smiling teenager with parents

10 Skills Teens Need to Succeed

When your child leaves home, replacing the school book bag with the briefcase, what skills do you want him to master?

French boys off to school

Probably reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Yet when we ask this question in our Positive Discipline parenting classes, moms and dads don’t even mention the 3R’s.  Parents focus directly on the Soft Skills like

Confidence.

Search for excellence.

Tolerance.

Wise Decision-Making.

Where are the Teens with Skills to Thrive?

Employers agree these are the traits that lead to success.  They also lament that entry level students lack Soft-Skill-Savvy.

PayScale, the largest salary level database in the world, reports a major disconnect between what employers seek in their entry level students and what universities teach.  A whopping 50-55% of college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed!

The skills employers seek are the hardest to find as per the Employment Gap study by Millenial Branding & Experience, Inc.

Employable skills, where art thou?!

Students may have mastered Algebra and Molecular Biology, but they’re tottering in Teamwork and Self-Management.

Teens are concerned and so are their parents.  That’s why Harvard Business School alumni who are also parents listened in on Marie Schwartz, founder and CEO of TeenLife, as she presented the 10 Skills Teens Need to Succeed.  (The slide above is from her material)

Here is Schwartz’s list of Skills to Succeed:

  1. Drive/passion
  2. Independence/Self-Management
  3. Time-Management/Prioritization
  4. Interpersonal Skills
  5. Cultural Awareness
  6. Verbal & Written Communication
  7. Teamwork & Collaboration
  8. Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving
  9. Technical Know-How
  10. Grit/Determination

 

How will our children learn these skills to thrive?

The way you and I parent matters.

Even with the best intentions, we moms and dads can alienate our teens (and teach them to reject our values)…or we can connect with them and give ourselves a chance to keep training our kids in positive skills.

Our parental responses teach our kids.  What will they learn?

Teen lessons: “I better not get caught next time.” & “Am I REALLY capable?”

OR

smiling teenager with parents
Teen lessons: “I am loved even when I’m not perfect.” & “I’ll do my best to be worthy of their trust.”

 

I don’t have time to teach these skills!

Too much on your plate already?

It’s not a matter of “adding to your plate.” Try doing some of the same tasks DIFFERENTLY.

Here’s an example (and one day I will write 5 ways to Teach Teen Skills without Taking more Time)

    1. Build Confidence through a Household Chore
      The children are needed and the family counts on them. “Darling, I NEED my table setter to do his job BEFORE the beans burn!”
    2. Teach Respect & Humility through another Household Chore (!)
      It’s hard to treat Mom like the maid when the kids vacuum too!
    3. Practice Teamwork through…a Family Team Clean!!! (on the SoSooper App)
      Intentionally develop a culture of collaboration. “Family helps family. It’s what we do.”
    4. Encourage Love of Excellence & Self-Evaluation by Inspecting the Household Chore
      “An O.K. job of cleaning the sink is when there are no pink toothpaste smudges. A super clean sink has shiny chrome.  What quality job have you done?”
    5. Instill Self-Management by kindly and firmly insisting on Household Chore…
      “Sweetheart, we said you may play with you friends WHEN the laundry is folded. How is the laundry now?  (in the dryer) Then you know what to do.”

    (You guessed that I believe in inviting the children to participate in household tasks.)

    Transmitting life skills to kids requires parent passion and grit more than it requires money or even time.

    Transmitting life skills to kids requires parent passion and grit more than money or even… Click to Tweet

    Where and how to start?

    That’s where parent coaching can come in handy

    • To identify the family-helping tasks that truly make life easier for the parents AND are age-appropriate for the kids
    • To share ways to on-board the children so that they feel engaged and want to participate
    • To get YOUR reminders remember to follow through the children
    • To learn tools to present your requests so that children listen
    • To follow through effectively and avoiding power struggles

    Drop us a line

Girl doing laundry

When chores help build strong relationships

Today, the Louvre museaum exceptionally closed its doors to protect its treasures.

Rain, rain, go away.  It’s been raining in France for weeks.  The Seine river is overflowing, and muddy water oozes into homes…and even into the treasure-storing basement of the Louvre Museum, the most visited museaum in the world.

