There are those in the world that can walk into a room and everyone notices. My friend’s daughter is one of those people. She has a way of making everyone feel loved, important, interesting and heard. These individuals can capture your attention and entertain you with their stories. They are present and fun. After working in Corporate America for 13 years, I have recognized these are common traits of the leaders of organizations, the top sales people and the ones that are frequently promoted. Granted, there are other necessary factors such as education and experience but the art of human interaction is invaluable in work, in life and in relationships.
I fear for many children this is a lost art. At a young age children begin to grab cell phones from their parents: this interesting, blinking noisy toy that Mom and Dad love. TV, hand held games, iPods and so on have replaced the need for conversation. Car trips are made easier with DVDs and Playstation.
Where is the time to practice? When can they daydream and why would they want to when someone has already made something to watch. So many of my dreams were formulated when I had the moments to let my mind drift. Daydreaming as a child has become a useful in grown up terms as mental rehearsal. Coming up with car games and stories has made me a person that can make any situation fun (without gear!) Most importantly, many in my generation were taught early on a proper handshake, to look people in the eyes, how to be an active listener and how to acknowledge and be nice to people who cross your path regardless of their look, language or station.
I recently sat in on a friend’s nursery school class at a Montessori on the west side of Manhattan. To welcome each child to the class, she sat at their level, shook their hand and made sure there was eye contact. Little rituals such as these keep children engaged and teach them the importance of something as simple as a greeting. After years of work and visits to all sorts of offices, I can tell even as adults some of us can work on our morning greeting! The addition of simple rituals in your day is easy, free, fun and an amazing way to get to encourage your child’s inner coversationista.
Action Steps – here are a few ideas to get you started.
1.) On long car trips, make a deal. Try talking, games and family fun first, perhaps even a required time period without t.v. Ex (Geography Game, the license plate game, going on a picnic)
2.) Teach your child to acknowledge when someone joins the room or a conversation with a greeting or handshake.
3.) Instate some family rules – no electronics at the dinner table, time limits on TV, time limits on internet (this can even be automated)
4.) Have family game night!
5.) Read to your kid before bed.
6.) Model these behaviors yourself. If you don’t care neither will your child.
7.) Finally try everything! Go to museums, go outside, try foods and sports. This way once your child says hello…they will have plenty to talk about and share!!!!
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