Whenever we mothers meet at breakfast, a kitty party or a birthday the discussion eventually turns to how well our kids are doing. The bright child who gets all As, another one who is so confident in drama skills that she can put actors to shame and of course, the young athlete whose sports skills can make headlines!
I find myself to be the quiet listener in such discussions. You might be thinking that my children possess no qualities to make them stand out but that’s not the case. My perspective might be a little different than yours but think about it…is the child who is academically sound and/or good at sports, really prepared to face the real world? Can he/she handle real life situations without his parents or care-givers?
I honestly believe that LIFE SKILLS are the most important skills you can teach your child. Sure, grades and extracurriculars are important but I see parents nowadays being over-protective and in some cases, even hovering over their children. What message are these children receiving? That the parents will always have their back? That the children aren’t good enough to do things on their own?
Parents are neglecting a very important skill they can teach their children and these children may very well find themselves lost when they step into the grind of practical life even though their degrees may be (over)loaded with honours and achievements.
As a mother of four boys I often fret over my parenting (which parent doesn’t). Am I teaching them enough? Will they be able to survive on their own?
Here are some skills I feel are essential to teach children by the time they are 10-years-old:
- Believing in the power of prayer
Children, whether young or older, are always faced with decisions and choices. And often, the choice isn’t an easy one, whether it’s choosing a toy at four years or selecting a profession at 18 years! Teach them the ability to make choices but alongside that teach them to pray to the Almighty. When children learn to give it their all but leave things to Him ultimately, they will find it easier to make decisions – big or small.
- Giving charity
Helping those in need helps develop gratitude in children. They learn to be thankful for all their blessings; to be content and satisfied when they see people who have much less than they do. Teach by example and help those in need – give alms, a drink of water, a visit to the hospital – when children see their parents being charitable, it becomes a habit for them as well.
- Cleaning up
I often find parents being gender-biased regarding cleaning up. In many houses it’s okay for a boy to come home and leave his mess around whereas girls have to be neat and tidy and often even clean up their brothers’ mess! Well, ours is an all boys house (with no sister to boss around) so when my sons were old enough to follow instructions, I taught them to put their laundry in the laundry baskets and keep all extra shoes in the closet. How difficult do you think that is for a child – boy or girl? Teach them, it’s basic etiquette!
- Packing up
This is something children need to do every day from an early age – packing their school bags. When travelling, try to make children 10 years and older to pack their own luggage. This will teach them not only how to pack efficiently but also to pack responsibly and not forget things they might need in school or on the trip. My kids pack their own luggage (even my eight-year-old) and I’ve heard plenty of “Haw Hayes” but believe me these little Smart Phone users need to be smart at life too!
- Looking after younger ones
This skill may not be important for ‘survival’ per se but it is a great way to teach responsibility and make kids feel like grown-ups (something all kids love to do). Reading a story to a younger sibling; helping them shower and change clothes; and even feeding them are little things to make them responsible and empathic (and take some of your load off too!)
- Managing their finances
Yes! It may sound too much for a ten-year-old but believe me, children nowadays have a fair sense of money. If you give them a monthly pocket money, tell them that’s all they will get in that month so that they learn to manage expenses and save money. Later in life, when they begin to earn their own money, they will know the importance of managing and monitoring finances.
- Making choices and decisions
As parents, we usually know what our children like or dislike. But it is crucial to let them make their own choices whether it is ordering food in a restaurant, choosing what clothes to wear and even subjects they would like to take up in higher grades. Of course, in the early years these decisions can be made with mutual consent by parents and children but give them the power to choose and teach them that choices have consequences and you’ll see them becoming independent and aware decision-makers later in life.
- Grocery shopping
One skill which is definitely crucial to survival is grocery shopping. Take your children along when buying groceries from an early age and have them go alone as they grow older. Ask them to help you make the shopping list and decide where to get the items from. They’ll learn how to plan, organise and manage the budget this way.
We live in a scary world where parents do need to watch out for their children more so than ever before but even that requires parents to empower their children with these basic life skills from an early age. They might get grumpy when asked to do these but make it fun and enjoyable and they’ll eventually come around. And believe me, they’ll thank you when they are adults themselves!
Which life skills have you taught your kids so far? Tell us in the comments below!