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 Parentchildhelp.com and author of “Raising Your Spirited Child” which expresses similar sentiments. The following concepts are those I consider important.
WORK/LIFE BALANCE IS ESSENTIAL AT ANY AGE
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.
TEACHING BASCIC HOUSEHOLD SKILLS
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.
INSTILLING SOCIAL TALENTS AND MANNERS
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:
- Say “please” and “thank you” without prompting.
- Write a letter and send it via “snail mail”.
- How to apologize if they acted wrongly or offended a friend.
- Speak to strangers politely but say “no” to inappropriate requests. Avoid situations that don’t “feel right”. (this should be taught as early as possible).
- Speak respectfully to adults, and converse on an equal basis . (Learning mature ways of communication fuels school and business success).
- Order a meal in a restaurant.
- Show empathy for others by donating things like outgrown clothing or unused toys to charity, volunteering to help neighbors or an organization.
COMMITTING CONTACT INFORMATION TO MEMORY FOR REASONS OF SECURITY
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