7 Essential life skills to equip your child for the ‘real world’

By Tamara Mafilika, MaryAnne Isaac Time of article published Nov 20, 2020

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The “real world” is not what it was 10 or 15 years ago – a lot has changed, especially as the world trudges through Covid-19. Preparing our children for a post-Covid world has to happen now, and we can only do this by instilling in them essential life skills to help them be strong and independent individuals.

You may have, at times, questioned or wondered how independent your child actually is. Or if your child is well-equipped with essential life skills to face the world. It’s important to ask these questions – and it’s absolutely necessary for children to learn about life other than just academics.

Ellen Galinsky, in her ground-breaking book Mind in the Making, and child development experts at Flintobox both agree that life skill education simply cannot stop with the exposure your child receives in school.To learn its importance, a child needs to be taught at home through experiences and training activities.

Here are 7 life skills to equip your children.

1. Taking care of their health

You can’t expect to always be around whenever your child gets hurt or decides to leap from a tree like Spiderman. Children are bound to get hurt while playing. Show them a first aid kit and explain its importance. Teach them how to use a first aid kit. Another important skill is teaching your child to take care of their health. Eating veggies and drinking water is all good, but one also has to have adequate sleep and think positive thoughts.

2. Decision-making skills

Your child will have to make important decisions in life at some stage. Whether it’s about education, career, life partners or finance, there are so many important decisions we need to make in our lives.

How about instilling the skill of making appropriate and wise decisions from an early age?

Teach them in small and simple ways on how to make wise decisions. Start by asking them to choose between two activities and games,between two different types of clothes or two different food items. Explain the difference between the two and its consequences.

3. Money and basic budgeting

This is a really important basic life skill. Try giving your child weekly pocket money that they have to use for their expenses. Teach them the difference between a want and a need. If they wish to buy something expensive, ask them to save up their pocket money to buy it, or you can play bank and lend them a portion of the amount.

Tell them that for every portion of the money they save, you’ll add a certain amount of money to their savings so they can buy it. This will surely motivate them to save, budget and spend money wisely.

4. Interacting with other people

We teach children about “stranger danger” and “good touch, bad touch”, but let’s also consider the fact that every person we get close to as adults was once a stranger to us at some point.

According to child psychologists, you should teach your child to do exactly what adults do. Teach them to differentiate between good strangers and bad strangers, and how to interact with good strangers.

Most importantly, teach them how to make friends, how to be friendly to good adults, and just how they should go about interacting with these people.

5. How to be kind and show empathy

If your child comes to you with a problem that he or she may have had with their school peers, encourage them to look at a situation that took place from the perspective of others as well.

Explain the different emotional reactions from people and why someone is sad or angry. This helps increase their problem-solving abilities and their level of understanding.

6. Taking on challenges

Children learn to take on challenges when we create an environment with the right amount of structure—not so much as to be limiting, but enough to make them feel safe. Encourage your child to try new things and allow reasonable risk, such as climbing a tree or riding a bike.

7. Self-directed, engaged learning

A child who loves learning becomes an adult who is rarely bored in life. To encourage a love of learning, try to limit television and encourage plenty of reading, play, and open-ended exploration. Model curiosity and enthusiasm for learning in your own life by visiting the library together, making games available, and allowing for some messes at home.

These simple tips can easily help your child build essential skills.

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