There is a parallel for our families:  How could we parents protect our emotional treasures such as our relationships?  

This family built strong relationships by turning “Chore Time” into “One-on-One Time” and generated more “Free Time” for everyone to enjoy together.

Relationship warning signs

What are your and my family treasures? How are you and I preserving them?

My most precious resources are relationships and time.  Time flies.  Love lasts.

But let’s be practical.  There are 24 hours in a day and too much to do in that limited time.

And the most tension-filled moments often involve the kids!

  • Getting them out the door in the morning
  • Managing bath, homework, and cooking dinner simultaneously
  • Tucking the children into bed when I’m exhausted myself

Oh, oh.

Beware of tell-tale signs of flooding of feelings when tears flow hard and anger spurts in spouts.

Feelings overload
Feelings overload!

It’s O.K.  What if these moments when we feel close to failure are really invitations to step back and re-assess?

I realized I was doing all the work around the house while my husband was still in the office and the kids were playing.

How could this change?

The easiest fix lay in delegating chores to the kids.

Chart with chores for kids
Simple chore chart with pictures of children doing their chores. Clips with initials indicates who does what & rotate every week.

Create a Chore Chart that Works for YOU

We set up a simple system using a chore chart to facilitate communication and accountability.  We selected four tasks, one per child, to be completed daily for one whole week.   Then the children rotated jobs.

Four boys = Four delegated chores.

(Read more about Chore Charts and how to make them work for you here)

Quality One-on-One Time Doing Chores

To my utmost surprise, chore time presented myriads of opportunities for one-on-one exchanges.

As the mother of four children I often felt guilty for not spending time with each child on a regular basis.  I couldn’t find the “extra” time.

By delegating chores, every evening, one child and I would be work side by side for a few moments in the kitchen.  We learned to make them precious.

As Table-Setter-of-the-Week  laid out the forks and knives, I would learn about the boxing match during recess…from his perspective.

Between spinning salad and slicing carrots we explored ways to make up with his friend or to avoid bullies.

Another pair of hands might venture into Kitchen Territory during these discussions to be greeted with, “We’re having a Rendez-Vous.  Please come back later.”

The other kids left us alone, knowing that as they honored the sibling’s “Rendez-Vous”, they would benefit from the same respect in turn.

Opportunities for Gratitude and Encouragement

Inspecting our children’s work presented another opportunity for relationships boosting.

Are you too the type of parent who asks the kids to do things…and forgets to mention anything when the children follow through?

When I began to intentionally check on the quality of the children’s chores, our family grew both in appreciation of each other and in jobs well done.

“I noticed you emptied the trash without my having to remind you.”

“This table is so neatly set.  It looks welcoming.  Thank you.”

[bctt tweet=”In verifying the children’s efforts, I expressed gratitude and my behavior became a model for them.”]

We also engaged in conversations about “quality of work,” noting the difference between emptying the dishwasher carefully or breaking plates in the process!

In checking chores we FIRST noted what was done well…as the children warmed up to chores they openned to learning how to improve. Together, we sought the best for everyone.

More Free Time

Less chores for mom translated into more time for playing cards after dinner and reading stories at bedtime. 🙂

Mom playing cards with kids
Work together more. Play together more!

Keeping Relationships Precious

How are you making time to bond with your child?

You might not need additional hours to your day…just another way to use the hours you and your children share together.

Your attitude sets the mind frame of your children.

“Chores” can have many definitions.  It can mean work.  Chores definitely signify sharing, quality time, gratitude, and encouragement.

Discover here Home Is Fun’s ways to get children to WANT their chores!

 

Cover photo by Nik MacMillan & emotionas by Cassidy Kelley on Unsplash.

Encourage Appropriate Behavior in Kids: Parenting Tips inspired by Snow!

It has been snowing all week.  Every day.  All day.  Every night.

We go to the mountains to have snow, but deeeeep down, here is my real wish:  I awake every morning to optimal ski conditions.  Abracadabra.

Snow fall, ski slope grooming, and snow plowing would have all happened during my sleep 🙂

Do parents have a similar wish for their children’s good behavior?

