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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Teaching Kids Life Skills

What does it take to be successful in life? What do our kids need to know in terms of life skills, you know, the things that are not necessarily taught in school?

Each family has their own ladder of values and priorities, for sure, so there will be some personally-important goals and some universally-important goals. Let’s take a look at a few of the most important skills that a young adult may need to journey to maturity.

1. Managing Money Issues—Making money is a great goal for any young person, to actually expect that they can be successful and bring home the bacon (or the bagels). “Success” has been a term of much discussion and even some derision in our country as of late, however, if an individual doesn’t believe that he or she has any control over their financial future, that can lead to despair. Teach your child how to train for a job, look for a job, and land a job.

Once the money is earned, holding onto it would be another tremendous life skill. Saving for retirement, saving for a major purchase whether home, car, or vacation, and saving a percentage for charitable giving would all prove to be beneficial. Many adults in this day and age need similar coaching.

Paying bills on time, avoiding debt, and knowing the difference between credit versus debit cards are important, too.

Investing, filing taxes, and comparing insurance rates and deductibles comprise the advanced level course for parents really wanting to teach their children how to prosper.

2. Basic Food Preparation—Whether it’s making coffee, boiling pasta, using a toaster, tossing a salad, or baking a chicken, food is a must-have for most folks. Hard as it is to understand, I’ve actually met people who get their meals from a drive-thru morning, noon, and night. Teach them how to make a simple soup or omelette, which veggies are most nutritious, and what food groups they should be pursuing on a regular basis.

We gave all of the kids the opportunity to fry their own egg in a pan. Interesting, very interesting.

3. Car Care—It might be filling the tires with air, checking the oil, keeping track of when to change the oil and rotate the tires. Discuss car care and how regular maintenance and upkeep will allow the car to run well for years to come. Sign me up for this one.

4. Personal Initiative & Work Ethic—Show your kids how to take charge of their lives and show up early and stay late—for a class, for a job, for a volunteer position. Demonstrate how to rise and shine on their own with an alarm clock, how to plan ahead for the possiblity of slow public transport, or traffic jams, how to lay out their clothes the night before, and be a positive, can-do type of person.

5. Household Chores and Laundry—Do they know how to sew on a button, or hem a pair of pants that are too long? One mother in her 40s recently confided to me that she sewed her first button ever, her mother-in-law having always mended everything prior to that. How often do sheets and towels need to be laundered, or clothing for that matter? I was surprised at what my children considered to be “clean”, as in, “We’ve only worn that 5,294 times before!”

When do you need to vacuum or mop the floor? Clean the bathroom? Wipe down the kitchen counters with… what? Left to their own imaginations, human beings don’t always arrive at the correct answers.

6. Personal Grooming—Use deodorant and shampoo your hair. Comb it, too. ‘Nuff said. No, on second thought—keep your heels from being run-down, and your shoes shined. Clean and file your nails. Have fresh breath and use chapstick or lip gloss. If you need a touch of makeup, make it tasteful and self-enhancing.

Discover what colors go with what colors. Dress nicely most of the time. Understand that flip-flops are meant for the beach or camp showers. Never wear a cap backwards unless you’re the catcher on a baseball team.

7. Compassion & Respect for Others—Think about those around you. Teaching your children this will pay off when you are old and crotchety. In the meantime, they will be a blessing to those around them and not so self-absorbed that they never make a difference in the world. Be service-oriented and show them how to extend themselves for others.

Refuse to take advantage of friends (or enemies). “Do no harm.”

8. Always Be Willing to Learn—All during our lives, we need to embrace new ideas, methods, and gadgets. I know of 80 year olds who can e-mail, and those who cannot. If our children are taught to be fearful, and apprehensive, and melt-down when facing something new, they will not go far in life. It benefits the brain and well-being of anyone who uses that muscle daily.

(And by reading this blog, you have just performed the equivalent of eight brain push-ups. Don’t you feel better, already?)

Your kids will thank you for preparing them well for life. It may take only ten or twenty minutes on the weekend to tackle one subject. But little by little, they will learn the skills that can lead to a really great future ahead.


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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Shelley says:

    Good food for thought! Thanks for this.

    • avatar admin says:

      You’re welcome, Shelley. Feel free to add any new categories. I just thought of another today as we had some “interactions” with the kids: Cause and Effect (as in “You don’t study and you WILL bomb-out on the test”)…!

  2. avatar hoonew says:

    Excellent summary! Life skills 101- you could teach it at the local high school.

    • avatar admin says:

      Thanks, hoonew, I’ll be there Monday. Oh… probably no kids there, yet…. Never mind, I keep adding to the list. By September, I’ll probably have 101 items, lol-!

  3. avatar Sybil says:

    Love with all your heart but love wisely.
    Appreciate nature.
    Don’t be afraid to say no and don’t be afraid to say yes.
    Do nice things for others without expecting to gain from it .
    Enjoy good food.
    Never forget how valuable family is.

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