Your children need life skills — here’s how to teach them

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It’s one of the many skills I’d wish she had if she ever found herself stuck in a parking lot – right at the same time as her father. I wanted to introduce him to a car engine, although to me it looks like mostly metal spaghetti.

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Parents know there are a whole host of life skills our kids need to learn, but my reasons are from my childhood.

My father taught me to do laundry, but no one talked about mental health – we covered our issues with bro talk and the conviction that real men don’t cry.


And nobody said anything about finances. This may explain why I took 22% of car loans when I was 24. To make it worse, both my parents were accountants. The forty-year-old makes me cry over that memory. (Yes, I’ve told them I have a complaint.)

Car repair, finances, cooking and mental health: There are so many skills we need to be taught that this can often seem overwhelming.

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What can they learn on their own? How much do we teach versus standing back and letting them learn from experience?

I’ve continued these life skills lessons with my three kids over the years—and I don’t divide chores by gender. A clever man once told me that “cuisines don’t care about gender,” and I make it a point to give my sons—not just my daughter—the basic things they need to know as independent adults. in will be required.

Don’t be intimidated if you haven’t started early with your kids. I have found that the middle school years are a perfect time to teach many of them. Here’s how I do it.

Life skills start at home

I started my children on household chores at a young age because I refuse to send any of them into the world, because I am not able to provide the most basic care for myself.

We started small like teaching them to crack an egg or load the washing machine. We made a game out of it and let it mess up. With these short exposures, the children eventually became comfortable with the housework, gained competence and then finally gained confidence.

If there’s pushiness or a lack of enthusiasm, don’t worry. Consistency and patience is the key. keep at it.

Over the years of this experiment, my 13-year-old son can cook a basic meal and is in charge of cooking Sunday nights. That means planning, shopping, and preparing meals. My 15 year old daughter has Saturday nights with the same responsibilities. She also does a lot of car maintenance work with me. Everyone is responsible for doing their own laundry.

Jessica Lahey, Writer “Gift of Failure” Advocates that we teach autonomy to our children so that they are more motivated to engage in the business of their lives and learn how to be competent.

We do this by giving them clear expectations and then we move away from them once we teach them. It allows our children to take ownership of the task, and Lahey notes that they learn to solve problems and deal with failure.

Yes, we’ve had some spectacular disasters in this house – we all miss the great Lemon Tart disaster of 2018 and the Banshee smoke alarm. Each was a moment where we could come together as a family, work out solutions and deal with the consequences.

One of my proudest moments was when my eighth grade son taught his older cousin how to grill the perfect All-American brat. As a father, I’ll admit, I was a little torn as soon as he double-clicked the tongs.

it’s all about the bills

Money can be a taboo subject for many people, as my own high interest car loan experience can show. This skill is very difficult for me to teach because I am not that comfortable with it. But it is important to come within the ambit of financial literacy and ensure that our children learn it.

Jump$Tart Coalition CEO Laura Levine said when parents and children learn together it makes a more lasting impact. The Jump$Tart Coalition advocates for financial literacy in schools from grades K to 12.

She recommends starting with small and controlled exposure to our middle school kids, like Lahey.

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“Practice using an app or student debit card. Teach on a small scale, within safety, but with consequences for their actions,” she said. “To gain your child’s interest, make sure children are presented with discussion in a way that speaks to them. That way they can see themselves by example.”

This means that I do not give allowance to my children. There are jobs that they have to do as it is expected as part of the family. But there are paying jobs around the house like cleaning the garage and mom’s car after a long week at work.

With that money, the kids build their holiday fund. This is money that they are free to spend however they like. I find that when they are responsible for their money, they are more frugal. We are also able to form savings habits that help them continue to practice as adults.

I’ve started getting my kids involved a little bit when I do my taxes too. So far, their conclusion is that Dad will have to go to court if I don’t pay my taxes (but that’s a start.) As they grow, they’ll become more involved in explaining the secret to the skill. , and they will understand.

teaching mental health management

Finally, like money, many parents have a hard time talking about mental health until it reaches crisis levels. Learning to manage their mental health is a life skill that I cannot ignore.

It has a way of affecting every other area of ​​their lives, including cleanliness, hygiene and managing their money responsibly. From doubts and anxiety to more serious issues, they now need to learn coping skills.

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How do we start a discussion on these topics? There is a simple answer, but in practice it is difficult. We teach our children about mental health by being honest with them and showing them our struggles.

That’s not to say that we dump an epidemic year or two of parenting on our kids. But let’s be honest we are sometimes worried, or depressed, or doubting our abilities.

Again, we start small in a way that they can understand. But we show them that not only is it okay to be vulnerable, but they are not alone.

We treat mental health the same way we treat our physical health. Speaking to a lot of fathers, most said that we lead by example. This means getting our mental health check-up done and being honest with the people around us.

The middle school years are such a wonderful opportunity to teach our kids the skills they’ll eventually need.

Just remember to develop comfort by introducing them to the subject in short, short bursts, develop competence by guiding them and let them gain confidence with skill once they take ownership.

Shannon Carpenter is the author of “The Ultimate Stay-At-Home Dad” and co-host of the Deadhouse podcast. He and his family live in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.


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