Recently I had conversations with an older friend who had been at a family gathering on the weekend previously.
He said “All the young people at the lunch spent the entire time looking at their phones instead of engaging in conversation. It was just plain rude.”
Unfortunately the habit of checking smart phones in the company of others is a societal habit that is becoming more and more accepted. Just walk through any restaurant or coffee shop and you will see exactly what I mean!
In the book ‘Enchantment’ by Guy Kawasaki, he talks about how successful people, such as Richard Branson, have a way of engaging you in conversation and making you feel as if you are the most important person in the world. It is a skill that he has used in creating not only good relationships,
Learning how to interact with people, engage in conversation and above all develop great listening skills are strengths that will empower you for the rest of your life.
If our teenagers grow up without this critical skill it will impact not only on their ability to understand how to interact socially, but also could impact on future job and relationships.
It is now becoming more critical for us to teach our children how to foster and develop deep, meaningful and reciprocal relationships, and to learn how to interact in social situations.
Below are five quick ways in which you can help your child develop interactive people skills that will also help them to develop the ability to be enchanting!
1. Schedule Family Dinners with No TV!
Having regular family dinners without the television on is still the number one way children learn how to act appropriately, engage in meaningful conversation, learn good table manners and develop good relationships. Research shows that children whose families have regular family dinners do better in school, have better relationships with their peers and are less likely to participate in at risk behaviours. By insisting on family dinners where everyone participates not only in the conversation but also in preparation, (and the TV off) you are giving them one of the best interpersonal skills that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
2. No Phones at the Table!
A couple of years ago I accompanied my youngest daughter on a dance trip interstate. There were a number of parents also acting as chaperones. One night we all went to a beautiful restaurant for dinner. When we sat down –the first thing everyone did, adults included, was take out their phones and start ‘checking-in’ on Facebook or sending texts! I couldn’t get over how rude it was, and said so! One of the parents responded “Oh my goodness I just take this for granted now!” As parents we must lead the way and insist:
a. That nobody brings their phones to the table, ever and
b. Not to check Facebook or text whilst you are talking to others.
When you engage in checking your phone whilst in a social situation you send a message to those around you that you do not value their time, nor think they are important. Teach your child how to become a master at focusing on what people say and being 100% present when people are talking to them. It is a skill that will serve them very well in years to come.
3. No Earphones in the Car!
The 20 or 30 minutes you have with your children in the car when you pick them up or drop them off at school, or sporting events is priceless. Many wonderful discussions have taken place with my children just talking about news on the radio or things that have happened during the day. Ban earphones from the car on short drives and engage your child in conversation. Don’t despair if you only get grunts in return for the first little while – they will soon figure out that you mean business if you don’t give in.
4. No words in Anger on-line
Words can be very misconstrued and emotions misunderstood if you cannot be present physically to read the emotion behind it, and once you hit that ‘send’ button, nothing can be taken back. If your child is engaged in a disagreement with a friend – encourage them to either pick up the phone and talk or to meet in person. Most misunderstandings can be sorted out very quickly face to face.
5. Be your child’s role model
Our children often do not listen to what we say, but model what we do. Do not talk on your phone in the car when they are in the car. When you come home at night, turn your phone is off and be 100% present when you are with your children.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a stay at home parent, a part-time working parent or a full-time working parent, it is the quality of the time you spend with your child that they will remember, and you will remember it too! We are the wise mothers – the ones who are guiding the next generation of young people who will eventually be in charge of this world. The way we help them to develop good relationships is how they will interact with others throughout their lives.
Do you insist on certain ‘etiquette’ rules in your home? Do you have family dinner time? I would love your thoughts
Sally Thibault. Copyright © 2014.