Mom or Dad ask for a clean room.  Like magic children’s toys are put away, the floor in spotless, the books are neatly stacked on the bookshelves, the bed is made, and the desk is cleared and ready-for-work.  “Aussitôt dit.  Aussitôt fait.”  Say the word, and it’s done.  Just to our liking, no less!

No need for any teaching, training, or follow through!

We moms and dads must have received our parenting tips straight Mary Poppins and Nanny MacFee.  Or maybe our children were born with an innate understanding of what parents consider appropriate behavior…

Ski cabin "Shelter" in snow
“Abri” means shelter

Children skiing and falling in snow

Cars covered in snow

Appropriate Behavior – Down to Earth Parenting Reality

Just as we adults benefit from training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to be able to behave well.

[bctt tweet=”Like adults who get training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to  perform well. “]

Think about it.  Did our sons and daughters clean their room in the womb?  Did our babes learn proper table manners at the breast?

We parents often teach through discipline.  We tell our kids what is wrong.  “Your room is messy.”  “Elbows off the table, please.”    

How do they find out what is desirable behavior?  Is there a more appropriate and encouraging way than through trial and error?

Would you like your boss to keep on telling you, “NO,” until you get it right?  How motivating is that?!

Snow Inspired Parenting Tips for Teaching Kids

1. Enjoy the magic of NOW

Earth stills when snow falls. 

Sounds are muted.  Senses are chilled.  Worries from the office seem faaaaaarrrrrr away.

These extraordinary apprenticeship years of our kids are precious and last such a short while.   Sooner than later our kids graduate and move out.

What life skills and talents do our children take with them as they go out on their own?  THIS is our parenting vocation.

My mother is celebrating a BIG birthday and we are writing her letters of thanks.  I realized that I have many more memories with her AFTER having left home than while I was a child.

The birthday parties I recall through photos.

Here is what I remember through experience and which lives in my soul:  the ambiance of love, the assurance that she had time for me, and her belief in my potential (especially when I acted out of line).

These qualities are communicated by savoring the present.  The magic of small successes.  Noticing appropriate behavior.  Appreciating hard work.  Encouraging me to persevere.

Aren’t those life skills you wish to pass onto your darlings?

Happy grandma cuddling children

Loving grandmother keeps grandkids coming home

 

Admiring grandmother taking photos

2. Slow down before crashing

I love skiing FAST.

Except when there is no visibility and I wonder if I am about to speedily crash and plant my face into fresh powder.

When it snows, it is time to slow down.  Just a tad.

When your child misbehaves, might it be an invitation to shift into a lower gear? 

  • What is the cause of the inappropriate behavior?
  • Do the children even know exactly what is expected of them?
  • Do they have the capability of carrying out those tasks?
  • What could help them succeed even better?

In manufacturing circles, we refer to a bottleneck: THE operation that slows the entire process down.

No matter how much we improve other aspects of the manufacturing cycle, the process will only improve when we address THAT critical juncture.

Where is the weak point in your child’s ability to carry out your request?  Slowing down helps you observe your sweethearts and identify their appropriate behavior “bottleneck.”

Are they not listening to instructions?

That’s a sure guarantee of misbehavior!  So, the parenting issue to address is getting their attention before giving instructions.

Bend down to their level, make eye contact, smile, and THEN stipulate, “Honey, it is time to clean your room.”

Do the toys not have a home?

Playthings are tumbled into a box.  To reach that one desired game, your child rummages through the entire stack (a.k.a. dumps them all over the floor).  The issue is too many toys or finding a better way to store games.

“Sweetheart, you like a comfy home.  Your toys want to be more comfortable too.  Here are two boxes: toys-at-home and toys-on-vacation.  Do you want to choose which toys go on vacation this week or should I?  YOU can change every weekend!”

Slowing down helps identify your child’s unique bottleneck.

3. Break down the big job into smaller steps.

When it snows, visibility is reduced which renders many skiers less comfortable on the slopes.  That’s when we CONSCIOUSLY rely on ski technique:  bending down further to propel us through the turns in heavy snow, maintaining supple knees to  absorb obstacles we no longer see, keeping our body weight correctly balanced over the skis…

Many of these gestures we do without thinking…until it snows and we once again recall and apply our technique.

In a similar way, when training the kids, why not break down a large task into its many smaller bits.

