Our children are constantly making decisions. Some are good, and some of them make us question what is going on in their little heads. As they get older, they learn, grow, explore and take risks along the way. It is so interesting to hear how they reason their way through life and through a process of self awareness and discovery.
This morning I had a precious yet out of the blue moment with my daughter. She had to take a story to school and chose Marvelous Me by Lisa Bullard. In preparation, I asked her to describe the book to me. She shared that it was about confidence and embracing who you are. She then said, “Mom, it’s like a can of soda pop.” Now this one threw me for a loop and I needed clarification for this one.
“Well, mom, if you open a can of soda and you don’t drink it or share it with someone, no one gets to have the goodness inside. So you have to drink the soda and share the soda leaving it in the fridge, open, it will just go flat and all the goodness is gone. It gets lost!”
I sat their stunned. Absolutely in shock. It was one of those rewarding parenting moments where you realize something has stuck. Sometimes parenting feels as though you are constantly throwing wet spaghetti at the wall and hoping it will stick! This morning, I thought, it’s sticking!”
This authentic moment opened the door for us to talk about whether others really get to see the people we are on the inside. We acknowledged that it isn’t always easy to be yourself at school or in other community environments, and that once we get older, it becomes easier to be ‘who we are’ no matter where we are. In the meantime, it’s important to have safe places and people with whom you can always be who are, without fear of judgment.
This highlighted for me, the timely reminder to see our children for who they are. All three of my children have wildly different personalities. How about your children? Helping them develop and embrace who they authentically are, doesn’t always come naturally, especially if qualities exist that aren’t in line with the expectations of a given environment.
Being willing to embrace and empower them as who they are will increase their confidence and give them the tools they need as they continue to grow and be seen within their own right in our world.
Here are my top 5 ways to support your child’s personality development.
1. Know what energizes them. Does your child appear to be more introverted or extraverted? Beyond this personality category giving us clues as to activities they will find fun and thrive in, these personality traits also let us know what energizes them.
2. Avoid labels. Allow your child’s personality to develop without labelling its perceived elements. When we label elements openly and verbally with them, they begin to think it is ‘who they are’ even if they aren’t.
3. Avoid comparisons. It is easy to compare siblings, or even compare your child to the way you were as a child. Allow them to develop in their own right, and not in anyone else shadow.
4. Encourage curiosity through play. Play is important beyond the early childhood years. Make opportunities for free time where children can play, be curious, and build on their interests.
5. Create a safe and judgement free environment. It’s important that your child has a place to take off his or her armour. School, whether primary or secondary, is full of social dynamics that they are learning to work through. Make your home a space that does not require a filter. Allow them to be who they are.
We have all met that dynamic and charismatic person that enters a room and commands your attention.. They are unforgettable. The ease in which they converse and network, and the positive energy which they emit beckon success. What do we call that? Is it charm? Is it being a good communicator? Is it that they have mastered how to make body language work for them? It is all of that. It’s their interpersonal skills.
As a soft skills trainer, I help my clients work on the glue. The glue, or soft skills, are what keep everything together. Your resume or your grades may get you an interview, but what is it that gets you the job? What sets you apart from other candidates, and once you get the job, what is it that helps you to keep the job? What helps you to be dynamic at making people feel at ease and appreciated in your presence. It’s your soft skills : your ability to understand yourself, human behavior, and how to make your personality work for the environment that you are in. Interpersonal skills are just this. Interpersonal skills are the everyday communication skills that we use when interacting with others.
Strong interpersonal skills add not only to professional success but also personal success. If you want to improve your interactions with others, the first step is a combination of self-awareness and an understanding of interpersonal skills. Firstly, being clear about who you authentically are is the first step to genuine communication. No one likes to feel as thought hey are having ‘fake’ interactions. We all want to converse whether personally or professionally with people we feel are ‘real’ or ‘genuine.’
