There is absolutely no doubt that every child needs an education. This will help prepare them for further studies in college/university or prepare them to join the workforce. However, while every parent wants their children to excel in school, you should be aware that academic performance alone is not enough.

In order to truly prepare your adolescent for success in higher education and also life as a productive adult, a solid knowledge-base in ‘hard’ skills (e.g. maths, science) are just the basics. Your adolescent’s future success in life and in his career will largely depend upon his ability to relate with other people, i.e. his soft skills. These are the skills that will determine how far he can go. Without them, his potential for growth will be limited.

Be all that he can

By helping your child/adolescent develop his soft skills early, he will have a better chance to hone them. Just like any other skill in life, practise does make perfect, so don’t force him to focus all his time on pure academic pursuits – make sure you slot in some time for him to develop his soft skills too.

This is especially important for adolescents as it will give them the chance to ‘find’ themselves by actively participating in their own development process. You should encourage your child/adolescent to learn how to think for himself. With the proper guidance, he will learn how to solve problems, make decisions, manage emotions, and be able to adapt to situations beyond his comfort zone.

This is one of the most powerful means of empowerment that any child/adolescent can have. However, developing the necessary soft skills takes time and effort, so get your child/adolescent started as early as you can.

An educational contribution by Malaysian Paediatric Association.