As parents and primary caregivers of children we must prepare them for life. From the moment they first become ours to nurture and take care of, we have a responsibility (whether we acknowledge it fully or not) to help them both survive and succeed in life.
How to help your child succeed in life should surely be one of the major reasons we do what we do, as parents and caregivers. We should do our upmost to literally prepare them for life and for being independent functioning adults, and that does take some planning and practical effort, both short term and long term.
One of the things that stands out for me personally as a parent is that I must make every effort to impart actual day to day life skills to my children. Surely, there is no point in encouraging a child to be a top achieving student academically, or to encourage them to excell in some area of particular giftedness that they have (such as in sport or music), and not ensure that they also have the necessary basic life skills to look after themselves. We need to prepare our children with those necessary skills to help provide themselves in later life with food, shelter, sound health and well-being, as well as good social skills for positive relationships and constructive citizenship.
If you are a parent of a child it is absolutely up to you to teach them the basics. We can and must step up and teach our child how to cook, clean, budget, do home maintenance, etc and the sooner we start the better. As a young adult I left home to go off to do tertiary training and I wasn't at all equipped for a number of the real life aspects of home away from home. I barely knew how to use a cheque book and I certainly had no idea how to change a lightbulb or even a car tyre for that matter! Looking back with hindsight I was, quite frankly, rather clueless and ill-equipped on the life skills front.
Looking back, I would have had so much more opportunities and advantages potentially awarded to me if I had been taught an even greater range of life skills, before leaving the family nest. I want to ensure that my own children are far more clued up and far more experienced and practically skilled than I ever was. Yes, it is wonderful to promote academic excellence before your child, but if they have no idea whatsoever about how to properly sort their household laundry, or have never learnt a healthy range of meals to prepare, they will be incredibly ill-prepared for actual daily life!
I expect both my children to have all the basic life skills, regardless of their gender or their natural preference for particular activities. Life really is such that we must prepare a child for day to day life living; regardless of any preconceived social ideas about who should do what or the like.
I personally believe it is most beneficial for my son to be just as good at understanding the practices around cleaning and cooking as my daughter. Likewise, it is beneficial for my daughter to know how to change a tap washer, a car tyre or jump start a flattened car battery. We simply do not know what very skill will prove to make a significant difference in our child's life ahead! We have a responsibility to equip our children, each of them, as much and as best we can for what may be on life's path at a future date.
Some mothers can be their child's worst enemy, with their over-mothering of their children, even through to them being in adulthood. You know the type. There are some mothers who go about after their offspring, regardless of their child's actual age, constantly picking up after them, making their beds, doing all the aspects of their laundry, etc and the result is deemed wonderful because everything looks good and is perfectly in place! Yet, what has really been achieved with regards to actual skill sharing?
How can a young adult not know how to properly make their very own bed or care for their laundry in this the year 2020?! Surely, this would clearly not constitute genuine true success for life, in this current day and age! How can we deem ourselves a parenting success for gifting a child a cellphone and have not set up for them to take full responsibility for paying to run that very cellphone eventually?! We have to put in place that which promotes independence and that which includes good stewardship of all things material and immaterial also.
Yes, we can do things faster and better than a child, yet we have to think beyond the immediate outcome and think further afield down the track. We simply must train our children up in the way they will eventually go. We want them to be independent and functioning human beings, who show thoughtfulness literally to others, via their contributions. We surely want our children to not be helpless and dependent on others. We surely want our children not to be sadly placed in a position later in life of being easily exploited for their ignorance or lack of ability or skill!
There are many skills we can impart to a very small child, that will hold them in good stead. Surely we want that for them when they themselves are one day an adult, have their very own household, and are out interacting independently in the wider world.
I would like to share some ideas about teaching a child life skills, over the next little while, via this very blog. There are skills that can be taught, and that are age specific, that we as parents can share with even very young children. I sincerely hope what is shared will both encourage and inspire other parents & caregivers, when it comes to training up and skilling their children for success in life.
I am still very much on the journey myself, when it comes to parenting and training up our young children. However, I genuinely hope by sharing some insights all learnt along the way, and by sharing some helpful tips that have worked well for our household, that it might prove encouraging and helpful for others also in a similar season of life with young children.
Life skills take time to learn and master. Some can often prove to be quite complex skills that require much simpler steps to be initially grasped by a child first.
Everything from waterplay, with some nonbreakable dishes, can help install in a child the basic skills needed for life going forward. What was once simply waterplay can lead to washing and drying the nightly dishes, or even eventually taking responsibility for loading and unloading the dishwasher.
We have to start with simple basic skill sharing. We have to practice immense patience as we repeatedly model and guide, and eventually each individual skill gets learnt and mastered for growing complexity and success. We can literally teach our children to have success in life by developing their independence and dexterity in a range of diverse practical day to day life skills!
As a parent I can promote open communication with my children as we go about learning each new skill, and we can discuss the benefiting consequences that result when the particular skill has been fully mastered. I have personally found that my children grasp life skills so much better, when the reasoning behind what is taught to them is explained in ways that they can understand. They remember it better, and they understand why we do what we do and how we do it, when time is taken to get it right from the outset. What is done with intentional thoughtfulness and care, often proves to be done eventually with excellence and noticeable immense skill.
How to help your child succeed in life? It can begin as early as training up a two year old to master some very basic skills. As I explained to my young ten year old son very recently, the very same principles that apply for putting away his soccer ball and keeping it out of the rain and sun after playing with it, are also those that would help him potentially look after a large commercial grade farming tractor, should he choose to own one at a much later date. Both items can suffer damage if not looked after properly, and it takes thoughtfulness and conscious effort on his part to keep all his personal property in good order.
Go for it and help your child succeed in life today, by starting the new year with a simple and age appropriate system of chores being set up and implemented across your whole household. The legacy of skilling our children with day to day life skills, will benefit our descendants potentially for generations upon generations to come. We can help a child succeed in life, beginning today.