If our initial instructions (ex. clean your room) seems foggy to the kids, let us help them return to their comfort zone by reviewing the individual steps required for success of the total “project” (and securing appropriate behavior can seem like a PROJECT).

A clean room means

  • Nothing on the floor
  • The bed is made…and nothing is hiding under it
  • Clothes are put in the appropriate drawers
  • Toys and books are placed their assigned home
  • The desk has space to be able to work correctly

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: make bed

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: stack books

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: clear desk

Think of our children’s tasks like a gourmet dish.  There is a recipe to follow.  Step by step.

If it’s good enough for the best chefs in the world, I’ll give it a go in our home too 🙂

4. Specify the criteria for “acceptable behavior” and “very well done.”

After snowfall, some slopes get plowed and others are left virgin.  Different strokes for different folks.

A good skier can master the smooth surfaces even with minimal visibility.  An excellent skier dances through the powder.

“Sweetheart, a cleanish room is when the bed is made and the clothes are off the floor.  A super-dooper-totally-awesomely-amazingly-clean room is when you also put your socks in the sock drawer, your shirts in the shirt drawer….”

5. Celebrate performance

A steaming hot chocolate and warm (greasy) fries taste especially delicious when coming in from difficult ski conditions.

“Darling.  Well done.”

Teen boys and kids warming up from skiing

Upon leaving our mountain chalet, we clean up.  Kids help with the chores.  During one vacation with my sister and her family, our Make-A-Loud-Fuss son resisted doing his job:  to clean the bathroom sink & mirror.

She taught him the secret to super-shiny-bathroom-cleaning (Spray the chrome with window cleaner.  It sparkles!) and off he went.

He made the chrome sparkle.

My sister rounded up the crew of siblings and cousins and they ALL marched to the bathroom to recognize a job well done.

Since that day, Mr.Fuss REQUESTS bathroom cleaning.  He is the recognized family expert on appropriate bathroom cleanliness.  We have delegated to him the responsibility of coaching his brothers on quality control.

That’s a win-win situation!

Children parade to congratulate appropriate behavior
Ready? Set. Go! checking out the spotless bathroom.

Children parade to check out clean bathroom

Proud teen and admiring brother
Our cool dude still takes pride in “clean.”

Helping our Kids Learn Appropriate Behavior

How would you and your family’s life be different if you took a fresh look at a “bad news” situation?

  • What one special thing can you appreciate about this time of life right NOW?
  • What is REALLY happening? Slowing down enables fresh observation.
  • What behavior do you, the parent, desire? What are intermediate steps?
  • How can you help your children differentiate between good and great?
  • How will you encourage REPEATED excellent behavior?

Yipee! Vacation (and Printable Chore Chart) for EVERYONE

Vacation = more fun 🙂
Vacation = more cooking, cleaning…and chores!

When Mom & Dad do ALL the chores, vacation can feel like work.
When the WHOLE family (and guests too) share, vacation feels like play 🙂

Create your family’s printable chore chart.

Turn a challenge into an loving opportunity. The kids love you. Let them know you feel loved when they help with chores at home. They will feel needed and valued. Everyone wins.

And there is more time to play…for EVERYONE.

[bctt tweet=”With our vacation chore chart, EVERYONE helps.  Work faster.  Play sooner and longer…for EVERYONE!”]

“Yipee! Vacation for Everyone” is mind-bogglingly effective.

Parents invest 10 minutes now to clarilfy expectations and allow children to choose their jobs. Mom & Dad benefit from daily help for chores from kids all vacation long.

Gets parents and kids smiling.

Who would have thought printable chore charts could be so exciting!  A fair and clear system for sharing household chores is appreciated because children are smart (especially yours!)

  • They know when one person does all the work, the situation is not fair.  And they don’t like it when life is not fair on them either.
  • They feel involved and important when they have a role to play.  “I’m needed.”
  • The “challenging work” of convincing kids to help out has been done.  They got to choose so it did not even feel like work for them 🙂 Follow up is easy.  “Oh, yeah!  MY job for today…”  If the children need a reminder, consider asking, “Who sets the table today?”
  • The children will feel even more involved when you delegate follow up to them.  It’s easy to know who does what on this printable chore chart.  Your helper will know who’s up for what job.  “JOOOEY.  YOUR TURN” sounds like police from mom & dad’s mouth.  From a fellow cohort, it sounds reasonable and even responsible!

