As parents, we want to raise successful children. We want them to excel in school, get a promising career, and succeed in the future. As a result, we focus on developing their hard skills through academic activities. We sometimes forget that soft skills are as important and, as studies show, even more crucial to success.
In this post, let’s learn what soft skills are, why they are important, what soft skills our children need to succeed, and how we can help develop these skills in our children.
What are soft skills?
The Collins Dictionary defines soft skills as “interpersonal skills such as the ability to communicate well with other people and to work in a team.” These skills help our children develop a holistic and balanced personality. Soft skills include interacting well with other people, controlling oneself, solving problems, and managing time and tasks.
Hard skills vs. soft skills
To better understand soft skills, we compare them with hard skills.
Hard skills are measurable abilities our children learn through education, training, and other life experiences. These teachable skills include reading, writing, math, and other academic and sports skills.
On the other hand, soft skills are non-technical and non-intellectual traits that children develop mainly through life-long experiences and practice. These skills can be learned in different environments, especially at home and school.
Examples of hard skills and soft skills
Here are some examples of hard and soft skills in children:
- Basketball game
- Hard skills – shooting and passing skills
- Soft skills – teamwork and communication skills
- School play
- Hard skills -memorization and acting skills
- Soft skills – creativity and confidence
- Science project
- Hard skills – knowledge and presentation skills
- Soft skills – time management and perseverance
Why are soft skills important?
As hard skills are essential for our children to excel in school, land a good job, or start a business in the future, soft skills will set them apart from others and help them succeed. Children with self-confidence, self-control, time management, perseverance, and social skills will learn to thrive in different environments and situations.
These personal traits also influence how our children can work alone and with other people. They can do things well alone or in groups with the right soft skills. These skills also create dependable and great leaders. Finally, our children would find it easier to make and keep friends as they foster healthier relations with people they are around with.
What soft skills do children need to be successful?
According to educational psychologist and parenting expert Michele Borba, there are seven soft skills that create successful children:
Confident children feel assured. They believe in their qualities and capabilities. While our children may fail, self-confidence tells them they will be okay and can bounce back and succeed.
This important soft skill comes from their accomplishments – from their own effort, from fixing their own problems, and creating solutions. So the next time your child faces a little challenge or setback, let them handle it so they will start believing in themselves and develop confidence.
Curious children have the fascination and desire to discover the unknown. They are driven to try what’s new and pursue different challenges.
Curiosity and other soft skills can lead to children’s success as they make more discoveries and grow through rich experiences. Whether they succeed or fail, they will learn something along the way.
Empathy can come in different forms:
- Emotional empathy: sharing and feeling others’ emotions,
- Cognitive empathy: putting ourselves in others’ shoes and understanding their thoughts, and
- Behavioral empathy: acting with compassion
Developing this soft skill in children can lead to their future success as they grow. Empathy can benefit our children through the following:
- by helping them gain self-understanding and identity through others,
- fostering cooperation,
- promoting innovation by being more open to new perspectives, and
- improving influence by understanding other people and using a common point to influence others with their point of view
Empathy is also key to building strong relationships with others that will create positive outcomes for their well-being.
Integrity is being able to adhere firmly to moral and ethical principles. In children, it may not mean that they are always honest, reliable, or respectful. At this point in their lives, integrity may mean that they understand and respect the consequences of their actions toward themselves and others. This understanding will help them develop integrity and consistently do the right thing as they grow older.
Developing this soft skill will contribute to our children’s success as they tend to make the right decisions guided by their moral and ethical values.
Optimism is a crucial component in any successful journey and can be especially beneficial for children’s success. More optimistic children tend to believe that positive outcomes will occur regardless of their challenges. This attitude helps them to stay motivated in their studies and activities while also managing their emotions more effectively when things don’t go their way.
Optimistic children often have higher self-esteem levels than pessimistic peers, which can help them take on challenging tasks without fear of failure or criticism from others. Furthermore, optimistic children can view setbacks as opportunities for growth instead of defeats. This ability allows them to move forward with confidence and determination.
Persistence is having the motivation and discipline to stick with a goal until it’s accomplished. It means persevering and not giving up easily on a goal when faced with difficulties. According to Educational Psychologist Michelle Borba, perseverance is the number one soft skill that predicts children’s success more than IQ.
Persistent children can deal with challenges, carry on tough tasks, and overcome frustration. While some children can easily get overwhelmed by the demands at school and home, persistent children carry on and don’t easily give up.
As children grow older, they are expected to take on more responsibility. So teaching them early on about self-discipline and perseverance can help them overcome any obstacle that comes their way and help them succeed.
Ultimately, instilling persistence in young people helps build confidence as they learn that their efforts pay off if they stay consistent. It teaches them valuable life skills that will benefit them into adulthood.
Self-control is a key factor in the success of children. Research shows that those with greater self-control are more likely to succeed in many areas of life, such as school and social situations. Self-control helps children develop strong problem-solving skills and decision-making abilities, which can be hugely beneficial when dealing with challenging tasks or issues. It also helps them understand their feelings and emotions, so they can regulate themselves better when faced with challenging situations.
Self-control is vital for children’s learning, social development, and academic achievement. Those with better control over their impulses are more likely to pay attention and stay focused during lessons at school. They also tend to do better in tests as they can concentrate for extended periods. This is especially beneficial if a child finds it hard to get motivated to study.
How can children develop soft skills at home?
