Soft skills that are more commonly known as the “people skills”, are character traits that can tell how well a person can interact, handle and work with other people. Employers now focus more on soft skills than just the knowledge of the person they wish to hire. These include communication, collaboration, creativity, problem-solving, working under pressure, and adaptability. The curriculums at schools now are designed to prioritize imparting these skills in children as much as the traditional learning. These skills not only help children in landing a good job but also in their personal lives.
While schools have shifted their focus towards soft skills, parents too can play a great part in building strong personalities and character traits that can enable their children to develop these skills. In the US, the average age when a child starts school is 5 to 6. This means that parents are in complete power to demonstrate and make their children develop effective communication and collaboration even before they formally start school.
This learning never stops. Parents should focus more on building their child’s Emotional Quotient (EQ) at home along with their basic knowledge of languages, sciences, and math once their child starts school. A proven way of improving communication skills, teamwork, and confidence in a child is by encouraging them to take up extracurricular activities. These can be sports, arts, music, technology, etc. Schools have started their own after-hours clubs that encourage children to pursue an interest outside of school. Similarly, many private institutions and individuals offer programs and classes for children and teens to take up any activity they like. For example, the Colorado music classes offer an after-school music program to teach children how to play a variety of musical instruments.
Every child is different. So as a parent, you must encourage your children to embrace their true selves by giving them ample freedom under your constant guidance to discover themselves and their interests. This teaches them confidence, diversity, and acceptance. Academics, unfortunately, do not let children showcase their talents and passions fully. So as parents, you should cheer these passions on by giving your child a push in the right direction.
In this article, we’ve listed down some ways you can help your child pursue their interests outside school.
Let them explore
It is very easy to let your child just crash on the couch every day after school to unwind and relax. This cannot be helpful as the child might engage in unhealthy activities like playing video games or watching television for hours. While it is very important to rest, research shows that following your passions is therapeutic.
As a parent, you should help your child seek their talent by offering them to explore every activity. You can make them go see a match, buy some art supplies, or offer them a book to read. The opportunities are endless and together, you and your child can figure out what they are really interested in.
Give them a breather
You do not wish to schedule too much together. Give your child a breathing space and let them fully delve into one interest before they can make up their mind and connect or not connect with the activity.
It takes time to identify a child’s interests and talents and rushing into finding it can irritate them. Let your child experiment with various groups and activities to see what sticks. Planning too many activities simultaneously can be overwhelming and your child might feel burnt out and lost, so make sure to take it easy and go through everything step-by-step.
Put them in charge
Many parents wish to connect with their children by sharing the same interests and hobbies. For example, many dads forcefully make their children watch sports even though their child does not show any interest in them. On the other hand, mothers wish for their daughters to shop with them or learn cooking just so they can bond well with them.
While it is very important to be a friend to your child, you must let them take the steering wheel. Their interests might not be the same as yours. So imposing them to like what you like can put them off greatly. Therefore, you must let them explore on their own all the while showing your interest in what they want to pursue. This can boost their confidence and also strengthen your relationship with them.
Use every opportunity
Learning can be fun and interactive. Not every child finds learning through the traditional methods interesting. As a parent, you should employ technology effectively to share random, fun, and exciting facts with them round the clock.
You can plan trips and vacations to help them learn new things and develop new perspectives. Answer all their “what’s” and “why’s”. Teach them about history, geography, diversity, culture, and traditions. Even going to the grocery store can be made a learning experience. This way, you can encourage your child to identify and discover their interests better.
Don’t make it an obligation
While it is extremely important to give your child a push, forcing your child to practice or attend their after-school lessons can put them off. These interests are meant to be fun and not an obligation.
Do not set high expectations, time limits, and goals for them to achieve right away. Remember, they are doing this for themselves and not for you. You must identify the moments when your child needs encouragement and when they need to be left alone.
Achievements and failures are great teachers too. Encouraging your child to perform can boost their confidence and spark the excitement of performing well. Making your child participate in a school’s match of their favorite sport, encouraging them to enter an art competition, or cheering them to join the school band is just some ways your child can demonstrate their passion.
Successes and triumphs can enhance their confidence and trust in themselves, while failures can teach them strength, commitment, and the ability to reflect on their own actions and correct them in the future.
Be their cheerleader
In the beginning, your child might struggle with finding their passion. They’d feel frustrated after every failure and might eventually give up. In such times, as a parent, you must let your child know that you are their biggest fan. There are many ways you can do this. For example, always try to be present at their practice or lesson, purchase the tools, like art supplies or a musical instrument, which they need, strike up meaningful conversations with them about their hobbies and celebrate all their accomplishments.
Letting them know that you have always got their back can make them feel heard and important.
Extracurricular activities and hobbies encourage emotional regulation, better academic performance, the ability to work in teams, and problem-solving skills in children. These activities promote a child’s curiosity and creativity that colleges and employers now seek in an ideal candidate.
Parents have the ability to encourage their children and correctly guide them to pursue these activities based on their interests. You can expand your child’s skillset and social circle by rightfully investing in these activities.