Life skills to teach your kids

There are so many adults around these days who haven’t really grown up. People who live off takeaways and microwave meals because they don’t know how to cook, people who squander their money at the pub or in the shops and have to call mommy and daddy for a ‘one off’ loan at the end of every month, and people who buy a new jacket every time a button falls off their current one.

Of course, these people have to accept responsibility for their inability to do anything for themselves, but some of the blame lies elsewhere. Many of these people find themselves in this position because their parents waited hand and foot on them into their teens and early twenties, allowing them to spend their youths playing video games. Some of these people were told to follow their dreams, that they could achieve whatever they wanted to do and that taking part was the same as winning. So they graduate from college with a degree that nobody is looking for, no skills, no idea how to take care of themselves and a debt that they’re unlikely to ever pay off. At this point, everything is more difficult for them. If you have kids now and you have any concern at all for their futures, you’d better make sure they know how to take care of themselves.

There are several key life lessons that everyone has to learn in order to stay afloat in this world. One of the most important is to learn about how money works. Some children really have no idea at all about where money comes from and they simply expect you to hand over however much they need. Start talking about money with your child. Take them shopping with you and show them the price of things you buy. Explain your household budget in terms they can understand. When they are old enough, allow them to earn an allowance by doing chores. When they don’t do their chores, don’t pay them. If they offer to do extra, pay them for it – it’s a sign your lessons are working. When they are old enough, let them earn their own money in their own part-time jobs. Discuss their purchases and the concepts of liabilities and assets. Teach them how to make their own budgets and doo their own accounting. Kids who learn these lessons go on to be financially savvy young adults.

Get your kids involved in the day to day running of the household. Teach them how to use a sewing machine. Once they have had some practice, let them do some darning or other chores that need to be done. Once your child is old enough to act responsibility around hazards, you can start them off with basic woodworking and metalwork. Start off with something simple like having them shorten the logs for the fireplace. Teach them how to cook the food they like and encourage them to be creative and avoid waste in the kitchen. You can also combine this with growing their own vegetables, herbs and so on. These lessons combine well with learning about the importance of eating well and being physically active. If your child is overweight with no underlying medical cause, get them involved in athletics or sports. Many overweight young adults resent their parents for overfeeding them and not pushing them to exercise.

In order to learn self-discipline, respect for others, cooperation and a variety of skills, encourage them to join a uniformed youth group such as the scouts, sea cadets, air cadets or a similar organization. For older kids such as those who have left high school but are going nowhere fast in life, the military offers huge rewards. They can get into shape, make lots of friends, travel around the word, learn skills and get qualifications which will serve them well when they return to civilian life.

None of these things have to be seen as an imposition on the child. They may be resistant to certain activities at first, but that is no reason not to try them. If they really hate something after trying it for a while, let them choose something they would prefer. Make the effort with your child now and they will thank and respect you for it for the rest of their lives.