This article is about integrating real-life skills for kids into their lives.
As parents, it feels we’re genetically programmed to want to help our kids. Nature makes sure of it by filling our helpless babies full of feel-good oxytocin and implementing other interesting safety nets to ensure we protect them. Unfortunately, sometimes we overdo it, particularly in the modern era of the helicopter parent.
Part of our jobs as parents is to train our children to become functioning adults who are capable of, well “adulting”, and that means letting go. Sure we need to keep them safe, but we also need to teach them skills and independence is a part of that. We should be allowing our kids to make mistakes and learn how to problem-solve without parachuting in to save the day like super mom or dad.
Parents Should Teach Kids Life Skills
A number of years ago a self-proclaimed helicopter mom I knew complained that she had to drive to her daughter’s university every other weekend. (we’re talking about a four-hour drive here) to launder her clothes, cook batches of homemade meals, and clean her off-campus apartment.
It was as if she were her daughter’s own certified cleaning service and chef, and although she complained she loved her daughter needs her.
Here’s the thing, although the mom meant well she wasn’t really helping her daughter gain other important life skills one acquires when they live on their own. Yes, the daughter was able to focus on her studies and graduated with high honors, all while enjoying the indulgences of home-cooked meals and freshly cleaned clothes, but she’s now a 23-year old whose culinary opus is a fried egg on toast.
And seriously what university experience is complete without having to rely on ramen noodles and cereal for dinner? Knowing when to take the training wheels off and when to hover closely with your child can be a fine balance, especially when they’re older and as parents, we’re yearning for an opportunity to feel needed again.
At the same time, the adage of teaching a man to fish will teach him how to eat for a lifetime comes to mind. While all of these ages may slightly vary depending on the child, the skills listed below by age should provide a solid basis for getting your kids prepared for the real world.
Tips How to Teach Your Child According to Their Age
Essentially, you must teach life skills to kids according to their ages. Here are skills to teach them.
Kids skills for ages 4 to 5
- Help put away their own toys/tidy their room
- Dress themselves
- Help set the table
- Brush their own teeth and wash their face
- How to make an emergency phone call (and know their full name, address, and phone number)
- Identify money types and amounts
Kids skills for ages 6 to 9
- Make a sandwich
- Use a dull knife to cut up fruit and veggies for food preparation
- Make their own bed (including changing the sheets)
- Wash the dishes
- Fold their clothes
- Learn simple sewing and mending
- Help create a grocery list
- Take a proper phone message
- Order at a restaurant
Kids skills for ages 10 to 12
- Do the Laundry
- Wrap a gift like a pro
- Hammer a nail
- Write a solid thank you letter (including addressing it, stamping it, and mailing it)
- Cook a few basic meals
- Read a map (you can make it fun with geocaching or have them take the lead on a trip to the zoo or museum)
- Learn simple first aid (like treating a cut)
- Clean the kitchen and bathroom
- Comparison shop for deals
Kids skills for ages 13 until college
- Go to the store alone and make purchases
- Stay home alone (there are numerous courses available to help a child learn how to cope when home alone and even become babysitters – this should include first aid training)
- Use the oven and stove to bake and cook
- Mow the lawn
- Take public transportation
- Read a bank statement
Should teach them during college
- Work on maintenance chores (like changing a vacuum bag, lint trap, plunge a toilet, etc.)
- Fill a bike tire or car tire with air
- Put gas in a car and change a tire
- Master a job or academic interview
- Not be too proud to ask parents for their help or feedback when they get into a jam
We can’t teach our kids everything, but by allowing them to get a little life experience and make some mistakes they’ll be able to troubleshoot their way out of most problems, and think about all the free time you’ll have once your kids are cooking, cleaning, and mowing the lawn!
Read more tips on how to teach your child life learning skills in our article Teach Kids Entrepreneurship Skills To Succeed page.
Sara is a freelance writer, award winning parenting blogger, and public relations specialist from Toronto, Canada. She is mother to fraternal girl/boy twins, loves music, hiking, and offbeat pop culture.