Teach your children people and relationship skills.

A handshake

Will it be possible to have a non-digital conversation 20 years from now? I am saddened when I see children out with their families and on their electronic gadgets not having conversations with one another at a restaurant. This is an opportunity for families to connect and talk about what is going on in their lives.

Here are five small things parents can do to foster “people” skills in their children:

1- No tech gadgets at the dinner table/restaurants: We had lunch at Benihana (one of our favorite family restaurants) and sat across from a family of five. Each of the 3 children was on their own electronic gadget and adults the same. No one was talking with each other; it made me sad. Say “no” to tech gadgets when eating meals. Focus and enjoy your food and conversation.

2- Ask questions of family members: I did this on our past family vacation. I asked family members what lessons they have learned in their lives. It led to very interesting interesting conversations. The game Table Topics is also a great way to help get the conversation going.

3- Selling Girl Scout cookies* door to door vs selling them online: Initially, I was so excited about the Girl Scouts going digital with online sales, but then I thought about it. The whole art of the sale is lost because who is setting up the online site? Me and not my daughters…There is no personal interaction and work presenting yourself and the sale. So we will continue to go door to door to build those relationship skills

* It may not be Girl Scout Cookies, but at some point your kids may have to sell something to raise funds for an initiative.

4- Firm handshakes (from a previous post)

Ever since the girls were little, I would play this game with them: “Let’s pretend we are meeting for the first time; what would you do?” They would then shake my hand, look me in the eye and say “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” I would explain to them it’s always important to look at people in the eye (at least in America it is) and give them a nice solid handshake (I hate “wet fish” handshakes). It’s a basic networking skill, but I know they will continue to be able to use it during their lifetime.

5- Teach your kids the importance of “Thank You” – When one receives a gift, you want to acknowledge the gift. I think the ideal situation is to write a handwritten note 24 hours after you have received the gift, but let’s be realistic. I think in this electronic age, a handwritten thank you note is a nice touch, but I am also a fan of “Thank You Videos” – I will very often take a video clip of girls where they convey their thanks and send it to the gift giver. I can’t say we are always perfect with the thank you but we try.

It is important for parents to take the time to teach their kids these skills. Our children can only benefit from them. So what do you do to foster people and relationship skills in your kids?

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