Kathy McAfee, Guest Author
Larry’s Note: This is a great review for BIG kids too! 😉
Kids need to know more than Social Media to be successful.
Will your teenagers be ready to enter work world? Are they able to handle themselves in a mature and confident way with adults and hiring managers? How would they perform during a job interview over an meal? Do they know how to dress for success? Do they know how to network and communicate with people, other than their peers, in face-to-face situations?
A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2010 found that teenagers spend 53 hours per week on media. “Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.”
Erosion of social skills
In addition to the scholastic implications of this finding, I am personally concerned about the rapid deterioration and disappearance of basic networking and social skills amongst our youth. Many teens and many young professionals have little knowledge of how to conduct themselves in professional or more formal settings. Many of them have no sense of etiquette. How did this happen?
More than just reading, writing and arithmetic
In addition to reinforcing the importance of education, parents need to teach our children and young people basic networking skills to ensure that they don’t get left behind. Some colleges and even more progressive high schools are starting to introduce some classes in networking and career development. But most of these skills can be started in the home, when kids are very young.
The 14 social skills parents need to teach their children
Here’s what young people need to learn how to do in order to lay the foundation for future professional success. The good news is that you, as parents, can help teach them the vital life skills:
1. How to make proper eye contact with other people. Young people often feel intimidated when speaking to adults and will cast their eyes down to the floor when speaking. Encourage them to look you in the eyes when they speak. Show them how they can smile with their eyes when they speak. Help them notice when and how often other people blink their eyes or identify what color eyes the other person has. This will at least get them looking at the eyes.
2. How to shake someone’s hand. Teach young people how to give and how to receive a professional handshake. Have them watch videos or read tips on the mechanics of a professional handshake. Explain to them why the handshake is so important in our culture and what it can do for them. Encourage them to do it often when greeting people, versus using other gestures that are often associated with street culture. Practice the professional handshake with them and have fun with it. Don’t let them get away with a whimpy handshake. It will hurt their future prospects.
3. How to have good posture. Help young people become more aware of what poor posture looks like it and the negative impact it has on their image and body. Give them feedback on their unconscious body language habits that you observe and what signals it is sending to others. Teach them to use good posture and to stand grounded with both feet on the floor. This not only sends a strong confident image, it is also better for their health and energy levels. Discourage them from slouching at the table, desk, while standing. Find a way to make this a fun discussion, rather than a one-way nagging lecture. Make a game out of it.
4. How to use their voice properly. Help our young people find their voices and learn how to use them more powerfully. Explain to them why UpSpeak, the bad habit of turning sentences into questions when they were not meant to be questions, and why this diminishes their credibility and authority. Help them reduce or eliminate the use of overused phrases and distracting words like “like” or “so” or “um” or even “duh.” Teach them that “yah” is not a word. It is “yes.” And grunting in response is something that animals do, not humans.
5. How to have a conversation. Talk to your kids, a lot. Engage them in thoughtful conversation. Turn off the television more often and turn on the dialogue. Don’t let your children get lost for hours in the artificial world of video games, internet and cell phones. Teach them to art of story telling and the art of conversation. Practice it in the home, in the car, everywhere you go.
6. How to introduce yourself. Many young people are shy and afraid of introducing themselves to adults. They make jokes, jiggle or simple avoid the introduction altogether. Give your young people a simple script to follow until they are comfortable with impromptu introductions. It starts with “Hello. My name is ___________. What’s your name? Nice to meet you.”
7. How to answer the telephone properly. Don’t let your child answer the phone until then learn how to properly answer it with a greeting and introduction. Again, the basics “Hello. This is ___________. Whom am I speaking with?” The last sentence may seem a little formal, but it will give them important information on how to direct the call/caller. Don’t forget to train them on how to politely end the telephone conversation. “Thanks for calling. Goodbye.”
