Dear Parents of Young Humans,
Please. I beg of you, please….teach your kids to talk to adults.
This is a skill that is seriously lacking in our youth today. As a teacher, coach and adult that interacts with a lot of young people because of my job and having 5 humans of my own, I can tell you that this is a lost skill.
There are ways they can practice…for example…Please have your kids order their own meals at restaurants. Demand they look your server in the eye and order their food in a tone people can hear while also remembering to use their manners. Please correct them when an adult says hello to them and they mumble “hi” under their breath rather than looking them in the eye and saying hello and asking them how they are in return (I have to do this one at least twice a week).
Please encourage them to talk to their teachers when they have a problem or get a grade they don’t understand. Please teach them that an email (while at times appropriate) or text, is not the best way to communicate with others. Face to face discussion is always better than email or text. Please teach your kids it’s not ok to interrupt two adults that are talking, it’s just common courtesy to wait our turn.
Please teach them to advocate for themselves in school and on the field or court. We will not be around forever to answer their questions or fight their battles for them. It is never too early (or late) to learn this lesson.
As a parent there are many challenges in this department. For example, there is a fine line between teaching our kids about the importance of not talking to strangers and people we don’t know while also teaching them not to be rude. As a parent it’s a challenge to teach your kids how to respond to adults that aren’t their parents or parents of their friends…but it’s so important.
I know that for me, it’s a constant work in progress. Every single day as we pull up at Sacred Heart I’m reminding our kids that they need to make sure to say good morning to whoever opens our car door. Sometimes even with this reminder they still don’t do it. It makes me crazy. But…I believe that with my reminder of the importance of it, it will become natural and eventually they won’t need the reminder.
I am talking to our kids on a daily basis about making conversation with others and how to talk to their teachers. One of our kids has already had a conversation with a coach about their role on a team. It was a challenging one for them to have…but THEY had it, not me or Bryan. This child was 9 years old at the time. We had to practice that conversation 10 times before they had the courage to do it. After that conversation they felt very proud.
We are robbing our kids of opportunities to grow in confidence and problem solving skills when we solve their problems or have their conversations for them. Bryan and I are not perfect in this department but we absolutely make it a goal to keep this as a top priority.
Being a parent is the hardest damn job in America and I know I constantly feel like I am missing things. But if we all do one extra thing, please let it be this. Kids cannot talk to adults any more and now, when you find one that can, it’s an anomaly. We adults that interact with kids a lot celebrate these people like they are some sort of circus act, when really, it should be a skill we equip all kids with!
I’m not suggesting that talking to adults isn’t hard or at times uncomfortable but it’s a necessary life skill and because of the culture we are living in where everyone’s head is buried in a phone…we are losing the ability to communicate properly and as a person that communicates for a living…it’s alarming.
For the record I’m also not suggesting that parents aren’t trying or that maybe their pleas are just falling on deaf ears, because I experience that myself. But keep trying, don’t give up because it feels like they will never get it. They will. Just like you eventually got to stop reminding them to say please and thank you. It happens. They just needs a lot of practice and constant reminders.
To give further perspective, just this week I had an email from a student that had no greeting and consisted of only one sentence. “when will my grade by updated”. It’s important to note that this student had turned in an assignment over a week late just the day before. I would also like to point out that the start of the sentence wasn’t capitalized and there was no punctuation…but I suppose I’m being nit-picky now.
Their message didn’t start with a “Dear Mrs. Dorsey” or “Hi Mrs. Dorsey”…nothing.
They didn’t even sign their name at the end of the email. It was a transactional message. I need something from you, I want it now, give it to me. I had wanted something from them too, their assignment, preferably on time, and their respect. I didn’t get either of these in this transaction.
I had another one just today that was similar in nature, “when is the DBQ due”. Again, no greeting, no sign off and no punctuation. That’s all the email said. Let’s not forget that this human being had been in class with me not an hour earlier when I reminded them of the due date for the 15th time or the fact that the due date is on the assignment posted on google classroom.
For the record, I don’t respond to emails like this. I delete them. Then I tell my whole class for what feels like the 100th time that if they want to talk to me about their grade, they must do so in person. I remind them that if they want to know the answer to a question I am fine with an email but that email needs to be formatted in an appropriate and respectful way. I won’t let them take the easy road. They must practice face to face conversation, at least in my class.
Emails like these ones are my new norm.
A teachers new “favorite students” are not the ones with the best grades or who answer all their questions but rather the ones that can engage them in conversation before or after class or in the hallways. Sadly, this student is becoming less and less common.
So, with that in mind, please encourage and teach your young kids how to talk to the adults in their life. I promise that is a skill you won’t regret arming them with for life!