I’ve been teaching high school for the past 12 years and in that time, I’ve noticed a shift in what teens know, not only academically, but in practical situations. Verbal communication is down because of the ever-changing improvements to the cell phones. Knowledge is now at our fingertips and produced faster than we ever imagined. But even with all this technology and easy access, it’s imperative that we teach our children early on some practical things that will help them become successful. Keep in mind these are just a few ideas we can start early on. Each will have its own age level appropriateness for your child.
How to make a professional phone call and inquire about information.
I was surprised at how much my students don’t like phone calls. They will text and even FaceTime, but calling a business or having a professional phone call terrified many of them. It seemed as if they didn’t know what to say in a professional situation. For younger children, these conversations can be practiced in restaurants. Encourage your child to order their own food.
How to get home without the phone.
I was talking to a friend recently who said how as soon as she picks her pre-teen girls up from school, they immediately get in the car and get on the phone. She asked them one day if they knew the directions to get the home…and they didn’t. She was shocked and so was I. I realized then that my own 12-year-old probably couldn’t tell how to get from our home to my parents’ house which is just a 10-minute drive. My friend now makes sure her kids are aware of local landmarks and street signs in their neighborhood. This idea can come in handy in a dangerous situation or emergency and leads to my next suggestion.
How to be aware of their surroundings.
Many kids are so oblivious to possible dangerous situations. We have provided them with a cocoon of shelter from potential danger that they instinctively feel safe with us. We focus on the younger ages by reminding them “not to talk to strangers.” As our kids get older and gain confidence, that stranger-danger fear doesn’t feel like a likely situation for them. But every person we meet doesn’t always have our best interest at heart. Role play situations and find out how your kids might react. Teach them how to say no when they feel uncomfortable without feeling guilty.
How to properly introduce themselves.
Genuine face to face conversation is slowly becoming a dying art. Many kids now have serious social anxiety brought on by the pandemic. Being able to properly introduce yourself with confidence along with a solid handshake goes a long way. Provide opportunities for your kids to engage with new people without the phone.
How to be polite: “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Excuse me.”
You would think I wouldn’t have to mention this one, right? In my opinion, politeness should be non-negotiable, but so many young people don’t do this. I don’t think that it hasn’t been taught; it’s just not always reinforced. Being polite adds something extra to how people view you. You receive more opportunities, recommendations and support when people notice politeness. This definitely comes in handy for teens heading to college that need recommendations from teachers or other adults.
How to manage their money.
My kids are notorious for freely spending my money…even when they have their own. The time my 12-year-old does have cash, she is amazed at how quickly it goes. I’ve realized recently I haven’t been diligent with teaching her good money management habits. One way to do this is to invest in a Greenlight card. Greenlight is a debit card and money app for kids. Money can be loaded onto the card and spent as a debit.