Developing soft skills do not happen overnight. It results from line-long experience and practice. While our children can develop these skills at school, there is no better place for them to learn these value than at home.
Here are helpful ideas on how you can help your children build soft skills:
1. Developing confidence in children
Develop confidence in children by providing unconditional love and acceptance. Give them positive feedback when they accomplish something or try something new. Praise should be genuine and specific so that the child knows exactly what they did right and feels encouraged to keep doing it. This practice will help create a sense of accomplishment, leading to higher self-esteem.
Another way you can foster confidence in your children is by encouraging them to take risks and try new things. Do not do their tasks for them or fix all of their problems. This will only make them think you don’t believe in their capabilities.
2. Encouraging curiosity in children
To build curiosity in children, try the following ideas:
- Give them open-ended toys and see what they can come up with. You can give them building blocks, animal figurines, and art materials like yarn, pebbles, popsicle sticks, and paint.
- Give them opportunities to explore their interests, which you can help support. Take them to places like art galleries, museums, and libraries. Watch a musical show, and travel with them.
- Model inquisitiveness. Instead of giving them answers, try saying things like “let’s see what happens” instead of saying, “that’s not going to work.” Ask questions like “What do you think of this?” or “How do you know?”
- Read them a book, watch a film with them, or observe surroundings and say “wonder statements” like “I wonder what happens next.” “I wonder what they will do.”
3. Instilling empathy in children
Here are some ways to inspire empathy in children:
- Talk to your children about how other people might feel or react in different situations. This way, they will become more aware of how their actions can affect others positively or negatively.
- Help your children recognize that all feelings are normal by asking questions like “How do you feel about that?” “You look sad. Did that upset you?”
- Share your own feelings to help create a safe space for them to share their emotions too. For instance, you say, “I’m not happy with how the story ends.”
- Read books together that focus on understanding emotions.
- Notice others together and point out how other people might be feeling, and ask if your child has felt the same.
4. Fostering integrity in children
To foster integrity in your children, it is essential to provide a safe and accepting environment where they can express themselves freely. Communicate openly with your children, so they understand the importance of honesty and respect for others. When faced with a difficult decision, help your child think through the consequences of their action while encouraging them to do what they believe is right.
Modeling honest behavior will also give your kids a good example of how to act with integrity; if you tell them one thing but do something else, they will likely follow suit.
It is also essential to recognize and praise your child’s good deeds. Mention and explain integrity in the process. This way, your child will understand more about the soft skill. For instance, you say, “You showed integrity because you did not copy your classmate’s homework.”
5. Building optimism in children
Optimism starts with us, and they adopt what they see in us. So if you want your children to be optimistic, you have to model the behavior. You have to assess your outlook – Do you usually see the better side of things? Do you tend to describe people, things, and events as good or bad and positive or negative? If you are an optimist, then great; but if you see pessimism, remind yourself to be more optimistic. Find inspiration by looking at the benefits of optimism for your own and your children’s well-being.
Other ideas to develop optimism in children include talking to them during bedtime and sharing what makes life great rather than focusing on the negatives. Encourage your children to find something positive in every situation, no matter how small it may seem. When they experience challenges or setbacks, remind them that mistakes are opportunities for growth and learning.
6. Developing persistence in children
You can help your children develop perseverance with the following strategies:
- Fight things that discourage children, such as expectations that are too high or too low and too much pressure.
- Remind them of the importance of trying more than the results. Remember to praise their efforts and not their intelligence, grades, or scores.
- Tell them that mistakes teach them lessons and help them grow.
- Convey to them that everyone makes mistakes and that mistakes do not define a person.
- Teach them to divide overwhelming tasks easier into more manageable ones. This will help them feel assured about finishing their tasks over time.
- Let them create a checklist of their tasks and complete the easier ones first to lessen stress.
- Small successes can encourage your child to keep going, so be sure to call out every little win or improvement they make than repeated failure.
- Set a timer that will help them stay focused on doing tasks. Be sure it’s tailored to their attention span to avoid exhaustion.
- Some children can get frustrated at things but cannot identify the reason why. Guide your child in identifying any misstep that may be getting in their way.
- Encourage your child to prepare positive statements so that they can remind themselves of these things when challenges come their way. For instance, “I may not be perfect, but I can get better if I try.”
- Do not do things for your children that they can do for themselves. Aside from developing persistence, this practice can help build confidence in children that contributes more to their success.
7. Reinforcing self-control in children
Teaching children how to have self-control requires patience and dedication, but the rewards are worth it. Here are some tips on reinforcing the soft skill in your children.
- Set boundaries and expectations for your children’s behavior. Make sure your child understands what kind of behavior is unacceptable and why it must be avoided.
- Lead by example by demonstrating good manners, politeness, and respect at home or in public.
- Give attention signals that will help children change their focus. For example: “Excuse me. I need you to listen to me for a while.” “Time to stop. Put your pens down.” “Are you ready to listen?”
- Use “pause prompts” that allow them to slow down and think. For example: “If you are frustrated and angry, count to 10 before saying anything.”
Developing and nurturing soft skills in children is essential for their long-term success. They are the foundation of a successful life, allowing your children to navigate the challenges of adulthood effectively. As parents, we should be aware of the importance of these skills and look for opportunities to encourage their development through different activities and consistent practices at home, as well as setting a good example.
If you want to prepare your child for future success in this ever-connected world, please check out TransCultural Group (TCG).