Teach Children About Public Interaction

Rather than make arrangements for your kids, teach them how to communicate with public officials in business and social situations.

An area that many parents overlook in their children's training is public communication. Parents call to inquire about bus schedules, job openings, and product availability when many kids of adolescent age or older can manage such tasks for themselves. Here are sample situations where your children can learn to interact with public officials to develop strong communication skills:

1. Contact stores for product and service information. If your 12-year-old is saving allowance to buy a particular video game, have him call several local electronics dealers to ask about the game's availability and price. Store hours and special discounts are other types of information that should be asked. Your child will learn not only how to make a proper telephone call to a commercial enterprise, but how to comparison shop for the best deal.

2. Visit websites for travel and map information. Kids can learn to navigate sites like MapQuest to plot vacation destinations. Then they can go to a specific tourist site to submit questions about the attraction or fun things to do while there. You can help adolescents or teens look up phone numbers for amusements or restaurants and then call those places for information about offerings and prices. In this way kids can help to plan a family vacation and learn where to find useful information.

3. Read books and enter personal reviews. Sites like Amazon.com and other reading or book sites provide sections where readers of all ages can enter a review for the book they have recently enjoyed or disliked. You can help train your kids to write sentences and descriptions that others can understand and appreciate. Sharing ideas with unknown readers is a great way to polish communication skills.

4. Write a letter to a newspaper or magazine editor. If your teen indicates interest in a current event article in your city's newspaper or magazine, encourage her to write a letter to the editor expressing her ideas that agree or disagree with those in the publication. This activity helps to reinforce critical thinking skills and strengthen personal ideas for public readers. Suggest drafting the ideas in rough format first, then reviewing them for editing and revising as needed. Clip and save the letter if it is published.

5. Take your child to visit a public official. Make an appointment to meet with a city council representative, the mayor, or even a state leader. Have him prepare a question to ask or a point to be made, such as a concern about the school in which he is enrolled, or the condition of the metropolitan park system where soccer practice is held. Face to face communication of this type teaches kids how to focus and frame their ideas for sharing with public authorities.

Children also learn by example, so be sure to explain or demonstrate your own methods for dealing with the public on a wide range of issues, such as contacting an electrician for a repair quote or discussing a bad grade with the instructor. Effective communication is a building stone of adult success, so give your children an early and solid start by providing guidance in this critical area.

© High Speed Ventures 2011