Training Your Kids to Interact with Adults

We want to talk a little bit about why it’s important to train your children at a young age how to interact with adults. I think this is a really specific area of training, but it has huge payoffs and huge consequences either way. There’s so many opportunities to do this, and obviously when the kids are two, three, four, you’re going to see their personalities, their shyness, some of their anxieties.

It’s really important to be talking to your children and trying to help them through that process of feeling safe, interacting with your friends, people that are close to your family. You can start by training them how to interact with grandparents, but it makes a big difference when kids can look an adult in the eye, talk to them, ask them a question, and think about what’s at stake.

I think that the way that this has been framed is if you teach kids to be kind, respectful, and how to interact with adults, that’s respectful to the adult, but if you just let kids follow their impulses and if they’re grouchy, let them be mean or rude or whatever, that’s better for the kids. I kind of feel like that’s the way some people think about this. Let me talk about it from a little bit different angle.

That is if you train your children to really engage with adults, train them to be comfortable around adults that are close to your family in such a way that they become really attractive to the adult, and they can form some kind of relationship. I think that is absolutely in the best interest of the child primarily. We’ve seen this over the years with our family. Because what happens is that when an adult really begins to take an interest in your child, again, somebody you totally trust, somebody who is close to your family, they can open up new avenues of the world to your child.

Some of the best relationships, some of the best mentoring that our kids have ever received has come from our friends taking an interest in our kids because they are fun to interact with. When somebody comes over to our house, a stranger that our kids don’t know and we want to introduce them to our children, we want our kids to get to know this adult. It’s not difficult. They quickly build relationships with adults. In fact, Jeff, as you know, so our kids go to public school, maybe two to three years out of their kindergarten through 12.

Probably in the first week or two, the first thing our kids are constantly dealing with is they cannot believe how disrespectful their peers are to adults. Again, when I see that, when I hear that, I think that we have to look at that primarily through the lens of how much that is limiting our children’s opportunities in life, their opportunities to be mentored, their opportunities to develop relationships with people that are far wiser than them and all of the way that that can cascade into what direction they can take their life.

I can go on about the impact this has had on our children and how many people have impacted them because they’re really enjoyable to invest in, right? Jeff, how do you think about this?

I mean, I think it’s just so important too, and I think we’ve talked about one thing in family teams too is training’s not just important to get kids to do something. I think sometimes we do it for a consumer-based reason of I just want this or whatever. I think what we’ve said before is we’re not just training or parenting to our kids, we’re parenting through our kids, meaning like you have to believe that this is about a hundred-year legacy or that this is actually about how they will impact the world.

We know and there’s other examples and parallels of how you parent in a way, or even like live in a way at your work or whatever, where you’re just doing it for the short term, just enough to kind of get by, or just enough to do this. Here’s another way to put it. Someone at a job, I think, is going to train an employee very different than someone who they know is going to take over the company in 20 years. That’s an entirely different training regimen, right?

Another way to put it as like a king and a queen, right? A prince is going to get a very radically different training regimen than maybe one of the guards at the door. You know what I mean? I think we treat kids like the guards at the door of just do this job, just here’s the bare minimums and just be good, right? No, no. A prince is a king in training that actually is apprenticed for like 20 years because you know they have to run a country sooner or later. I just think that radically changes how you train kids and why it’s so important.

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