This is an important desire to keep in mind when communicating. We then have to take stock of the way we communicate and interact both verbally and non-verbally. We have to make sure that the verbal and non-verbal messages that we are sending are in line with the impression of ourselves that we want to give. When one has an understanding of the power of interpersonal skills and how to make them work for their personality, it puts them in a league of their own.
Here are my top 5 reasons to be intentional about developing your interpersonal skills.
1. Powerful first impressions. Having an understanding of interpersonal skills makes you a powerful connector. First impressions have much to do with initial connection.
2. Understanding the difference between listening and hearing. Individuals with strong interpersonal skills are powerful listeners. Their listening skills set them apart.
3. The influence of non-verbal communication. One’s non-verbal communication doesn’t only have an impression on the person that you are interacting with, but it also has an impression on you as well.
4. Comfort with small talk. Small talk can be daunting. Individuals with strong interpersonal skills understand the levels of conversation and know how to move conversation along.
5. Influencing skills. Interpersonal skills are a big puzzle piece when it comes to influencing others, negotiating, and helping others understand your perspectives.
If you would like to learn more about the power that comes with understanding interpersonal skills and ways to use these skills to compliment your personality, join me on September 13thfor a half day workshop on Interpersonal Skills!
Interpersonal Skills training is also available on a private and group basis year round.
Our kids are back in school! Many parents, including myself, are happy to have their children back with their teachers and having their teachers guide their academic progress. Although I am an educator myself, I look forward to having someone else direct the academics of my children, so that I can focus on being mom.
As I have mentioned before though, parents are the first and only consistent teachers that their children will have. It is so important that we remember this and that we are intentional about the learning environments that we create in our homes. So even though our children have returned to school and they will soon have their nightly homework and their projects back in full swing, remember the power of the learning that happens in their daily home environments, and that learning is not necessarily driven by curriculum.
When our homes are environments that welcome learning as safe, fun and exciting, there are increased opportunities for learning. Our children become questioners. They become critical thinkers. They become explorers. They become comfortable taking risks and pushing the limits. When parents are intentional about having an environment that promotes inquisitiveness, diversity of experiences and they themselves understand that the work of childhood is to grow not only academically, but also emotionally, socially and physically… children thrive.
So as you prepare where your children will sit to do their homework, put some thought into the home learning that you want them to do: the learning that goes beyond their homework and their projects, and the learning environment that you direct. A child’s learning environment is not about the stuff that mom and dad can buy, but it is about the energy in the home and the vision that parents have for the overall development of their children.
Here are my top 5 ways to set up a dynamic learning environment.
1. Have a vision. Ask yourself what is important to your child’s learning process. How do you want to see them develop emotionally, socially, academically and physically? Keep this in mind as you are developing your current space.
2. Be intentional. When you are organizing the your space for your children, be sure to know your ‘why?’ If you are buying any materials, make sure you answer the ‘why?’ What is the purpose? If you are changing around furniture…what is the purpose? When you have a clear vision for your learning space it is a lot easy to make intentional choice.
3. Understand the value of play. Play is often highlighted as the work of childhood. Play is essential for a child’s overall development; play is a strong root of learning and it helps to develop a child’s creativity, problem solving skills and inquisitive nature.
4. Add to the positive environment with your joyful presence. Often as parents we can fall into the roll of task master, especially with evening homework. Find times where you can play with your child in their environment and allow them to direct it. Be there to support their learning, whether it’s through dress up, a board game, or crafting.
5. Notice their curiosity. Whether your child has taken an interest in coding or crafting, notice their interests and build on them in positive ways. At school the learning path is usually dictated by curriculum objectives. At home, you have the power to encourage your children to follow and build on what excites them. The best learning occurs when your child is excited about what he or she is learning.
Shifting Perspectives is a weekly conversation with Yolande. Yolande, a Canadian of Caribbean descent, now calls the Turks and Caicos Islands home and in this podcast challenges Caribbean woman worldwide to fuel themselves with diversity in the way they think, the way they work, the way they parent and the way they live.