As parents, we want nothing more than for our children to be happy and experience the ideal childhood. Play and fun are essential, but the development of life skills is just as important during these formative years.
Indeed, it’s never too early to turn your home into a training ground for your kids so they can start to become equipped for the real world. Make it a household goal for your family to grow together by teaching them important homemaking and money management skills, as well as how to handle failure/disappointment and routine auto maintenance. Here are four important life skills that will set your children up for success.
1. Basic Homemaking
You’re your family’s caretaker, but that doesn’t mean your children shouldn’t learn how to care for themselves, too. The home is a place to respect, which requires responsibility from all family members. Preparing a simple meal, doing laundry and maintaining a tidy living space shouldn’t wait until college to be learned!
Truthfully, teaching your children important life skills will help shape them early on for a lifetime of success, involve them in the home, and help them develop greater independence. Some important life skills include:
- Making easy things to cook, like sandwiches, salads, grilled cheese and scrambled eggs, to name a few
- Organizing toys, sports equipment or schoolwork
- Cleaning and tidying up their bedroom and bathroom
- Sorting and folding laundry
- Taking care of the family pet
2. Financial Literacy
Keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t just apply to adults. Our kids always want the latest video gaming consoles, tablets and smartphones that their friends own. But because you can’t go out and buy everything your children want, it’s never too early to impart on them valuable life lessons, including the value of a dollar. This lesson introduces children to the concepts of wants vs. needs, instant gratification vs. saving, tradeoffs and how to earn money for what you want to buy.
To start conversations around money matters with your family, explain why you go to work each day and how all different kinds of jobs help families live and have fun. Additionally, engage your kids in spending and teach them financial literacy. For example, give your children a budget for weekly treats and an allowance for completing household chores before letting them choose what to do with their small windfall.
Finally, you might also want to make it a point to teach your kids about the importance of comparing prices while shopping and deciding when to buy or not buy a certain item.
3. Disappointment and Failure
As parents, we want to bubble wrap our babies and protect them from the world. But experiencing disappointment and learning important coping skills is beneficial to our kids. Aviva Patz, a contributor to Parents Magazine, explains learning how to deal with setbacks, like being left out at school or not making a sports team, helps kids develop key characteristics for growth and maturation.
Disappointment and failure may feel like a source of pain, but for kids, these experiences are opportunities to learn “coping skills, emotional resilience, creative thinking and the ability to collaborate,” Patz explains.
Here are some ways to help your child prepare to manage life’s setbacks:
- In response to disappointing situations, ask your child questions to prompt solutions, rather than sugarcoat the experience.
- Don’t always overpraise your child, as reliance on constant validation to feel valued or confident can come back to hurt them later in life.
- Whether or not your child succeeds, encourage them to try new activities in order to gain valuable experiences and learn something new.
- Be a good role model by setting up your kids with realistic expectations about school and life.
4. Car Maintenance and Safety
Before you unleash your teen to the open road, make sure your young driver understands the basics of performing routine auto maintenance. Proper drivers education extends beyond the the drivers test — and that’s where you come in.
Tire maintenance, like learning how to change a flat, check the tread and shop for new tires, often gets neglected, despite being such an important part of knowing how to safely operate a car. Teaching these hands-on skills can give your teen greater confidence and responsibility as a driver. Plus, after teaching them these important life lessons, you’ll know they’ll have the ability to do more than just turn the key and drive.