6 Life Skills Parents Can Model While Working from Home
If you are a parent working from home, then you have already navigated your share of unanticipated kid cameos on Zoom calls, cries for homework help, and giving in to too much screen time just to grab a few precious uninterrupted minutes of work. While the pandemic has turned the tables, kids are getting a first-hand glimpse into their parents’ work lives. But, there’s a silver lining, because this is an ideal time for parents to introduce, reinforce and model life skills that will set kids up for success.
You serve as your child’s most significant role model, so it’s important to practice the values and attitudes you want them to adopt. A foundation of emotional and behavioral skills can set the stage for improved relationships, personal and professional success, and enhanced emotional intelligence and—depending on their ages—will help children excel at school, on the playground or soccer field, at college, and eventually on the job.
It’s never too early to start, and your time at home together can pave the way. It’s a virtual learning laboratory! Consider what simple activities you can introduce to encourage six valuable traits:
- Leadership: While every child won’t have the chance to be the team captain or class president, you can allow your child to take the lead in planning a family vacation, make a meal, rearrange furniture in their room or create a playlist. Simple activities like these enhance your child’s sense of responsibility and build confidence.
- Teamwork: Help kids hone their skills by suggesting they collaborate on projects, from cooking or conducting an experiment, to building a clubhouse or collaborating on a volunteer project. Use these opportunities as teaching moments by reflecting on the significance and benefits of working together to achieve better results. Encourage involvement in community outreach projects, youth groups and organizations.
- Communication: These skills are incredibly important as kids mature; yet, by the time they enter the workplace, many young adults still lack in that area, according to employers. Learning how to communicate and interact effectively is vital for relationship building and may be some of the toughest skills to master. Consistent work on vocabulary, telephone manners, proper e-mail and social network practices is a must. Teach children how to meet and greet others, rehearse the proper way to introduce friends to each other and to adults, and practice how make eye contact. If your child is active online, now is the time to set guidelines for “netiquette.” Good communication is a precursor to successful conflict resolution.
- Conflict Resolution: Help your child understand how to articulate a problem and discover solutions. Introduce concepts like compromise and respect. When an argumentative situation arises, suggest your child paraphrase what the other is saying to learn if they truly understand the opposing point of view. Parents can help, not by solving every problem, but by offering problem-solving choices and encouraging kids to weigh the pros and cons of each approach.
- Goal Setting: Incorporate this concept into your child’s daily life by setting small goals that lead to a larger overall goal. For example, if the goal is to buy a bicycle by the end of the summer, help your child create the action steps required to achieve the ultimate goal, and consider how much time is necessary to accomplish each step. Encourage persistence and follow-through, and celebrate a job well done!
- Organization: Good organizational skills go hand-in-hand with efficient time management and can reduce stress when tasks increase in complexity as children grow. Beyond just cleaning out clutter in their room or desk drawers, have your child participate in setting up a chart or list of daily activities and tasks, which will help them understand the time commitment for each.
There are plenty of other outside resources to help kids learn life and work skills. One of my favorites is Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® Day. For more than two decades, Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Foundation has provided a chance for millions of kids to go to the workplace and connect what they learn at school with the working world. While most people won’t be able to take kids further than their home office this year, the organization is bringing the working world to kids’ fingertips through a virtual global event on Thursday, April 22, 2021. This is a great program to share with your children, then bring the conversation back to the dinner table to talk about what your child experienced. You can register for free here.
As you spend time with your kids at home, remember to practice patience and provide good examples. These are skills that evolve over time, not overnight. Learning them should be fun and interactive, not stressful.
The cumulative effect of your efforts and theirs will be well rewarded. The behavioral, social and emotional skills that your child develops, though not reflected on a report card, will serve them for a lifetime.
Ellen Langas is president of NouSoma Communications, Inc. and author of Girls Know How® books, a national, award-winning series that encourages young readers to explore and pursue the careers of their dreams. www.GirlsKnowHow.com