Interpersonal skills are essential for a student’s success, both in their academic journey and throughout life. Having the ability to communicate and work with others effectively is a valuable skillset for kids to start practicing at an early age. Here are Tutor Doctor’s tips to help your child develop interpersonal skills!
1. Good communication starts at home. As parents, we should always encourage our children to express themselves. Part of developing interpersonal skills is beginning to understand the mental process of internally conceptualizing a thought, and then externally communicating that idea to others in a way that can be clearly understood. When children express their opinions – and voice their frustrations – they are practicing this important process of translating what they feel (emotions) into words.
2. Discuss the different ways we communicate with one another. Besides vocal communication, there are plenty of other ways we express ourselves. See if your children can brainstorm other ways one might convey a feeling or emotion without using words. Non-verbal communication, for example, can be just as important as spoken language. With younger kids, try making facial expressions and ask your kids to identify the emotion they are interpreting – or, ask them to show you what an emotion looks like without using words. In many ways, non-verbal communication is more powerful – whereas languages differ from region to region, non-verbal cues (like smiles) are universal.
3. Encourage hobbies and interests. When it comes to making friends, it’s a lot easier to communicate if you have a shared goal with the other person. Encourage your kids to sign up for clubs, programs, and activities that peak their interests. By doing this, they’ll be interacting with other individuals that share a common topic they find appealing. From team sports to dance classes, sharing a mutual group interest can greatly help children to develop their interpersonal skills.
Note: Due to current social distancing guidelines, students may not be able to physically attend these activities right now. We recommend seeking virtual alternatives, like online hobbyist communities, social media groups, and web-based interactive platforms.
4. Guide them through difficult times. When our children are frustrated or upset, it can be harder for them to communicate effectively. This is especially true in the case of disagreements or arguments with another individual (perhaps a sibling). Encourage your kids to use “I” statements about how they feel, and to explain why the situation is bothering them. Most importantly, remind your kids that there are two sides to every story, and that understanding where another person is coming from can change our perspective. With that in mind, we move on to our next tip...
5. Teach them the importance of empathy. When we think of communication, we often consider how we outwardly express ourselves. However, listening skills are just as important – both in our personal and professional relationships. When dealing with strong emotions, encourage your children to practice mindfulness. Asking open-ended questions is an excellent way to get kids to dig deeper. Why did this situation arise? What was the other person’s reasoning? Can you see why they might feel that way? Is there a compromise that will work for everyone? When it comes to developing interpersonal skills, being able to understand others is just as important as being able to express yourself. For more information on this topic, check out our blog “Why Teaching Your Child Empathy Is Important.”