Life skills for children: Teach your kids these important life skills
In our effort to give our children the best life possible, we tend to forget the importance of teaching them practical life skills, like doing the laundry, cooking, or washing the dishes. But these can make all the difference in the world...
Kids are learning so much from the internet age, but they’re usually ill-equipped to parse the information overload and learn something useful. What they need are important life skills for children that will equip them for life. Giving them these crucial skills in their toolbox is key in how to build resilience in children, and in nurturing an independent child.
In our effort to give our children the best life possible, we tend to forget about teaching them practical life skills, like doing the laundry, cooking, or washing the dishes.
A recent study by online security company AVG Technologies revealed that although 58% of three to five year olds in the USA know their way around a smartphone, less than 15% of these kids can make their own breakfast. That’s one out of six kids.
“I see many parents doing everything for their kids instead of letting them figure out how to fend for themselves,” says Tim Elmore, founder of Growing Leaders, a nonprofit in Norcross, Georgia, that works with schools and civic groups to promote leadership qualities in children.
As early as you can, you can teach your kids the joy of independence. Try not to force them to do things. Instead, focus on how they don’t have to wait for you to get things done. Raising independent kids is all about teaching your little ones how to do things on their own. Yes, they can have food and clean clothes when they want them – and without your help!
Raising Independent Kids: Important Life Skills for Children
1. Doing the Laundry
When your kids go to college and they’re stuck somewhere without access to a laundromat, what are they going to do? Are they going to just wait it out and wear one set of clothing for days?
Too many teenagers go into their adulthood without learning how to wash their clothes. Don’t let your kids become one of them. You can teach your kids to wash their clothes as early as six years old – with adult supervision, of course.
If you have a top-loading washing machine at home, make sure you have a stool ready for your little kid. Teach him how you do the laundry by walking him through the process step by step, from measuring and adding the detergent, to choosing the settings, then starting the machine.
Blogger Amy Mascott taught her three children, who are nine, 10, and 12 years of age, how to do the laundry. She even named each part of the process something that her kids would remember, like Wash Warrior, Super-Fly Dry Guy, and Put ’Em Away Triple Play.
There were times when the kids didn’t do it perfectly, like the time they folded and put away a whole load of clothes while damp. “But I’m not aiming for perfection. I’m aiming for them to get the job done,” she said. When raising independent kids, you need to have the long game in mind.
2. Planting a Seedling
This is a life skill for children that will help them gain an interest in making their own food. As an added bonus, it works wonders in teaching your young one to be an independent child.
Many kids today are taught how to plant seeds in class. But usually, this isn’t followed up by a lesson on how to transfer sprouts into a garden.
Whitney Cohen, coauthor of The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids, listed the following gardening steps in her book:
- Ask your child to dig a hole that’s slightly larger than the container the plant is in.
- Once you remove the plant from the pot and place it in the hole, have her delicately push soil around it and pat it down.
- Let your child water it with a gentle stream from a watering can with a perforated nozzle.
- By age six or seven, your child can remove a seedling himself. Have him split two fingers apart so the stem of the plant goes between them, then squeeze the outside of the container until the plant comes out. If the roots are wound tightly, he should loosen them a few at a time before planting.
It’s highly probable that your child will, from the bottom of his young pure heart, want to give gifts to his best friends (or crushes, some day). So why not help him? Once you teach him how to wrap gifts, he’s going to make it rain with gifts like a mini Santa Claus! Plus, thinking of others helps to prevent your little one from turning into a spoiled brat.
You can teach your kids how remove the price tag and find the right container for the gift, whether it’s a paper bag or a box. Then, you can also teach them different styles of folding paper. Next, you can help them cut paper using scissors, and then stick on tape.
Now, the tape part is going to be tricky. They will make mistakes and that’s okay. Making mistakes is all part of raising independent kids. Tell them to just try again, and they’ll be fine!
4. Hammering a Nail (and Other Home Repairs!)
You can start your kid (preferably eight-years-old) on a seven- to nine-ounce hammer that they can practice with. Some home-improvement shops sell tools for kids.
They can practice with soft wood (like pine, poplar, or cedar). To get started, hold the wood in place with a clamp or a vise, or just place it on the ground.
Start your kids on nails with wide heads to they’re easier to hit, and always do it first so they can follow your example. Go for a few tries, just with light taps, and keep practicing until he or she gets the hang of it.
5. Writing a Letter
Every fully-functioning adult needs to know how to write a litter, so why not teach your independent child this life skill? You can teach your kids how to properly write and format a letter, how to attach stamps, and drop it in the mailbox. They can even enhance letters with their drawings!
Start with how your kids can start letters (“Dear…” or “Greetings!”) before writing the body, then a closing remark (Sincerely, Truthfully yours, etc), then their signature. Next time you’re writing holiday cards, have them help, too!
6. Cooking a Meal
No life skill is more important to life than cooking. If raising independent kids is important to you, this life skill is a must. To start, ask your child to help you prepare meals. Young children can help you set the table. Then you can move them up, by having them help you with prepare the ingredients, like peeling potatoes and washing fresh vegetables.
When your child is around eight-years-old and above, you can train him in using a knife. Just make sure he uses a small knife that fits his hands. Guide him every step of the way so he can avoid any accidents.
Don’t worry if all this instruction is just making prep time longer. This is a good bonding time for you and your child. When he gets used to the work, he can help more in the future and you can cut prep time in half!
As an added bonus, you can start them as early as now on eating (and cooking!) healthy food. The right nutrition can help strengthen their immune system and will work wonders for their development. The link between physical activity and nutrition for health is also well-known, so starting this habit now can be invaluable.
Since kids know their way around phones anyway, having them navigate for you teaches them how to better communicate data. It’s a great way to sharpen their spatial abilities and their communication skills.
8. First Aid
This is one of the most important life skills for children you can teach them.
Teach them what to do when an accident happens by running them through various scenarios. Instruct them on what to do in case someone is choking, or having a seizure. Tell them what to do in case of cuts or a hard knock. Or you can help your children learn how not to freak out when they see blood. (Just don’t overreact yourself, keep calm and chill out!) The more they practice, the more their reaction to accidents will become automatic.
9. Cleaning the Bathroom
An independent child cleans up after himself. Always have a rag or a sponge around in the bathroom and ask your kids to wipe away gobs of toothpaste or soap suds on the sink. (And make sure they have a stool to stand on!) This will help them get started on cleaning the bathroom, then they can move on to the more difficult tasks.
Later on, the kids can clean the floor, the shower area, and the toilet, which requires greater skill. They can also clean the lid, the seat, and the base of the toilet.
Just make sure they wear a face mask and gloves to protect them from the fumes of the disinfectant. Clean with them until they’re ready to clean the bathroom alone. Make sure you tell them to wash their hands thoroughly afterwards and take a shower.
10. Smart Shopping
You don’t want your kids to just buy junk food when they’re grown up. So teaching them how to be smart consumers is important. This is one of those life skills for children that you have to teach because it involves their ability to make decisions and handle money. With this skill, you’re well on your way to raising independent kids.
Compare products of different brands and talk about how their prices vary. Give him or her an allowance and assign them things to buy. The more they can fit within the budget (without sacrificing quality), the better.
Teaching Life Skills Is an Important Part of Raising Independent Kids
Teaching life skills for children is no easy feat. But it’s important that you teach them these skills so they can take care of themselves in the future. The rewards of these lessons will prove to be invaluable: your independent child will grow up to become an independent adult, ready to take on the world.
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