Printable Chore Chart – Easy Peezy & Customizable

  1. Download the printable chore chart.  We’ve called it “Vacation for Everyone”
  2. Invite the kids to gather around you
    You can assure them it will only take 15 minutes.  (Let them put the timer on.)

We love the Vacation for Everyone Printable Chore Chart!

[av_testimonials style=’grid’ columns=’2′ interval=’5′ font_color=’custom’ custom_title=” custom_content=’#1cb3e6′]
[av_testimonial_single src=” name=’Jeanette’ subtitle=’’Lil ones taught Big ones how to do chores’ link=’http://’ linktext=”]
Thanks SOOOO much for this.  We used it over the summer holidays when 16 people were at home:  my in-laws, my husband’s grown nephews, our four young girls …  It was a mix of ages, cultures, expectations, you name it.

I organized folk in teams of two.  Our eldest daughter was paired up with her 24 year-old cousin.  She taught him how to set the table!

My husband was surprised to be put to work…and to be reminded to “do your job” by his daughter!

And I laughed and (almost…we were soooo many) relaxed.
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[av_testimonial_single src=” name=’Hugo’ subtitle=’Thought of you all vacation…and it was good’ link=” linktext=”]
Hi Denise,

Remember me?  I’m your son’s friend.  My parents did your thing for the jobs on vacation and I thought of you!  Really, it got them off my back.  It was normal to help out…a bit.  We each took turns.  It felt fair. Good idea.

Hope you had a good vacation too.  See you soon.
[/av_testimonial_single]
[av_testimonial_single src=” name=’Rayan’ subtitle=’I learned from the pictures’ link=” linktext=”]
Hi.  I like the pictures.  They taught me how to set the table so that I do a good job.  My mom did not tell me how to set the table but showed me the pictures.  Then she had me look at the table I set and compare it to the pictures.  Oops.  I learned how to do a job well.  Thanks.

P.S. My mom helped write this.
[/av_testimonial_single]
[av_testimonial_single src=” name=’Diane’ subtitle=’I’m teaching this to my parents’ link=” linktext=”]
Hi.  I babysat a family with this job chart thing.  It was so smooth and each kid knew what to do.  I took a picture and showed it to my parents and brother and sister.  We set up something like it at home.  I was tired of being asked to interupt whatever I was doing to help because one of the others was not willing to help out.  Now we know who does what.  And when it’s our turn, then it’s OK to help.  It’s normal even.

Thanks.  This got my parents off our backs and everyone helping out…happily.
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“Help! I’m Losing It!” Article from Message Magazine

It’s a delight to share the excerpt of my article from the fall 2015 edition of the Message Magazine.  Enjoy!

Help!  I’m “Losing It!”

“It was automagic, Mom…”

According to my four sons, spilled milk is automagic, so are the bite marks on a sibling’s arm, and so is my teen’s phone battery that runs out just as I call him.

How to respond to kids’ “béttises” (misbehaviors)?  To laugh?  To cry?  To scream!

The 80/20 rule I learned in business school–which says that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of inputs—also applied to my parenting:  the vast majority of challenges were addressed with the same tool: my voice.  I spoke instructions, then raised my voice to unresponsive children, and ultimately just “lost it.”

In the business world, this management practice is called re-investing in a losing strategy.

At home, this behavior was considered “normal.”

Something had to change.  What?  And how?

I first tried to change other people:  to shrink the kids and to tweak my husband.  It eventually dawned on me to try and influence the one person over whom I had a semblance of control:  moi.

It’s like I finally started walking the yellow brick road in the direction of Home Sweet Home, a path I could travel with other “sooper” (phenomenal and perfectly imperfect) parents, where I could gain a fresh perspective on life and success, and we could empower each other to be our best.

When Kids Take Your Life by Storm…Hold onto the Buoy of Positive Discipline!

Has the arrival of kids taken your life by storm (and dropped you in the middle of Paris)?  Join the club.  Maybe the clouds will simply blow away…  Until then, try stepping out of the fury.

