If you're like me, teaching your kids as you go, imparting wisdom to them as they make their way along the road of life, how often do you sit down and really think about the essential life skills you'd like them to have? Take a few minutes to brainstorm what's most important to you and your partner when it comes to the competencies that are integral to setting your kids up for success and start focusing on them today.
8 Essential Life Skills to Teach Your Kids:
1. Unconditional Love
By loving your children openly and wholeheartedly every day, you are showing them how to love themselves and others. Teaching kids to accept themselves for who they are will enable them to do the same with others. They must also be willing to forgive friends and family in order to love them unconditionally.
2. Social Awareness and Manners
Impart social and conversational skills from a young age by letting kids join in on adult gatherings from time to time. Don't make a habit of always segregating your children from the adults - they can learn a lot about etiquette, social cues and the art of conversation from watching grown-ups. These settings are also a good time to work on basic manners including the consistent use of "please," "thank you," "pardon me," as well as proper dining etiquette.
3. Respect for Others
Children learn respect from their family and it starts with family members caring for each other's physical space, thoughts, interests and needs. When kids feel that what's important to them is held in high regard by others, they will be able to emulate the same respect for their family and peers.
4. All Things Nature
Instill a lifelong love of the outdoors and of nature by spending plenty of time in the fresh air, in all kinds of weather. Let your kids climb trees at the park, plant seedlings in the garden, feed the birds in your backyard and jump in rain puddles on the street. All ages love summer camping, day hiking and picnics by the lake. When you give your kids a lot of exposure to our beautiful planet, it will make them appreciate it more and want to protect it for future generations.
5. Good Hygiene
Start early to create good hygiene habits that will stay with your kids forever - from teaching proper hand washing and teeth brushing techniques to tots, to encouraging daily bathing for sweaty teens. Make learning daily habits fun for young kids by singing, using props and giving out reward stickers. Good hygiene sets them up for good health and well-being in later life.
6. Food Preparation
Get your kids in the kitchen early, helping to select meals, prep food and cook with you. My son learned to prepare snacks with his classmates in preschool and loved it. He's been comfortable in our kitchen ever since and is not afraid to use a knife, stir a pot or get his hands dirty. Start by showing them how to make simple soups and pastas and work your way up to more complicated dishes.
7. Smart Shopping and Saving
Show your children the difference between whole foods and processed foods, how to eat in season and how to be savvy shoppers. Talk to them about brand versus non-brand, retail versus wholesale, and how to budget their money. Even young kids can save money in their piggy banks and learn how to bargain at a garage sale. Older children can open a bank account, start saving and help with shopping and errands.
With my recent goal of getting my house more organized, I've been reading "the life-changing magic of tidying up" by Marie Kondo. She highlights the fact that most of us have never been properly taught how to tidy! Start early by teaching your kids how to fold clothing neatly so they can find articles easier, and have them sort through their personal belongings to keep only things that "spark joy." A tidy room means a tidy mind, and ensures children can cut through the clutter to focus on what's important.