Many times, parents can focus on their child’s education or athleticism and forget that many small keys to success are simply interpersonal. The brainiac or the class jock who can not relate well to people will be limited in their promotion… not for lack of skill or talent but because they are unable to connect with others.
Moms and dads, interpersonal skills are a HUMONGOUS part of your child growing up to be successful in whatever they purpose to do with their lives. And today, I am going to share with you a simple way to prime that pump.
We must be all about looking for ways to grow our child’s confidence and capability in communication. Just this month alone, I have given my children multitudes of opportunities. I prompted one son to stand when meeting a man of importance. I asked a daughter to go and especially reach out to a woman I knew was hurting in our community. I asked another son to go speak to a table of people at a restaurant who shared in his love of football. I had another daughter go and thank someone for bringing in a speaker she admired. From ages 4-10, it is more of my job to look for opportunities for them to reach out. As they age, their confidence grows and I find that they begin to search out their own opportunities.
From 10-14 years of age, they will generally ask permission to go and speak with someone, or ask me IF there is someone they should try to meet or encourage when we are somewhere. After 14 years old, they have become adept at reading social situations and are comfortable assessing a room full of people on their own, evaluating who needs encouragement or who they can learn something from. Sometimes it’s as simple as having my child ask for change at a restaurant, teaching them to hold the door open for the elderly or go and thank a veteran for his service to our country.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t expecting much from kids these days in the way of communication…so junior can fall flat on his face, jumble up his words, or say something completely awkward and hardly anyone will notice or remember. Start with having your child thank and encourage his Sunday School teacher or team coach. Prompt them to remember the grocery store worker’s name and ask them a question about their day. In any sports season…they can ask any passer-by who they are rooting for in the big game! When you are out, challenge them to find three people they can encourage…maybe the waiter at the restaurant, maybe the librarian or postman.
Ultimately, as followers of Christ, we are to be reaching out to a hurting world and offering hope for this life and eternity. Without good interpersonal skills, reaching out can be awkward at best and difficult and counterproductive at worst. Relating to people WELL takes prompting and practice.