“Teens today need training in everyday courtesies. I have to actually train my teen employees to greet people who walk into the shop and I need to teach them to look customers in the eye while talking.”

This comment came from a business owner. She is not alone in her evaluation of teen workers. Since she mentioned her frustration, I have heard others in similar positions express the same sentiment.

Historically, people skills have been caught. Subtle interactions and nonverbal communication  were observed and then imitated.

Apparently what used to be noticed and practiced is now slipping past many young people. Perhaps we are too distracted with devices and schedules to lift our heads, see life around us, and to interact with others.

Many of the items listed in Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten are soft skills, people skills. Here are some of the items on his list:

  • Share.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
We can no longer solely rely on our kid’s power of observation and ability to interpret interpersonal interaction. Soft skills such as communication, respect, integrity, positive attitude, work ethic, conflict resolution, empathy, time management, and team work need to be intentionally taught in the home.
So how are your kid’s soft skills?
Here are some questions to evaluate where they may need some training. (Note: some of these questions over lap the EQ Assessment-blog #1 in the series. See additional links below.):1. Is your child able to share?
2. Can your child play by the rules?
3. Is your child respectful of other people?
4. Is your child responsible for his “stuff” and mess?
5. Does your child admit when he is wrong and say he is sorry?
6. Can your child look others in the eye when speaking or listening?
7. Does he greet people as they enter a room?
8. What is his general disposition?
9. Is he able to persevere?
10. How does he handle disagreement?People skills and Emotional Intelligence (or EQ) are closely linked. EQ can be increased and social skills can  taught.

The upcoming blogs will focus on developing our children’s people skills. In the meantime, let’s follow Robert Fulghum’s advice. Eat warm cookies with cold milk, take an afternoon nap, flush, and hold hands and stick together.

Love your neighbor as yourself.
Mark 12:31

© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.

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