By Toni W. Riley
Being a parent has to be the toughest, but most rewarding job anyone can have. It’s work and it’s frustrating, but it’s amazing. The biggest challenge is teaching your child everything they need to know to survive in the real world. The responsibility of teaching them life skills — specifically, skills that will help them grow into adulthood — lies on parents and can seem overwhelming. Whether it’s values, such as compassion and integrity, or mother wit, like doing laundry or hammering a nail, parents have immense responsibility in preparing a child for adulthood.
There are many excellent charts on the Internet that suggest age-appropriate skills and responsibilities for children, but the hard part is letting the child learn them.
It’s adorable when a 2-year-old says “I do it myself” during clean-up time. Although it would be easier and quicker for a parent to scoop up the toys, don’t. Teaching children to be responsible for their actions and letting them take care of themselves prepares them for when they will have to “do it themselves.”
Check out the lists below to get a good idea of what skills your child should know before leaving the nest.
Emergency and Safety Procedures
1. When and how to call 911. Explain what situations are real emergencies and what situations can be handled at home. Play the “what if” game.
2. Memorize home address and
important phone numbers
3. Simple first aid, and what to do for a cut, bruise or burn
4. How to put out a grease fire.
5. Basic car knowledge
- How to change a tire
- How to jump start a car
- How to check your oil, fluids and tire pressure
6. At the appropriate age, teens take a class to learn CPR.
Since online banking, debit and credit cards have taken over today’s society, children don’t see much actual, hard cash. However, money sense is too valuable not to teach at every age.
1. Children need to learn at an early age that parents work hard for money and it enables that little plastic card to be used. Even more important, that card should not be used if there isn’t money in the account. Piggy banks are not out of style for saving money.
2. Paying bills. Even with online bill pay, children need to understand what a bill is and know it has to be paid. Let your child see a bill and watch how you pay it.
3. Balancing a check book and how to fill out a check. Again, this is not out of style. With mobile banking, it’s easy for everyone to just open the app, but it’s still important to keep a running total of what’s in the account in case there is a payment that hasn’t cleared.
4. Loans and interest. Children need to understand how loans and interest work before they are ready to buy their first car or get a college loan. They should also know what happens if the loan isn’t paid back.
5. Paying taxes. Whether county, state or federal, explain what each tax is and why we pay them
1. How to sign their name and read cursive
2. How to type on a computer keyboard
3. Who their public officials are and what they do
4. How to tell time on an analog clock and read a physical map
5. How to swim and ride a bike
6. How to properly fill out an envelope
Teaching children these and many other life skills is sometimes hard for parents because it takes away some of the control or power of the parent. However, no parent is doing their child a favor when their child doesn’t learn to take care of themselves and move toward adulthood. Common sense, thinking skills and self-confidence along with hands-on life skills will help children learn to make successful life decisions.