Interpersonal skills are essential for any child throughout their life, especially when it comes to their academic journey. Being able to communicate effectively, listen well, problem solve and have compassion is a valuable skill set that will last your kids their whole lives! That’s why it’s important to help your child develop their interpersonal skills at a young age, so they can grow up being able to speak respectfully, listen carefully, and pay attention to nonverbal communication. Here’s some tips to help them develop this important skill set.
Set An Example Of Good Interpersonal Skills
Most children will learn by watching how you and others interact, which is why it’s so important that you try and set an example of good interpersonal skills. This includes actively listening to others, speaking clearly, calmly and not interrupting. For example, if you have a disagreement with someone, show that you can work things out together in a mature, adult manner, rather than shouting and getting irate. When you are modelling good behaviour, it’s also a great idea to reinforce this with your child, explaining why you are choosing to interact in that specific way. Finally, demonstrating active listening when your child is talking to you is crucial. By letting them finish their thoughts as well as asking them questions shows that paying attention to others when they speak is an important part of interpersonal communication.
Discuss Different Ways Of Communicating
It’s important to make your children aware of all the different ways of communicating, especially as there’s plenty of ways we can express ourselves. Start by asking your child to create a mind-map of all the ways someone might express a feeling or emotion - this can include verbal and non-verbal communication methods. You could even try making facial expressions, asking your kids to identify the emotion you’re showing. Make sure you take some time to discuss each, specifically focusing on non-verbal communication as it has a much higher chance of being misinterpreted. For example, a facial expression, unspoken tension in a stressful moment or hand gestures can all be observed and interpreted. However, this can be tricky for some children, especially if they’re not aware of it. The more practice and observation they get the better!
Discuss Feelings Regularly
When your child is upset or frustrated, it can be tricky for them to communicate effectively. To combat this, try to encourage them to talk about their feelings regularly, explaining why the situation is bothering them. A good way to do this is to encourage them to use sentences that start with "I," instead of "You." For example, ask your child to say "I’m upset that I have to do my homework" instead of "You made me upset because you said I have to finish my homework." This will help them not only communicate clearly, but teach them that expressing and listening to other’s feelings are important skills.
Encourage Kids To Consider Others
When it comes to developing interpersonal skills, being able to understand and consider others is just as important as being able to express yourself. Teaching your child simple ways to consider others during conversations is a key skill that will stay with them for life. For example, reminding your child not to interrupt others when they’re speaking, as it’s polite to let them fully express their thoughts and opinions. It’s also a great idea to discuss how there are always two sides to every story, so they should take the time to listen to someone else’s perspective. Finally, explaining to your child what is and isn’t appropriate when talking is crucial, as it’s important for them to be aware that some topics are off limits.