The Importance of Teaching Kids Life Skills
In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, kids are forced to face challenges and obstacles that kids of previous generations have never faced before. How do we help equip them to face these challenges? It is now more than ever, that teaching kids life skills is so important. Here are the top 10 life skills that you should teach your kids in order to be ready to face the world head-on with a mind that is strong and a heart that is kind.
Decision Making and Problem Solving
There is not a day in our adult lives that we do not have to make decisions and solve problems. This I why helping your kids to develop this life skill is so important. Decision making and problem-solving go hand in hand. If there is a problem to solve, there will also be decisions to make in order to solve the problem. One cannot exist without the other. The problems they will face changes in severity and seriousness all the time. Something simple like what they want for lunch to friendship or school issues are problems that your kids will face at one stage or another.
So how do we as parents help them develop this life skill of problem-solving and decision making? We have to stop solving all their problems and making decisions for them. OUCH! The reality is, we will all do this. We only want the best for our kids and protect them from harm. Herein lies the problem. We have to allow kids to face their problems head-on and with our guidance, help them to make a safe and healthy decision for their life. Show them the door but allow them to be the one to walk through it.
Sometimes they will make the wrong decisions and that’s ok. Be there to support them and talk them through their problem and decision process. This is the best outcome as they will learn from their experiences and develop their life skills further.
Communication and doing so politely and appropriately is another important life skill that kids need to be taught and guided with. We teach our kids communication without even knowing from the time when they are really young. From helping them with their first words to correcting them and teaching them to form a full sentence. This then leads to a full conversation and hence proper communication. Communication skills will then be taken into their professional lives when they are in the workforce, so it is a very important skill to hone in on.
Kids need to learn that not everyone is going to have the same opinion as them and to respect people’s opinion and communicate accordingly. Negotiation skills are part of communication and as such, they need to learn how to negotiate to try and get the best outcome for themselves and those involved. Finally, kids need to know that communication equally talking as much as it is listening. Listening is a vital part of communication and without it communication is broken.
Caring for Their Body
Hygiene and keeping bodies healthy is a vital skill to keep kids healthy throughout their whole life. From teaching them to wash their hands when they are first toilet trained, to taking care of their teenage skin and eating well to keep up with their fast-growing bodies and minds. We need to teach them about safe behaviour but also allow them the space to explore.
Teenagers want their freedom more than ever but are also screaming out for guidance. So, guide them and teach them as they learn to deal with their emotions and rapid changing bodies.
Budgeting and Saving Money
Some people like to call this financial literacy. At some stage your kids will get a job whether it be a small casual job after school or a part-time job or full time when they finish their studies. Whatever their employment, they will start to earn about money. What they do with this money becomes important to their future life and lifestyle. If they are taught to budget and save, they will quickly see that this then equates to being able to afford some really wonderful things for themselves. The other lesson learned is that hard work pays off, literally and metaphorically. If they are taught to manage their earnings in a realistic way then this will only have positive outcomes for the long and short term. There are many cool apps and resources to help you with this one. I recommend you check out Spriggy in the first instance for basic pocket money and savings goals when kids are young.
This life skill is one that some adults still find difficult from time to time. Even if we do have good time management skills, there will still be times that we become time poor. So, teaching kids time management early on is such an important skill. Start by using a timetable with them to schedule in study time and extra-curricular. This kind of time management allows them to quickly prioritise what is important and what is not. It helps them to say organised which is also a very important life skill. By having a timetable for them, this gets them into a routine and then time management becomes a much more manageable task.
Safety is paramount at any age but most importantly during the teen years when they like to test their own boundaries. When kids are younger, their safety, for the most part, is in our hands so in some ways it was easier to manage. Once they enter the tween and teen stage, a lot of that responsibility goes back to them. So, we need to teach them about what safe behaviour is and what it isn’t. It is also vital that we teach them what to do when they do find themselves in an unsafe situation. How do they respond, who do they call? It's a great idea to talk through some scenarios and discuss how each can be handled. We cannot be with our kids all the time, and therefore we need to teach them to be safe but to also respond to unsafe situations appropriately.
Behaviour and Emotions
As kids step into the tween and teen years, it is important that they learn to start owning their behaviour and realise that their behaviour will have consequences whether it be good or bad. Emotions will affect their behaviour so of course these two will have to be tackled hand in hand. Emotions will run high as the hormones do, so it’s important to give your kids some space and to guide them to understand their ever-changing world and the emotions that come with it.
An important behavioural trait to teach your kids is to first of all own a mistake and apologise for it. Again, its about owning their behaviour and knowing the consequences. Teach them that staying true to themselves is important and that they don’t need to change their behaviour to impress anyone. Obviously, if the behaviour is negative then of course guide them to change but being themselves and being comfortable in their own skin will allow for their confidence to strengthen and for their strong personality to come through which develops healthy behaviour.
There are only positive outcomes for teaching your kids domestic skills. Chores and helping around the house is only ensuring that they will be able to look after themselves once they decide to move out or need to due to reasons like work or education. Putting dishes away, folding clothes, taking the garbage out or washing the dishes, all these tasks set them up to be able to survive and look after themselves and are part of belonging and contributing to the running of the household. Not only do these skills need to be introduced for their own personal life skills but to also teach them about responsibility.
You will no doubt be met with resistance occasionally with getting your kids to help around the house, but if you start them young and try and make it fun then it won’t seem so arduous later on.
Manners and Social Skills
It goes without saying that some of the earliest things we teach kids are how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Manners and social skills are evidently a very important life skill to teach kids. To ensure a smooth transition into their social life, manners have to taught. Their social skills will allow them to grow relationships and make and maintain friendships. If they lack basic manners and consideration for others the maintenance of any friendships is going to be difficult. Teaching them to create, nurture and value relationships is so important. It’s a life skill that will ensure they have deep and meaningful friendships and to also appreciate them.
Cooking and Food Skills
Cooking and food skills ensures that your kids will be able to nourish their bodies properly so that they do not go hungry, it’s that simple. Teaching them how to cut food safely, how to mix, how to crack an egg and how to make basic meals for themselves are all a part of forming their independence for later in life. Baking is always a popular way to introduce cooking and food skills to your kids so try this first. As their interest grows, so will their request to do things in the kitchen. Involve them as much as possible because these skills will serve them greatly later in on in life.
This all seems very simple, right? But in the hustle and bustle of modern life where mums, dads, and kids are all so busy, sometimes we as parents forget that many of these skills need to be consciously taught and modeled for our kids through the short period of their life they live with us.
- Jodi Phillips