There are many things parents are trying to teach their children to help them grow up and be independent. However, there are some life skills that children are lacking today. Here are 10 that you must teach your child early on:
1. PROTECT HIMSELF FROM HARMFUL OTHERS
Kids are so trusting. Provide your child with emotional support from a very young age so he’ll feel free to talk to you about anything. Teach him to be mindful of his surroundings, how to recognize a stranger versus someone he knows and how to run away if someone tries to hurt him. Also, teach him to memorize your phone number and address. Learn more at safekids.org.
2. PREPARE A MEAL
By the time your child’s in high school, he really should be able to do just about everything that relates to his own care. You can start this off when he’s little by involving him in the kitchen early with simple, easy tasks. Teach him to crack an egg and scramble it on his own by the time he’s a kindergartner. Let him do simple cooking activities with you in the kitchen such a squeezing the lemon juice, using the salad spinner, setting the table, concentrating on teaching as you go. One meal that’s fun and easy to work on together is creating your own pizza or foccacio!
3. WAKE UP ON HIS OWN
School kids sometimes have to be up by 6 a.m. or, as they get older, they may need to get up early for a workout or service project. Help him pick out an alarm clock that’s easy to use and watch him set it on his bed stand and plug it in. Monitor that the “a.m.” or “p.m.” is set accurately, then leave him alone. Avoid the mom “wake up call” service.
4. DO HIS OWN LAUNDRY
This is NOT just for teens. Little kids can sort “whites” from “colors,” throw clothes in the wash, pull clothes from the dryer and start the machines after measuring detergent, too. Let them! Step-by-step lessons for doing it on your own once you’re old enough include:
STEP ONE: Turn clothes inside out / STEP TWO: Read labels / STEP THREE: Sort / STEP FOUR: Pre-treat stains / STEP FIVE: Load laundry and detergent / STEP SIX: Understand machine settings / STEP SEVEN: Transfer wet clothes to dryer (and removing any clothes that shouldn’t tumble in the dryer) / STEP EIGHT: Dry clothes
STEP NINE: Fold laundry into stacks for family members and household
5. FIX THINGS
Some kids learn fixing skills from savvy DIY parents, but some don’t. Teach, teach, teach. Provide kid-sized tools for little kids (and gloves for avoiding “ouchies”), and let them try to hang a poster on the wall of their room or fix a broken toy themselves. Get kids started in DIY handy activities.
6. PACK A BAG
Don’t do it for him! If he’s going somewhere, let him pack for himself. You can give him a list of what to bring so everything’s covered, but only give it to him once. Of course, you will need to inspect that he has what he needs if he’s little, but empower him to take care of his own belongings.
7. TALK TO PEOPLE
Instead of jumping right to thoughts of stranger danger, know that almost everyone your child meets he doesn’t know at first! Help him to tell the difference between someone who gives him a normal feeling and someone who doesn’t — most people are good people. He should be able to ask for assistance at a store, purchase something at the store, etc. Encourage your child to speak up for himself by role-playing at home and providing different scenarios for him to respond to. Encouragement is the key here!
This is a life skill that can’t be underestimated. Every child needs to know how to swim because he will come into contact with water. Starting lessons earlier is best. Some classes are designed with babies in mind. Sign Up for Swim Lessons here (please call ahead as options have changed during the pandemic).
9. HOW TO CALL 9-1-1
The basic tenets are the same as for an adult: know when to call (what is an emergency, what is not); make sure the call-taker knows where you are; and don’t hang up. Teaching him to be a good listener and to not panic in a stressful situation will go a long way if he ever needs to make this call.
10. HOW TO USE MONEY
Whether you believe in giving your child an allowance or not, sooner or later you’ll be shelling out for him. If you teach him money skills from an early age, he’ll get a good head start (a savings jar, a spending jar). By the time he’s in middle school he should know how to use an ATM and even how to write a check. By high school he should know how to pay a bill and what credit is. Learn more about money lessons for kids here: Give Kids Money or Make Them Earn It?
SOURCES: Selfsufficientkids.com; raising-independent-kids.com