Parents hear often that their children need a solid foundation of academic knowledge to flourish in college and beyond. However, there are many other attributes that help children lead successful, fulfilling lives. When it comes to life and career, most people can attest that technical skills only get one so far. “We tell parents regularly that while academic aptitude matters, there are a number of personal characteristics that will set their children apart and help them do well in life.”
Successful students and people possess these five “soft” skills and encourages parents to nurture them in their children whenever possible:
Communication skills – Verbal and nonverbal communication skills are frequently touted as the most important skills in any career. Parents should encourage their children to express their ideas and opinions clearly when writing or speaking, but it’s also crucial to build careful, attentive listening skills as well.
Empathy – Empathy is one component of emotional intelligence and something that helps people develop strong interpersonal connections—a key to success in life. Parents can help their children learn to recognize how their actions and words impact and influence others, both positively and negatively. The ability to understand others’ feelings is critical for building good relationships—with friends as well as teachers, classmates, coworkers and bosses.
Perseverance – Most parents have recited the age-old adage, “If at first, you don’t succeed, try, try again,” to their children before. Without question, life is full of challenges. One of the most important skills children can acquire is that of perseverance. Parents can facilitate the development of this trait by teaching their children to set goals and lay out smaller steps toward achieving those goals and by always talking about challenges as opportunities for learning and growth.
Teamwork – Students who are able to work effectively with all types of people have a leg up in college and the working world. Luckily for parents, today’s teachers often have their students collaborate on a variety of projects. At home, parents can offer their children opportunities to contribute and debate ideas and work with their siblings to complete tasks.
Problem-solving – Children who take a proactive approach to solving problems and overcoming roadblocks have a big advantage. When facing problems large and small, children should try out different solutions. Parents can support this by encouraging their children to talk about what worked and didn’t work with each attempted solution and helping them think through alternatives.
Soft skills don’t come naturally to everyone, but with effort and practice, parents can foster their children’s development of these personal traits. Soft skills are important throughout school, but they become essential in one’s career . Parents who consistently and patiently work with their children to help them become adaptable, hard-working problem-solvers with the critical thinking skills to navigate any issue are preparing them for life success.