This week I have had my granddaughters here with me, so I have been busy with their homeschool days and keeping a balanced happy and even keel here at home. The topic that has been on my mind is what we teach our children in the way of life skills. Specifically, I have been thinking about the reasons why some kids thrive, but others constantly whine, fight, or complain. Or worse, why they can’t function in the real world.
Why some kids thrive, teaching real life skills.
My daughter and I were discussing how important it is to get it right while the kids are young. It is a whole lot simpler to teach good habits and discipline to a child than it is to reign in or help a teen ager who has never learned self discipline or respect.
Truthfully, it starts with the adults in the situation.
First, teach manners. Manners are a good building block for kids. If you are consistent in teaching respectful interaction, they will be more successful overall.
In our own home, the grands never fail to make me laugh. But, they also require me to get serious and remind them to say yes ma’am and no ma’am, please, thank you, and I ‘m sorry. On the whole though their manners are great, and as long as we are consistent, they are respectful to us and kind to one another.
I also teach them to say “No thank you.” Kids that can choose things when they are younger have a better sense of self. Knowing they can say No to someone is vital for all ages.
Secondly, adults should be respectful to get respect. This habit is good for everyone.
Speak to your spouse with respect especially in front of the children. They 100% learn what they live. Don’t belittle the kids, criticize them, or constantly yell at them. Calm yourself, take a breath.
Tag team if you have to, but treat them as you want to be treated, like they have a brain. Allow opinion and consider their view. Give them space to laugh and talk. Make room for play.
However, correct their truly bad behavior immediately.
Establish boundaries for the kids that make sense.
For example: Eat at the table, go to bed at a regular time, no scary movies, and no bullying anybody, including younger siblings. Do not interrupt unless someone is injured or about to be injured.
Consistent rules dispel chaos and establish a good parent-child relationship.
More Life skills:
Teach them how to do laundry, wash dishes, run the vacuum, and clean a room quickly. If you teach them when they are young, they will do it when they are teens.
Teach them to save money in an account, and how to earn money for something they want. If you give an allowance, require daily chores. Start with something simple.
Every age should have chores, just like every age needs some free non scheduled time.
Take them with you when you have to take care of your car, so they see what is involved. Later teach them to check the oil, get it changed.
My dad showed me how to change a tire. He took me on jobs and let me see and do actual work. He expected me to help, volunteer, and finish what I started.
Give kids hygiene and clean clothes lessons.
Talk to them about how they feel about themselves and let them pick out their clothes at an early age. If the first time they can choose is in high school, you might regret not letting them be involved in clothing decisions.
Don’t laugh, but teach them to make a bed and gasp, clean the toilet.
Teach them to boil an egg, make breakfast, and a couple of go to meals even when they are young like bacon and eggs, salad, or spaghetti.
Teach them how to make appointments by having them do it.
It is our job to teach kids the value of hard work and to have a good attitude. In fact, overcome your own bad attitude and give young people a healthy view of the world and their place in it.
Most importantly, teach them to not be a victim and choose their future by giving them the skills to work towards their goals.
To jump start them in life, help them find their passion. Find a class in karate, dance, or kayaking and expose them to several past times. When they fail or don’t do as well as they like, teach them to own it and do better for themselves.
If you always make excuses for them or run interference, they will not be able to function in the real world as they get older. Don’t solve all their problems for them.
Giving them life skills will help them more than anything an adult can buy them. If you are a giver, teach them to work for the things they want.
Finally, don’t be lazy. Enforce the rules and don’t give in to whining and manipulation. Be consistent. You will handicap them in the future if you do.
As parents and grandparents, it is up to us to make sure they get enough food and sleep, enough affection, enough play, and enough work and discipline. A healthy balance of the good times and good habits takes effort from everyone involved but creates great kids.
You and I are teachers. Life skills 101. For more on parenting and grandparenting click here.