That’s the relief I received from Positive Discipline, an approach to building respectful and collaborative relationships.  I took a class, got hooked, and now lead workshops to help parents apply these principles for healthy relationships. Based on the work of Austrian psychiatrists Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs, Positive Discipline is a model for teaching young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful contributors to society. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott adapted these principles into an interactive curriculum, and their books have sold millions …because the approach does wonders to transform home life.  It’s, like, automagic!

With Positive Discipline we first focus on…well, our own focus.  Are we looking for blame or for solutions?  How can we transform recurring challenges into opportunities to nurture respect, resilience, gratitude, love of excellence, and intimacy?

A wide array of Positive Discipline tools empower us to smoothly manage the daily issues:  power struggles, undue demands for attention, sibling rivalry, repetition-repetition-repetition, and more.  Additionally, these parenting “ruby slippers” hit the target with the needs of moms and dads in the Internet-age where our 2.0 youth expect to contribute to and impact their environment.

Positive Discipline works with teens as well as tots of 2.0 years.  Here’s how we applied the Adlerian principle of Firm and Kind to the family job, Get-Out-the-Door-on-Time-for-School-and-Work-With-a-Smile.  Firmness points to respecting the parental structure, such as the non-negotiability of timely departure.  Kindness refers to respect of the child’s perspective, like considering their input in the process.  Part of the Positive Discipline wonder lies in simultaneously respecting kids, mom & pop.

Positive Routine Tool for Parents & Kids Together

Positive RoutinesWe created Positive Routines, a photo-reportage of the priority tasks for leaving on time.  At work this would be called a job description communicated via Power Point.  At home, we call it fun, practical, and empowering.  It’s the process that renders the tool so effective.  First, we sat down to enumerate the multiple tasks needed to get done before walking out the door.  Deep discussion ranged from, “We gotta wake up!” to “Make our beds ?!?!” and “Brush our teeth…No, I already do that at night.” This is brainstorming time; let the ideas flow…especially from the children.  They know what needs doing; they have heard you say it over and over again.

Next we decided together which tasks NEED doing in the morning, when we feel groggy and possibly move slowly, and which ones can be completed the night before.  We classified “Getting parent’s signature,” “Getting school stuff ready,” and “Choosing clothes” among the evening jobs.

Finally, we put it into practice.  What liberty for me!  When the tykes came complaining that their bathing suits were still wet (and now smelling) from last week’s swimming class, I could truly sympathize AND remind them that we wash swimwear the night before.  Discomfort is a bummer, but not the end of their world.  Repeating myself again and again is the end of my sanity.  You bet they remembered the following week :).

These Positive Routine Picto’s also helped my husband and I coordinate our messages.  At first he questioned this process…until the week we had several morning signature requests.  The kids turned to their Dad for these because they knew I merely pointed to the Positive Routine Picto and gladly accepted to sign their paper that evening.  Finally he burst out, “No more signing in the morning for me either!”  The kids accepted it.  After all, these were their rules too.

These Positive Routine Picto’s were such a success that I developed a workshop specifically to bring parents and children together to create their own.  In these photos I love how one child revels in the full attention from all of the family members and how the boys and girls proudly display THEIR routines.  Parents shared delightful feedback.  One girl was showing hers off to a friend, who then told her mom, and the friend’s mom requested to take it home.  Another shared how, after the good-night routine, she noticed the light switch back on in her 3 year old’s room.  “Mommy, I forgot to choose my clothes for tomorrow.”

Our boys are now growing up and leaving home.  It’s a thrill and a solace to see them go forward with the life skills they need to make a life and a living.   And they tell it to me straight:  “Mom, when you stopped trying to be perfect, that’s when you were a great mom.”

May you and yours keep growing and growing together.

 

Denise Dampierre is the author of www.home-is-fun.com blog, a Harvard MBA, the mother of 4 boys, a trainer in Positive Discipline, and an American still married to a Frenchman after 20+ years!  She would be delighted to answer your questions on Positive Discipline (denise@home-is-fun.com).  You can also find out more on the associations’ sites:  www.positivediscipline.com in English and  www.disciplinepositive.fr in French.  This fall, Denise will be leading parenting classes in both English and in French.  You can also find her training professionals on building healthy relationships using these same positive principles.  After all, “People make the world go round” both at home and at work.