The importance of teaching our children the right set of soft skills from an early age has never been greater in today’s globalised world, in which businesses, cultures and societies quite literally cross borders.
To instill in them what author Stacie Nevadomski Berdan refers to as a ‘global mindset’, parents must encourage and build qualities such as awareness and curiosity. The role of parents is instrumental in instilling the right attitude so that children can learn crucial interpersonal skills such as listening, empathy and compassion. They need to be encouraged to problem solve and think critically so that they can take decisions independently.
There are many resources that parents can use to stimulate a thirst for knowledge and the development of this global mindset. From books and magazines to video, audio and the web, there is a cornucopia of different formats to help our children learn in an engaging way. Galleries, exhibitions, museums, travelling to new countries – these are just some of the ways that children’s minds can be opened up to new stimuli.
Natural environment for learning
The communication and confidence building skills taught to them by their parents will stand them in good stead as they grow into the accomplished professionals and leaders of the future. They will know to respect socio-cultural differences, value and embrace diversity (one of the defining qualities of a global citizen, according to international charity Oxfam) and the importance of creating inclusive environments for everyone.
In her book, ‘The leader’s guide to influence – How to use soft skills to get hard results’, co-author Fiona Dent says that “People are at the heart of what most of us do on a day-to-day basis and the more we can learn and use skills that help us create and build effective relationships the more successful we will be.”
The parent-child relationship is fundamental in honing those skills. Children need to be coached and encouraged to expand their horizons. Exposure to different cultures, learning a wide variety of subjects, constantly questioning, observing, taking calculated risks – these are attributes that our children need to take on board if they are to expand their horizons and make a real impact in the world of work.
All these skills must be taught and can be nurtured. Every child can learn them. It starts with parents in the most natural environment in which children feel most comfortable and relaxed – their homes. As Berdan reminds us, developing a global mindset is an ongoing journey. And it’s meant to be ‘fun’.
These are the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect any official position of the Varkey Foundation.