If you ask parents what skills their children will need when they grow up the vast majority of them will probably start listing various academic skills.
Parents nowadays spend hundreds of dollars on various academic classes, sporting activities, art lessons, dance lessons, music lessons etc. And all of these skills are important of course, and money spent on every one of them is a worthwhile investment that will benefit your child in the long run.
But there is another set of skills your child needs to master to grow up a successful and well-rounded individual: life skills.
When it comes to life skills many adults assume that the child just picks them up on their own by observing adults and the world around them. And while this is true to some degree, making an effort to develop these skills in your children is still necessary.
And do not wait until they are older either. Many parents think they need to wait until secondary school to start teaching their children life lessons. Small children are much smarter and more intuitive than we give them credit for, so the earlier you start sharing your wisdom with them the better.
In this article, we have compiled the top 10 basic life skills every child can (and should) learn from a young age.
You might be scratching your head in confusion. “After all children do is play, do they really need to be taught how to?” I hear you ask. Well, yes.
I do not mean teaching them actual games like Monopoly, Uno, etc. I mean teaching them how to follow the rules, treat other players fairly, how to apologize if they have cheated, not gloat if they have won, and accept defeat gracefully if they have lost.
After all, child’s play is an imitation of real life, and by learning how to play in a polite and fair manner children will learn how to conduct their business and interact with other members of society in a civilized manner when they are adults.
Children are highly emotional creatures and most of the time make their choice based on their gut feeling. But when they get older they will have to make decisions based on what is logical and beneficial, and logic may sometimes contradict their feelings.
Every child should be taught how to weigh the pros and cons of their choice before making it and accept responsibility for the outcome.
It is never too early to learn how to save your money. All that children need to develop this skill is some basic math skills and a piggy bank. If your child wants to buy some toy let them earn their allowance by doing their homework and chores and teach them how to save up their earnings to purchase what they want. This will teach them that money does not grow on trees. The toy they end up buying will be more precious to them because they have earned it, and they will have a better appreciation for the presents you give them as well.
Your children being kind to animals will not just benefit the animals they will encounter throughout their lives, it will also benefit some people they will interact with. Animals such as kittens or puppies can be weak and fragile, so teaching your child how to handle them with care will instill in them respect for all living creatures. So, in the future, when they encounter a person who is weaker than them they will treat them with compassion and respect.
With today’s hectic lifestyle it is hard to pay attention to nutrition labels or find time to go to the gym every day.
It is important to talk to children about the importance of health, and a big part of that is being aware of what we eat. Make learning about vitamins and minerals fun with colorful flashcards and charts. Every time you have a healthy meal tell your child about all the benefits. If you don't know where to start, you can read our post on which brain foods are the best fo rmy child's development?
And teach them some basic cooking skills. Not only will they save money in the future by knowing how to cook, but most importantly, they will know and control exactly what they are consuming.
You won't always be there, standing over them telling them to do their homework. Learning is a never-ending process and if you want your child to keep on improving their skills after they have left home they need to learn how to motivate themselves.
This is a tricky thing to teach, and many parents often resort to punishment to spur their children into action. And while the threat of losing computer and smartphone privileges can be motivating, it will not serve your child in the long run.
It might be more beneficial to use positive reinforcement. Associating making an effort with gaining something (be it simple words of praise or a colorful sticker) is what will motivate the child better.
We are living in the age of technology and unsurprisingly not many people are well-versed in the art of conversation. But humans are still social creatures and that is unlikely to change. Even 1000 years from now, we will still need to network and collaborate with each other to get things done. And those who know how to communicate respectfully and express their opinions eloquently will always have the upper hand.
When it comes to communication and networking, practice makes perfect. So, whether you have many children or just one encourage them to communicate with their peers and hone their networking skills.
Some things never change, and building alliances is as important today as it was in medieval times.
“I get knocked down, but I get up again” as the famous song states. And that should be one of the skills you are teaching your children.
Now, there is a fine line between being resilient and being simply stubborn. A person cannot keep doing the exact same thing over and over again and get a different result. But instead, one must, get up after falling, dust themselves off, retrace their steps to see what went wrong, adjust their approach, and then try again. There is not a single adult person alive today on this green earth who has not experienced failure at some point in their life. Knowing how to learn from it and how to overcome it is what makes people successful in their endeavors.
Many children are shy and realizing that they did not succeed in achieving what they wanted to is an enormous hit to their self-confidence. At the moments like these, they need their parents to reassure them and encourage them to try again. Read our suggested 15 ways to build confidence in your child.
Learning how to deal with bullies is yet another crucial life skill that will benefit your child all throughout their lives. This does not mean that you should adopt an “an eye for an eye” approach and stoop to the bully’s level. It simply means teaching your children how to shield themselves emotionally from all the negativity they might encounter throughout their lives.
Anonymous online communication encourages people to be more vicious than they would ever dare to be in person, and at some point when your child starts using social media, they will have to deal with the negativity that is out there.
Hence, in today’s day and age, not letting unwarranted negativity get under your skin is one of the most essential life skills.
That does not mean your child cannot be ambitious, not at all. It is important to strive for excellence, but it is equally important to learn how to appreciate the things you already have. People tend to not realize how important something is until it is too late, so it is important to appreciate even the smallest things like having a roof over your head and a healthy meal. And it is never too early to learn how to be grateful.
These are the top 10 most essential life skills every child has to master from an early age to become a well-rounded individual. Parenting has probably never been harder than it is today. As if worrying about all the academic demands was not enough we have to worry about the emotional consequences living in today’s hectic world has on our children. One of the things to remember when trying to develop your children’s life skills is the importance of consistency.
If you decide to implement the aforementioned practices into your daily routine (and hopefully you will) you will need to stay consistent with your approach. Do not expect quick results and surrender when you do not get them. Children respond to consistency over a long period of time, and the development of necessary life skills may take years. But it will all be worth it in the end.