Your Child’s Golden Ticket to Success in the 21st Century Job Market

The workplace of the 21st century is rapidly changing, and so are the skills required for young adults to be successful. Academics, experience, and certifications are some of the basic requirements your child will need to have to ensure they have access to the most sought-after jobs. No matter what line of work your child chooses, having access to the most desirable jobs in that field will also require that they have developed a specific set of skills that includes social-emotional skills. Research has shown that social-emotional skills formed in early childhood have an impact on a child’s future success and personal fulfillment in the workforce. To succeed in the modern workplace and find personal fulfillment, your child needs to possess social-emotional skills that can be nurtured both at home and at school and that includes skills such as emotion management, problem solving, and empathy.

Emotion management is important in the workplace in order to be able to adapt to and manage emotional situations. Being able to develop, lead, and motivate others can help an employee be successful. A typical manager spends 25% to 40% of his or her time dealing with conflicts between employees (Washington Business Journal, 2005). In order to resolve conflicts, your child will need to be able to notice, manage, and regulate their own emotions before they can help others do the same. At home, you can nurture this skill by helping them notice how their emotions feel in their body, and how to identify and name their own emotions. You can also help your child develop these skills by both broadening their emotional vocabulary and teaching them methods to calm and regulate their emotions when they escalate. Emotional regulation can be taught at home by incorporating breathing techniques, such as square breathing or by using a mindfulness practice with your child.

Problem solving, creativity, and innovation go hand in hand. The ability to face challenges calmly by thinking through a problem, brainstorming solutions, and trying them is a skill any employer will value. Using a framework at home, such as the Problem-Solving Steps, can help reinforce these critical skills. This process starts by having your child S: Say the problem, T: Think of solutions, E: Explore consequences, and P: Pick the best solution, based on your family’s values. When children learn early in life how to solve problems, they are more likely to devise new ways of thinking and doing things when they are older that will add value to the work environment.

Empathy is feeling or understanding what someone else is feeling. Empathy provides the foundation for positive interpersonal relationships and healthy communication. Empathy is an essential skill for being a leader in the workplace for many reasons, one of the most important being that it promotes trust. Being able to demonstrate that you hear, understand, and appreciate another person’s feelings and perspective builds trust. Empathic leaders are good listeners, are non-judgmental, and have high emotional intelligence. At home, you can nurture this skill by modeling and showing empathy when you interact with your child. So, when your child is having a rough day, is misbehaving, feeling frustrated, or is disappointed, make your first response an empathic one. For example, this might sound like, “Oh, no . . . ,” “Uh oh . . . ,” or “It’s so hard . . .”

Responding with empathy communicates to your child that you hear and understand them. When children feel heard, they’re more willing to listen, and are more open to understanding and identifying with another person’s perspective. Research conducted in 38 countries has found that managers who show more empathy toward those who report to them are viewed as better performers by their bosses. Thus, empathic leaders are viewed as assets to organizations, in part, because they are able to effectively build and maintain relationships—a critical part of leading organizations or workplace settings anywhere in the world.

By investing in your child’s social-emotional skills today, you will provide your child with a competitive advantage in what will continue to be an intensely competitive job market. By possessing social-emotional skills such as emotion management, problem solving, and empathy, your child will not only be prepared for the workforce, but also will experience higher levels of success and fulfillment in whatever endeavor they choose for themselves.


Washington Business Journal, May 2005.

Gentry. W. A., Weber, T. J., & Sadri, G. (2007), Empathy in the workplace: A tool for effective leadership [White paper]. New York, NY: Center for Creative Leadership. Retrieved from

Jones, D., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early social-emotion functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. American Journal of Public Health, 105, 2283–2290. Retrieved from