Parents these days are apt to shove the responsibility for teaching their children essential life skills onto the schools. This attitude is causing a huge gap in their education meaning too many children are growing up unable to function as responsible and effective adults.
We need to get in touch with our Inner Imp Honesty and realise that schools are responsible for the three ‘Rs’: reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmatic. Over and above that, it’s up to us to equip our kid with all the other tools he or she will need as an adult.
So, how and what should we be teaching them?
Most of the important life lessons for children are taught by example, show and tell and then the opportunity to “have a go” themselves and make mistakes under your watchful (but forgiving) eye. Once they’ve got it (and they will get it), you then need to trust them to do it on their own with nothing more than an odd sneaky peaky every now and then to ensure things are still going according to plan.
Life skills activities depend very much on the age of your children. Have a look around at age appropriate activities, what they’re learning at school, etc., and judge for yourself. The important thing to remember is that it’s never too early to start. Below is a rough idea of some of the life lesson areas you ought to be looking at.
They’re in Control of their Life – teach them that they are the one in control of their life. Others will throw hurdles in their path but, with the right CANDo get-up and go-go attitude, they can change things they don’t like, achieve their goals and live life on their terms. If they grumble and moan about something, encourage them think about ways they could change things or make them better (most things really can be changed or, at the very least, improved). If something really can’t be changed, teach them how to simply accept and let go of the negativity.
Encourage a CANDo Attitude – encourage them to develop a positive outlook on life. When they say “I can’t do that!’, motivate them not to dwell on what they can’t do but to consider what they CANDo – there are always options. Help them find the positive in things, even when things go wrong or they make a mistake. As a family, live by the motto “if I can’t say/think anything positive, try not to say/think anything at all.”
Getting Things Done – Self-Discipline, Laziness and Procrastination, et al are mere Inner Imp puppies in your child’s head at the moment but, they’re growing fast. Make sure they develop strong life skills for controlling these guys by encouraging them to make a start on things they don’t want to do, do the must-do’s before the want-to’s, persevere, control Fear and resist Temptation even when things get tough.
Logical Thinking – help them use their brains and develop independent thinking so they don’t simply follow the crowd and emulate friends. If they ask for something, get into the habit of asking “why?” and encouraging them to reason, negotiate, cajole, barter, etc. for things. Ask them to explain why they consider something unfair, bad, good, nice, etc., when they pass comment on things they or others see and do. Help them realise they don’t need to know all the answers, they just need to know how to go about finding the answers.
Life isn’t a Competition – from an early age we’re taught to compete for the best marks, to know all the answers or be the best on the sport’s field. All this does is make your child feel inferior because not everyone can be the best. Teach your child to go for what they want until they are happy. Others can be better but, as long as they are (honestly) happy with their performance, that is the key to a successful life. A successful life does not mean being the best, prettiest, richest, etc. It means going for what you want and being happy and positive about your personal achievements and how you’re living your life.
Social Skills – this covers a plethora of life skills such as tolerance of differences, empathy and compassion, listening, caring that other people are happy too, etc., etc. All through their life, your child will need to interact positively with others and it’s all these life skills that make that happen.
Everyday Life – they’re responsible for keeping themselves and their surroundings in tip top condition, eating healthily, the importance of exercise, organising their time and money, saving, budgeting: all these are practical things you probably take for granted but they are essential life skills to teach your child.
Children are responsible, effective adults in training. Schools are really only responsible for the academic side of a child’s training. The development of their Inner Imps, practical, social, logical and everyday life skills is down to you as their parent.
Here at CANDo life skills, we’re developing a programme of CANDoable Life Lessons for Kids that, step-by-step, will take you and your child through a whole programme of CANDoable life skills activities that will ensure you’re teaching them what they need to know. If you’d like to know more, sign up below to receive pre-notification of the launch and one free CANDoable Life Lesson for Kids once the programme is published.Join Up!