We all want to support our kids to grow into successful and capable kick-ass adults. Yet did you know that a whopping LESS than 1% of Australian adults have any soft skills listed on their LinkedIn profiles?
If that shocks your socks off (believe me there’s more where that came from!) then don’t fret, you’ve come to the right place! We’re not saying you should create a LinkedIn profile for your 5-year-old, but it’s never too early to be prepared, right?
Keep reading to find out what top 10 skills will help your kid become a super-duper-well-performing-employable-creative-human.
What Are Soft Skills?
Soft skills are the people skills and character traits that determine how we interact with others. They include skills such as time management and self-confidence. They’re different from hard skills, which are physical like building a fence, or technical like using software.
The Demand For Soft Skills
Dr Marion Steel says that “soft skills affect every aspect of your career”. They’re desirable to employers because they show whether someone will fit into the workplace. Deloitte states that soft skills are 9x more likely to be endorsed than technical skills. And since they’re so transferrable, they make you an adaptable employee or leader – winning! So, when do we start developing soft skills? Much earlier than you think!
Soft Skills and Your Kid’s Future
Dell Technologies estimates that 85% of the jobs in 2030 haven’t even been invented yet. Yep, we’re mind-boggled too. That’s around when our kids will start working! That’s why now’s the time to help build the skills they need to adapt to the future.
Soft skills will help your kid become a confident individual, and an employable and valued member of society. You’re probably wondering how we can make this happen (without turning into demanding parents). It’s easier than you think!
Learning Through Play
Think of learning while you’re young as pre-experience for the wider world. Your child’s mind is a sponge, soaking up knowledge at a fast rate, whether consciously or not.
Playing fun games and activities with your kid helps them build these soft skills. It also prepares them to perform better academically. For e.g. kids who often do puzzles, can develop better problem-solving skills than others.
So, in no order, here are the top ten soft skills that kids need for a positive future.
The Top 10 Skills
Leadership is a combination of soft skills. They reflect the ability to manage multiple people and situations. Leader of the Blindfolded is an awesome game for building your kids’ leadership, communication and trust skills. Have everyone wear blindfolds except for one child. The one who’s not blindfolded guides everyone else across the room using clear instructions. Let your kids take turns at being the leader. This is best played in a group, but if it’s just two of you, it’ll still be just as fun and effective!
Communication is more than reading, writing, listening and speaking well. It’s also the ability to talk with gestures, be concise and respectful, and make an impact. For e.g. If your child is a confident speaker from a young age, it could be the winning factor in a job interview years from now. Communication skills also play a big role in relationship dynamics.
Simply engaging in conversations with your kids can make a large difference. Showing genuine interest in what your kids like and asking them questions will keep the conversation going. Conversations are great because they can happen anywhere and anytime. You might actually learn from them too!
3. Teamwork and Collaboration
It’s inevitable that your kids will work in a team one day. We know, getting kids to cooperate can be HARD. But here are some simple ways to teach them how to be a collaborative team-player:
- Praising your kids when they’re playing cooperatively
- Teaching them how to take turns, and
- Asking for their opinions
Cooking with your kids can be a fun and engaging activity to encourage teamwork just as much as them being part of a sporting team.
4. Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
To get ahead of the crowd, your kid will need think critically. This means being able to observe, analyse and produce solutions to problems.
Something as simple as doing a jigsaw puzzle helps kids think about all sides of an issue (literally!). Let them struggle sometimes by not over-nurturing and helping them with everything. That’s right, resist the urge to set out the 4 corner pieces and sort all the edge pieces for them. It might seem small, but it can help your kids learn to overcome challenges independently!
If your white walls have ever looked like pages of a colouring book, you could have a little Picasso in the making! Okay, that’s probably not the most ideal way for your kids to show you how creative they are.
Encouraging self-directed play and doing anything crafty (off the walls) is a great way for kids to explore their curiosity. Plus, did you know that creativity can boost your child’s ability to problem solve and develop new ideas? Pretty neat huh!
If your kids need encouraging, choose a day of the week to be a making-day. Turn one wall (using Blu Tack) into a gallery of their creations. You could even keep a whiteboard or pinboard in the kitchen that they get to decorate every day.
A few years ago, we wouldn’t have imagined being forced to bring our own bags to the supermarket. But heck, look at us go – even though we still forget sometimes! It’s the 21st century and things are changing, fast. Your kids will need to be adaptable to keep up with our rapidly changing world, because we don’t know what’s coming.
Help your kids learn to be resilient and adjust to different situations. Something didn’t go as planned? Help them use their problem-solving skills, and positive attitude to figure out how to get through it. If you end up having an unplanned family dinner because the babysitter cancels on date night, that’s okay! It’s an opportunity for your kids to learn by example to create alternative solutions.
7. Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
There’ll be many situations in your kids’ lives where they need to negotiate or resolve conflict. Being persuasive and sensitive of others comes back to personal communication skills.
Let your kids make compromises with you, rather than you with them. This will show them how to seek solutions that benefit all parties. For e.g. next time your kids are begging for their favourite lollies, let them offer something in return. It could be that they go to bed on time (or earlier), clean their room, or eat all their vegetables for dinner – it’s all up for negotiation!
8. Positive Attitude
As Oprah Winfrey once said: “a person can change their future by merely changing their attitude.” A positive attitude is a crazy wonderful thing – it determines how others perceive you, and how you perceive yourself and the world.
When it comes to the workplace, a positive employee lacking hard skills is always preferred over the opposite. It’s easier to teach someone how to do something, than change their attitude!
Strive to be a motivating parent and teach your kids how to focus on the positives in any situation. Congratulating your kids on their successes or attempts at something and praising them often will help improve their self-confidence.
9. Strong Work Ethic
It’s no surprise that a strong work ethic helps to excel in school, and at work. It involves time management, attention to detail, dependability, and going the extra mile.
Showing your kid how to be punctual is a great way to start. You could show them how to watch the clock, and encourage them to be ready 10 minutes early whenever you need to go somewhere. That extra 10 minutes can be used for some fun time like making up a story.
10. Decision Making
We’ve all seen that funny video of the toddler who decided to cover her baby brother in peanut butter. If not, (https://bit.ly/2YhYD20) you’re welcome! Situations like these are damn funny (and cute) during childhood. But decision-making in adulthood can have much steeper consequences.
The ability to make good judgements and anticipate consequences of actions is essential to moving forward in life. Playing “Would You Rather” is a great way for kids to practice decision making. Ask them questions such as “would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly in the air?”. Asking them why they chose their answers also helps them strengthen the thought processes that lead to their decision.
The best way for any child to learn how to make the right decisions is by learning from their mistakes as they go. This is because experiencing the consequences from their own decisions, helps pave a path of learning for future decisions.
It’s a competitive, changing world out there. But by encouraging the 10 soft skills here (and modelling them yourself) your kids can adapt and stay ahead. Look for activities that incorporate some of these skills and don’t be afraid to be creative with these the next time you play with your kids. They’ll thank you in the long run!