20yr olds social skills

Our 19yr old nephew is staying w us for the semester. His 21yr old sister lives in town and has a girlfriend so we’ve had lots of time w 20-ish family recently, which has mostly been awesome! One thing I’ve noticed is that none of them are very good at conversation, especially the back and forth part. Each of them seems comfortable talking about themself, but none of them has asked me, or my wife, a single question about our lives or work or how I made the salad dressing.. nothing!! Maybe they do this friends and not older adults? I’m seeing this same thing developing in my 10 and 14yr kids, even though we model good social skills. What do we do? Did u train your kids in how to do this? Will they eventually get it in their own? Thanks in advance!

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RE: 20yr olds social skills ()

Such a good question!!!  I’m wondering about this too. I get tumultuous sighs when I ask my teenagers questions about their day. Or barking one word answers. I think it’s screens/remote learning, etc.   Kids need to be reminded that people want to hear what they have to say no matter how mundane because that’s how you get to know people and learn communication skills.  I’m so interested to hear other people’s answers!!!  

RE: 20yr olds social skills ()

My girlfriend and I just had this conversation last night!  My kids are 21, 19, and 16, and this is a troubling trend we’ve noticed too.  My 16 y. o. son is the most socially awkward, and has trouble reading a room, but absolutely cannot have a comfortable conversation without it being about something he’s passionate about. My daughters can, but really only like to talk about themselves, and rarely ask how my week was, or if I have plans for the weekend, or what I think about something.  They are extremely self-centered, despite being taught to care for others.  I don’t get it, and don’t remember being that way, myself, but maybe it’s just a developmental thing.  I do try to encourage my son to ask me how my week was, after he’s told me all about his (we have 2 households), but that doesn’t seem to stick.  Can’t wait to read the answers for this question.  Thank you for asking it!  

RE: 20yr olds social skills ()

Interesting question! My kids are currently 19 and 16 and are generally pretty good at holding up their ends of a conversation though both might prefer to be in front of a screen! When I think about what might have helped them develop skills in this area, several things come to mind-- we always have family dinner, every night no matter what.  And we've built an expectation that we will have a pleasant conversation during dinner (no screens EVER, no arguing EVER).  I might share a funny story from my workday or note something which happened in the news which I think is important or interesting. The kids often have interesting comments and perspectives which spark further conversation. When they were younger we had a habit of going around the table and each sharing a 'highlight' from our days. When we have guests over for dinner (not lately!), I try to model polite engaging, reciprocal conversation in front of them (as opposed to letting them leave the table or room prematurely because they are bored or want to do their own thing) and often they join in. I also discourage them from having earbuds in while we are in the car-- I do let them pick the music in the car sometimes though, and that gives us something else to share and talk about.

Having said all this, I realize that the conversation flows a lot less freely with my 20-something year old nephew when we see him, unless it's primarily about his projects-- so i do think there is something developmental going on as well with teens and young adults. And maybe something cultural-- in many cultures there is much more emphasis on explicitly greeting other people (esp older ones), asking them about their lives, being warm and welcoming, etc. The U.S. is not really much of a hospitality culture compared to much of the rest of the world; we tend to focus more on efficiency than warmth.