At The Aspire Group, we talk a lot about the importance of Life Skills. We would define Life Skills as those essential abilities and skills that, when developed, and incorporated in one’s daily living, help make us independent, self-sufficient and adaptable. Our children are not born with them, which means that they must be developed and learned. Consequently, parental guidance and support is critical in this process.
Here is our list of essential Life Skills:
-Focus and self-control
-Effective communication abilities
-Ability to establish connections
-Critical thinking & Problem-solving abilities
-Stress-coping skills & ability to face challenges
-Self-management and desire to learn
So, as a Parent, you may ask, “How do I teach my child these Life-Skills?” In actuality, it is your child that will be able to teach themselves these skills as you provide them the chance. The challenge for parents is stepping aside and allowing their children the opportunities to learn these on their own without running interference. All too often, with all good intentions, parents stand in the way of their kids’ learning opportunities.
Below is a list of possible ways that parents can provide critical learning opportunities where Life Skills may develop.
Household chores are a must. Kids must learn self-sufficiency by doing laundry, ironing, washing cars, painting the house, cutting the grass and landscaping, house cleaning, washing dishes, and cooking. Letting your child make a family dinner is a great self-esteem builder.
Managing Money. Providing kids a chance to earn their own money and to spend it is skill-building. It is also a good idea to provide them a weekly “allowance” that will teach them how to budget and save-up for something they would like to purchase.
Grocery & Household Shopping provides kids the chance to see beyond the foods they see at home. They can learn what foods cost and how to select groceries are priced and how to make price comparisons.
Getting around independently whether by bike, train, taxi or ride-sharing car services is a wonderful way to develop a sense of independence. You might enhance these experiences by allowing them use of a mobile phone with a requirement to phone you at certain intervals or providing them a key or combination code to enter the house on their own. These are responsibility builders.
Vacation Travel can provide learning opportunities. Include them in the planning process and learning about the destination. Let your child make a list of what they will be taking on the trip and let them do their own packing. While you may ask if they have taken certain items, refrain from inspecting. It will be okay if they have forgotten to include something. Allow them the chance to be responsible for themselves.
Apprenticing. Give your kids a chance to be your “partner” whether in going to the post office, bank, library, going to the polls to vote, picking up a prescription at the pharmacy, or more. Engage them in discussions about what are your activities and why. Stimulate their questions. This is a great way to learn when out on their own.
Modeling. Your child will quickly learn from how you interact with others; with what you say and do. Always set a proper example of what you hope for from them. Your chances of seeing this from them when you model the appropriate behavior is significantly higher.