The workplace place of the 21st Century is rapidly changing, and so are the skills required for young adults to be successful. Academics, experience, and certifications are some of the basic requirements to ensure your child has access to the most sought-after jobs. No matter what line of work your child chooses for him/herself, getting access to the most desirable jobs in that field is also going to require a specific set of skills that includes social-emotional skills.
Research has shown that character skills formed in early childhood impact a child’s future success in the workforce. To succeed in the modern workplace and find personal fulfillment, it is critical that your child possesses social-emotional skills that can be nurtured at both home and school such as emotion management, problem-solving, and empathy.
Emotion Management is important in the workplace in order to adapt and manage emotional situations. As an employee, it will be desirable that your child possesses the ability to develop, lead, and motivate others. A typical manager spends 25-40% of his or her time dealing with conflicts between employees (Washington Business Journal, May 2005). In order to do this, your child will need to be able to notice, manage, and regulate their own emotions before they can help others do the same. At home, you can nurture these skills by helping them to notice how these emotions feel in their body, and to identify and name their own emotions. You can also help develop these skills by both broadening their emotional vocabulary and teaching them methods to calm and regulate their emotions when they escalate. Emotional regulation can be taught at home by incorporating breathing techniques, such as square breathing or using mindfulness practice with your child.
Problem-Solving skills, creativity, and innovation go hand in hand. The ability to face challenges calmly by thinking through a problem, brainstorming solutions, and trying them is a skill any employer will value. Using a framework at home, such as the S.T.E.P. method, can help reinforce these critical skills.
This process starts by having your child Say what the problem is, then helping your child to Think of solutions, Explore what the consequences or outcomes might be of each solution brainstormed, and lastly, letting your child Pick the best solution, based on your family’s values. When children learn early in life how to solve problems, they are more likely to devise new ways of thinking and doing things that add value to the work environment.
Empathy is the ability to feel or understand what someone else is feeling and is the foundation for positive interpersonal relationships and healthy communication.
Empathy is an essential skill for being a leader in the workplace for many reasons, one of the most important being that it promotes trust. When you are able to demonstrate that you hear, understand, and appreciate another person’s feelings and perspective; it builds trust. Empathetic leaders are good listeners, are non-judgmental, and have high emotional intelligence. At home, you can nurture this skill by modeling and showing empathy when you interact with your child. So, when your child is having a rough day, misbehaving, frustrated, or disappointed, make your first response an empathetic one. For example, this might sound like, “Oh no…”, “Uh oh…”, or “It’s so hard….”
Responding with empathy communicates to your child that you hear and understand him or her. When children feel heard, they’re more willing to listen, and more open to understanding and identifying with another person’s perspective. Research conducted in 38 countries has found that managers who show more empathy toward direct reports are viewed as better performers by their bosses. Thus, empathetic leaders are viewed as assets to organizations, in part, because they are able to effectively build and maintain relationships—a critical part of leading organizations anywhere in the world.
By investing in your child’s social and emotional skills today, you will undoubtedly be providing your child a competitive advantage in what will continue to be an intensely competitive job market. By possessing social-emotional skills such as problem-solving, empathy, and emotion management, your child will not only be prepared for the workforce but also experience higher levels of success and fulfillment in whatever endeavor they choose for themselves.
Washington Business Journal, May 2005.
Gentry. W. A., Weber, T. J., & Sadri, G. (2007), Empathy in the Workplace: A tool for effective leadership [White paper]. New York, NY: Center for Creative Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.ccl.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/EmpathyInTheWorkplace.pdf
Jones, D., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early social-emotion functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. American Journal of Public Health, 105, 2283–2290. Retrieved from http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2015.302630
This blog post was originally published on the Committee For Children Blog on May 24, 2017