Social Skills - Intentionally Embracing Awkwardness

I remember when our kids were little- like preschool little. An adult would come along- perhaps a family friend or relative, and talk directly to them, asking them a question. Our kid would freeze, instantly turn to look at us, and then we had to decide. Answer the question on their behalf and rescue them, or keep the pressure on them and let them figure it out. 

I’ve noticed lately that a lot of kids are much older and still get that deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces when I try to talk to them. Even more disturbing, if they’re around their parents, I see a lot of parents answer for them. I think that’s generally fine when your kid is four or six or eight. But when a kid is twelve, fifteen, or even older- that’s a problem. 

As we guide our kids through these tumultuous years, one skill stands out as a true game-changer: the ability to have thoughtful conversations. Trust me, I get it – the eye-rolls, monosyllabic grunts, and seemingly impenetrable walls of teenage communication can be maddening. But hang tight because the eventual rewards are worth the costs.

Why Thoughtful Conversations Matter for Your Teen's Future

  • Navigating the Professional World: While it might seem like eons away, your teenager's future career hinges on their ability to converse thoughtfully. Whether they're interviewing for their dream job or networking at a conference, knowing how to engage in meaningful discussions will set them apart. As adults, they'll be expected to articulate their ideas, ask insightful questions, and form connections – skills that can only be honed through practice.
  • Building Meaningful Relationships: Fast forward to adulthood, and your teen will be mingling at gatherings, meeting potential partners, and forming friendships beyond the classroom. The art of thoughtful conversation is the secret ingredient for creating deep and genuine connections. Engaging in discussions fosters understanding, empathy, and a sense of belonging – all of which are essential for maintaining healthy relationships.

The Importance of Adult Exposure and Uncomfortable Conversations

So, how do we prepare our teens for a future filled with purposeful dialogue? One key is exposing them to real conversations with adults. Engaging in discussions with grown-ups broadens their worldview and equips them with valuable skills. Encourage your teens to participate in family conversations, engage with your friends, and even join you in professional settings if possible. The more they observe and practice, the more confident they'll become.

Here's some advice that might sound counterintuitive: resist the urge to rescue your kids in conversations. It's natural to want to swoop in when they're stumbling or feeling uneasy, but consider this a prime opportunity for growth. Allowing your teenager to navigate tricky conversations on their own encourages resilience and self-discovery. Let them experience the discomfort of not having all the answers – it's in those moments that real growth happens.

Embrace Awkwardness, Foster Growth

Remember, growth doesn't come from comfort zones – it thrives in the awkwardness, the uncertainties, and the occasional flubs. When your teen is asked a question, and they feel their heart racing, don't be too quick to intervene. Let them grapple with the discomfort, formulate their response, and learn from the experience. Over time, they'll emerge with newfound confidence and the ability to hold their own in conversations, no matter how challenging.

In a world dominated by fleeting messages and emojis, the power of a thoughtful conversation is unparalleled. It's a skill that transcends the digital realm and resonates in the real world. So, as you guide your teenagers through the tumultuous sea of adolescence, don't forget to equip them with this invaluable tool. They'll thank you when they step into adulthood, ready to conquer the world with their words.

In the grand scheme of things, teaching your kids to converse thoughtfully might just be one of the most significant gifts you can give them. It's like planting a seed that'll grow into a mighty oak of connection, success, and confidence. So, fellow parents, let's embrace the eye-rolls and monosyllabic responses – our teens are on the brink of something extraordinary. And it all starts with a simple, meaningful conversation.


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