As my children get older and the time for them to leave my home gets closer, I am giving more and more thought to the skills they are going to need to acquire before they become adults.
There are many things I believe parents should teach their kids. That said, I am sharing a list of the top 10 skills all children should learn before they leave home.
1. Money management/financial literacy
This is a very important skill that too many people fail to learn prior to adulthood. All children should learn about the benefits of saving for things they want, planning for future financial needs and retirement, basic investing, appreciating versus depreciating assets, shopping for sales, the pitfalls of misusing credit and how to prepare (or at least prep properly) for filing income taxes.
2. The importance of being kind
Without kindness and compassion, there can be no joy or happiness. Modelling acceptance, respect and kindness toward others is the best way to teach children to be wonderful humans.
Supporting and encouraging their efforts to spread kindness in the world is helpful, too. Consider raising money for charity, making cards for seniors and/or painting rocks with positive messages and leaving them for people to find.
3. Basic cleaning skills
All children should learn to pick up after themselves and take care of their home and surroundings. At a minimum, they need to be able to declutter, organize, sweep, dust, wash dishes and do laundry.
4. Vehicle care and maintenance
It isn’t necessary to learn to be a mechanic, but young drivers can benefit greatly from learning to properly maintain a vehicle. This includes learning how to use jumper cables, maintain tire pressure, change a wiper blade, top up windshield washer fluid and pump gas.
5. Conflict resolution, accountability and the ability to deal with failure
Resiliency is hard to teach, but it’s important to learn. Parents should allow their kids to fail, teach them it is OK and show them the importance of working hard and trying again.
Teaching children to be accountable for their actions and how to deal with conflict in a respectful, positive and constructive way are also very important.
6. Communication skills
With the prevalence of technology, the importance of old-fashioned communication skills can sometimes get overlooked. All children should know how to write and mail a letter, make a phone call and have a conversation with a teacher, coach or boss.
7. Time-management skills
It’s never too early to learn time-management skills. Children (especially older children) need to learn to balance time with friends, time spent online, work, school and sports.
8. How to cook
Everyone should learn how to eat healthy, to shop for groceries economically and to prepare basic meals from scratch. Learning to plant a garden is fantastic, too.
9. How to form meaningful and healthy human connections
Children need to learn how to form and sustain healthy friendships and relationships. Young children can be taught the best way to have a good friend is to be a good friend, while older children can be taught how to establish respectful partnerships.
Teaching children the importance of self-care is the key to ensuring their mental health as they approach adulthood. It’s imperative that children learn to hydrate properly, manage their nutrition, regulate the amount of time they spend online, get enough sleep and engage in regular physical activity.
This is a pretty daunting list, but these are all important skills children need to learn. As parents, we need to focus on providing younger children with age-appropriate information and lessons. And, as they age, we can build on — and add to — their knowledge base.
We have 18 years to give kids the tools they need, so just take it one day at a time. You’ve got this!