Summer is a season that often tempts us to switch off and simply go through the motions, but it presents a valuable opportunity for intentional growth and reflection. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, the impact of the COVID shutdown on college seniors entering the workforce was highlighted. Many of them missed out on crucial socialization and professional preparation due to remote learning. This emphasizes the importance of teaching our teenagers essential life skills.
One critical skill that sets individuals apart is the art of conversation. Engaging in thoughtful, meaningful conversations is becoming increasingly rare among younger generations. However, it is a skill that can greatly benefit their personal and professional lives. Fortunately, we can play an active role in helping them develop this skill.
The WSJ article noted the source of the problem college grads face as they enter the workforce, and it’s also a key to the solution. The author states, “The missing piece for young professionals who have graduated since 2020, in fact, has been no real proximity to mentorship and leadership, recruiters say.”
Modeling is key. Allow your children to observe you engaging in conversations, whether in professional or social settings. They can learn by watching and listening to how you navigate different topics, handle conflicts, and maintain respectful communication. Additionally, challenge them to speak up in social settings, even if they feel awkward or nervous. Resist the temptation to rescue them and instead provide opportunities for them to express themselves and participate actively.
After social interactions, debrief with your kids, too. Encourage them to reflect on their experiences, asking questions like how they felt during the conversation or what they noticed about the topics discussed. This debriefing process helps them learn and grow, fostering their ability to engage in future conversations fully.
By intentionally teaching our teenagers the art of conversation, we equip them with a valuable life skill that extends beyond professional success. It allows them to connect with others on a deeper level, develop empathy, and navigate relationships effectively. In today's digital age, where face-to-face interactions are diminishing, the ability to engage in meaningful conversations becomes even more crucial. Let's seize the summer as an opportunity to empower our kids with this essential skill that will benefit them throughout their lives.
So here’s the question to ponder: Does your kid know how to engage in a thoughtful, adult-like conversation yet? If not, what will you intentionally do to equip them?
For years we’ve been studying what a young person needs in order to transition into a healthy, thriving adulthood.
They're uncommon sense ideas, really.
Download this checklist and use it with your students (or kids).