Benefits of Soft Skills for Children
Soft skills have been at the forefront of employers’ minds for quite some time. Men and women applying for jobs have been encouraged to hone and perfect these skills in addition to the hard skills required for the career field. Children can also work on these skills, but until recently, it has not been as emphasized in education.
What Are Hard Skills?
Hard skills are the counterparts to soft skills. Many people gain hard skills through studies and practice. These are the skills required for a specific career or task. For instance, a scientist will need to know how to study their specimen or the procedures required to write a report. These are skills that are explicitly taught when studying a subject or for a career.
What Are Soft Skills?
On the other hand, soft skills are skills that are required to communicate and work with others. These are skills that can’t be taught by following a plan of procedures. These are the skills that help students get along with others and work together. Soft skills are often interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.
How Can Soft Skills Help Children?
If soft skills are primarily considered in employment, you may be wondering why it is beneficial for children to learn. There are many reasons that soft skills are essential for children. Keep in mind that children will learn soft skills a little at a time and that they may not learn them in the same order or way.
Prepares Them for the Future
Preparing your child for the future seems to begin at birth. Parents begin teaching preliteracy skills in the first few months of life. Soft skills are no different. We begin teaching our children appropriate interactions from the first words we speak to them. Children who practice soft skills are better prepared to work with adults in a variety of situations later.
Integrity Isn’t Just for the Workplace
Integrity is a soft skill everyone should have throughout their lives. Cheating on tests, lying to parents, and deceiving friends are not traits that most people find desirable. Teaching your children integrity is not easy, though. You can forbid cheating, lying, and deception, but children must also understand the consequences beyond my parents will punish me. Children must understand that cheating can bite you in the long run, even if you get away with it on one test or quiz. The next test or quiz is likely to require the knowledge you skipped on the last. Likewise, subsequent years in school may also require this knowledge, and cheating can only put you behind. Children benefit from understanding that integrity is about more than people being mad or liking you.
Responsibility for One’s Actions Begins Early
Taking responsibility for one’s mistakes does not begin at 20 or 25. Children must learn to be responsible for their own actions and for the things entrusted to them. Learning responsibility can follow them into adulthood—and should, but learning responsibility helps them learn to control their own behaviors and recognize what they can and cannot control. These skills do not develop overnight, and children have to learn to control their own behaviors as much as accept that they aren’t responsible for others.
Empathy Can’t Be Taught Easily
Empathy isn’t something that people can just dictate. You will now feel empathy for others. However, learning to work with others and diverse groups can teach children to have empathy for people different from themselves. Having empathy in the workplace changes how people interact, but having empathy as a child can also change the way that children tolerate differences. They will learn to accept the differences in others and celebrate their own individuality. This is not only beneficial for their interactions but can work wonders for their personal mental health.
Problem Solving Skills Help Everyone
Learning to solve problems can help students academically in classes like math or science, but it can also help children with executive function. Children who work to learn to problem solve are often better at anticipating challenges as well. They can learn to plan for challenges and procrastinate far less often. Procrastination plagues children and adults alike. Children who are better problem solvers are also more adept at correcting these procrastination issues as well.
Improved Communication Skills for Introverts and Extroverts
Sometimes children have trouble communicating because they don’t know what to do. More time spent on these skills means that they can learn to adapt in challenging situations. Children need to be self-advocates whenever possible, but communicating with those in power such as teachers, parents, or bosses can be challenging for anyone. Learning to do this at a young age also means that children become assertive without being aggressive. They can advocate for themselves without demanding more than necessary.
How Can I Help My Child Develop Soft Skills?
There are many ways to develop soft skills, but the number one way to develop any skill is having opportunities to hone these skills. Present your child with the scenarios and skills to solve the problems as often as possible. Of course, you cannot control every scenario that your child is presented with, but when your child is presented with problems, help them determine their options and think about the consequences of taking each action. This will provide them with problem-solving skills, communication skills, and integrity just by considering what could happen in each situation. They can also gain empathy by considering why people make the choices that they do. Present them with ample opportunities to work with others, especially in diverse groups.
Soft skills are essential for people at all stages of life. Most of these skills must begin developing far before college is a consideration. These skills can start from the time your child is very young. Even toddlers can develop problem-solving skills, empathy, and communication skills. Don’t assume that it’s too early to start. Start with small things. The big things will develop as they grow.