whether it’s working on an art project or talking to a peer—is harder to do nowadays, even for adults! With so many distractions around us, concentrating may just be a skill that all of us need to hone daily.
And why is this beneficial for your child? Multitasking can make someone spread themselves too thinly, while focusing on one task at a time will help finish the task at hand faster and in a more efficient way.
Plus, it teaches your child to focus fully on the present. Not on past mistakes, not feeling anxious about the future—all they need to deal with is what’s right in front of them, and that will make them feel more relieved and in control of what’s happening.
How do you encourage this in your little ball of energy? Urge your child/preschooler to pack away his toys before moving on to the next one, or give him one item to look for in the supermarket, for example, so that his focus is on locating that one item for you.
Being able to come up with a solution to everyday concerns, from small things like figuring out a new toy to bigger issues like what to do when faced with a bully, is a life skill that is constantly being tested and sharpened.
As parents, your children look up to you and think that you are all knowing. While it’s tempting to always come to your child’s rescue, teaching your child to solve their own problems will help them turn out to be independent, critical thinkers. Excellent problem-solving skills is also a hallmark of a strong leader.
Hone this skill by providing open-ended toys for your child. Blocks, puzzles or materials found around the house that they can use (like empty rolls of tissue paper, shoeboxes, and the like) will help them become more creative and figure out what they can do with these items.
Whenever they pose a question, help them come up with the answer themselves or let them come up with their own answers, rather than giving the answer right away. It might take up a little more of your time, but the rewards will be great.
One of the most frustrating experiences for new parents is hearing their child cry (sometimes seemingly in terrible pain) without knowing the reason behind it. Yet crying is the main way children communicate with their parents for most of the early years of life.
Eventually one learns to “read” their child and understand not just the verbal cues, but also his body language. But you can also boost your child’s communication skills by encouraging him to express himself – through words, by pointing them out to your child and asking him to repeat them back; and through movements, like pointing or even sign language if he’s still a child, for basic words like milk, please, more, sleepy, etc. Singing and dancing with your little one will help as well.
Learning to be an effective communicator also comes with being a good listener. This will be key to the success of your child’s future relationships as well as performance in school and at the workplace.
Teaching your child these 5 skills may be a lifelong process requiring lots of time and effort; but trust that it will be quite a thrill to see them picking up the concepts, applying them, and maybe even teaching you a thing or two! Remember that the guidance you give them will set the standard for their future actions and decisions, so be patient and fully embrace (even enjoy!) your role as your child’s first teacher.