Anxiety in adulthood is often a product of our own ignorance on how to handle social and emotional situations healthily.
The education systems of past generations considered skills such as communication or self-esteem as secondary.
“Life will teach them to be tough!” many parents argued and focused their attention on their child’s performance in subjects as mathematics or grammar.
Today, schools are still focusing on these hard skills.
Although we can see the gradual involvement of life skills in school curriculums, I always have the impression that they are doing it for the sake of it.
Because it is what the modern world is looking at. Because acclaimed schools do. Formal education is not teaching children soft skills because it considers them critical.
And that is the problem: we, the adults who build and decide on the curriculums, are not completely convinced that children’s life skills are important enough.
Before commenting on some soft skills I consider fundamental, I must say that this is not just the schools' fault.
Parents also need to absorb and embrace this information to allow a change in formal education.
See, soft skills not only get your child to be more aware of their value in the world but improve your parenting skills. It is a win-win business!
These are five life skills that schools are not teaching your child – or, at least, they don’t believe they are truly important for your child:
1. Communication (with themselves):
Communication is a broad skill that involves lots of other soft skills such as body language, gestures, articulation and can even affect performance anxiety and shyness.
Communication is such a big deal! I wish I had the opportunity to become aware of the ways I was communicating to others and myself.
The latter is especially important because we usually see communication as only a social skill but forget that one of the most important communicative dynamics is between you and you.
What are the ways you are talking to yourself? How do you treat yourself? What are the words you use to describe yourself? These things are never asked to children.
They are, very rarely, invited to look at the narratives they use in their inner worlds.
So, I ask myself, how can we even expect that children become effective communicators and listeners if their communication with themselves is erratic?
Self-confidence is underrated and is intimately connected to what I just explained about the lack of awareness of our communication with ourselves. Sounds weird but it is a fact.
The ways your parents, teachers, primary careers or loved ones talk to you in your childhood, shapes the way you see and value yourself in the future.
Language has an enormous power that even affects our self-love. Curriculums don’t really show children how to love themselves. I think they do the contrary.
The system of grades and labels that schools manage leaves self-confidence underground.
What schools are not considering is that the genius student who is brilliant at math won’t get very far if her self-confidence is buried.
All the knowledge we can acquire in school goes wasted if students don’t believe they are worthy.
Empathy is often recognized as one of the most important skills children start to acquire in toddlerhood.
It is a big development milestone because children transit from being egocentric to be aware there are other people around and that they care about these people.
This stage is marvelous and childcares, usually, do a great job in celebrating the empathy-learning process.
However, when children start school, empathy -and other life skills- start being pushed away and replaced by cognitive skills, often called hard skills.
I am not saying that hard skills are not important, what I am saying is that they are not more important than life skills.
When children lose exposure to empathy-focused environments, they lose opportunities to practice. With no practice, empathy, naturally, fades away.
4. Decision making:
In terms of decision-making skills, I believe we don’t focus on showing children the real value of this skill.
Yes, we want them to be independent and to make clever choices.
This is very important, but, do we teach them to own their choices? Do we tell them to love their choices? Do we empower them over their choices? Not really.
We focus on “learning from their mistakes” but not on how the choices make them feel.
I think this is a huge leak and void in this learning that result in adults being very confused and feeling horrible about their own decisions.
5. Personal finances:
Oh dear, this is a big one.
Personal finances is such a great field for children to be exposed to because our relationship with money does shape our financial performance in adulthood.
In my case, for example, I grew up with a very problematic relationship with money. Now, money gives me anxiety and I don’t have a clue nor the confidence to lead my financial life.
Personal finances are not mathematics or arithmetic's, it refers to how we see money.
Are children even asked about what money makes them feel? Or what do they think money is? I don’t think so, at least not seriously.
You probably know this already, but I am going to repeat it anyway.
Hard skills are marvelous to enrich our cognitive skills, yes. But, without a respectful and appropriate approach to life skills in childhood and teenager-hood, hard skills by themselves won’t let anyone truly shine.