Children Can Learn Real Life Skills Before Age Ten

Involving children in household tasks early makes life easier for all family members.

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photo of family sharing dinner
A family shares a meal together. A good time to teach skills and manners.

Kids these days know all kinds of things. Like how to win at video games, ways to communicate with others using electronic devices. What they don’t know they can find out, via a Google search.

The digital age is here and it’s essential to be prepared but sadly, many youngsters are lacking basic life skills and manners; things that used to be more commonly taught at an earlier age. This post focuses upon some important real life skills children can and should learn from their parents before they turn ten.

The fact that today’s kids are missing out on the type of childhood pre-millennials experienced; when parents instilled offspring with skills and values even many of today’s adults lack, has long been a concern of mine. So I was heartened to find an article sharing the insight of author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, director of and author of “Raising Your Spirited Child” which expresses similar sentiments. The following concepts are those I consider important.


In earlier generations, children were pressed into performing chores at home due to necessity. Over the past few decades, this view has changed. It seems more important to parents that children participate in school activities, socializing or spend time doing things they enjoy.

Those are fulfilling goals, but contributing to the function of a home supports self-esteem of a different kind . When a family’s attitude toward household tasks is positive, even children as young as two will find being taught to accomplish the ones within their ability level rewarding.

All play and no work, or vice versa, as the old school saying goes, does make for a “dull child”, or, as we should say, an individual unprepared for the realities of life. Requiring a child to help out around the house is a step toward making him or her a responsible adult.

Sometimes parents may find it easier to perform the tasks themselves, than to teach a child to complete them correctly. But by doing so they are missing out on quality time with their offspring and the chance to nurture a sense of responsibility. Teaching a child to take pride in accomplishments improves later career performance. The immediate bonus for parents is the gift of free time they receive when a child learns to perform an essential daily task without assistance.


By age ten most children are capable of learning how to:

  • Set a table for dinner
  • Wash dishes
  • Fold and put away clothing
  • Make beds
  • Dust and sweep floors
  • Care for plants and pets
  • Safely operate some appliances (except those presenting risk of danger)
  • Safely cook basic foods like eggs, pasta, oatmeal
  • Safely cut up vegetables
  • Respond when someone is injured

Obviously, though a child can learn these tasks, only a few should be assigned for completion each day, in keeping with age and function level.


Children have the reputation of behaving in an erratic, immature manner. But that doesn’t need to be the case. Even before ten they are capable of learning how to do the following:


At the youngest possible age, children should be taught to memorize:

  • Their home phone number and the numbers of their parent’s cell phones.
  • Their home address.
  • Names and if possible phone numbers and/or addresses of other reliable adults who could be contacted in an emergency if parents aren’t available.

The abilities of children should not be underestimated. When taught basic tasks and concepts and rewarded with sincere approval – no need for lavish gifts, they will gain confidence and display sound judgment at an early age; qualities that facilitate lifelong personal and professional success

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