8. How to write a thank you note. Don’t let your kids receive gifts from others without them sending a handwritten thank you card through the mail in a timely basis. Don’t write the cards for them. Don’t let them get away with quick emails or phone calls that you initiated on their behalf. Even a 3 year old can draw something creative and scrawl their name on a piece of paper. The thank you card is an essential, basic form of appreciation and acknowledgement. It shows class and refinement. It is a social grace that needs to be taught by parents.
After every major gift-giving holiday, including birthdays, you should help your children schedule time to complete their thank you cards promptly. Equip them with stationery and note cards. Show them how to properly address an envelop and how stamps work. Check out SendOutCards.com/MotivatingCards for a way that your kids can write their greeting cards on-line and have them sent through the old-fashioned mail system. That best of both worlds!
9. How to eat in public. Remember that job interviews can be lost based upon sloppy table manners. This is often the final test in the interview process and few people are aware of it. Teach your child how to set a proper table, including which side the knife, fork and spoon go on, where the glass should go; how to cut their food and eat it with grace and ease. The best way to teach this is to practice it at your daily meals, taken together as a family.
I realize eating together as a family is becoming a lost tradition, replaced by stand up meals, busy schedules and television and electronic gadget distractions. One of the best that you can do for your children is to take the time to sit down and share a meal with them. Model excellence in your own table manners.
10. How to use polite language in company. Children will copy what they see and what they hear in the home, at school and on the street. While you can’t control every environment, you can control what goes on in your own home. Make the language in your own home a G rating – good for all audiences. Weed out the four letter words and use of slang. Do not tolerate racial jokes or inappropriate conversation. Model excellence in language and communication for your children in your home and in your community.
11. How to dress for success. The last I checked, underwear was supposed to be under there, not hanging out for the world to see and be grossed out by. Help your children take pride in the way they dress by setting a standard that you can both live with. In our family, it is collared shirts and belts Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, we allow appropriate level T-shirts and more casual wear. Sloppy dress carries over into a sloppy attitude and disregard for self and others. Teach your children how to groom themselves, including regular nail trimming, daily flossing and teeth brushing, combing hair and of course regular showers with soap and water.
12. How to be tidy and organized. Don’t let your kids live in your house and act like pigs. They don’t pay the mortgage or rent and thus they need to abide by your standards of clean and tidy. It starts with their rooms – how they manage their personal space. You can help them develop systems and structure to take better care of their things, their time and themselves. All of this carries over into their adult life. These life skills will not only impact the harmony of your home, but it will impact their academic success and future lifestyles. It’s time to clean up their act.
13. How to build relationships. Most kids have fleeting friendships with one minute being “my best friend” and the next minute “he’s not my friend.” Most kids are highly influenced by peer pressure and the need to be accepted by others. This can cause them to do things that they otherwise might not do. Perhaps this is part of the growing up process, but we as parents need to help young people get greater perspective on friendships and relationships.
We need to help them identify the healthy relationships from the unhealthy relationships and how to be both selective and open to meeting new people. We need to teach our children what it means to be a good friend, how to make new friends and how and when to let go of the unhealthy relationships.
14. How to talk to strangers and which ones to avoid. Perhaps this one may be the hardest one of all, because it goes against our protective instincts. We don’t want our young people becoming victims of bad people who might try to deceive them, lure them and hurt them. However, there are equally as many good people out there, if not more. You need to teach your children how to be comfortable around new people, how to strike up conversations with strangers, as this will be a useful skill for their future professional success.
Of course, we also need to teach our children how to trust their instincts, what good and bad touch looks and feels like and how to defend themselves if the occasion calls for it. I recommend that you expose your children to the martial arts, where they will learn basic self defense techniques along with the core values of respect, trustworthiness, polite, patient and modesty. As our young people mature, they will need to move in the larger world with confidence and connection.
About the Writer
Copyright 2011 – Kathy McAfee. Kathy McAfee is America’s Marketing Motivator and author of the book Networking Ahead of Business (Kiwi Publishing 2010). In her role as an Executive Presentation Coach and Motivational Speaker, Kathy helps her clients become the recognized leaders in their field by mastering the arts of high engagement presentations and more effective networking. Learn more at her Website: MarketingMotivator.net
Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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