It was recently brought to my attention just how rare it is to find college age kids and young adults with what I consider to be basic life skills. You know, like being able to balance a checkbook, cook a meal, do laundry, or communicate effectively.
So, over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the life skills our kids are desperately in need of now, more than ever. We began by talking about personal finance skills, moved into cooking and cleaning, and last week, we touched on relationship skills.
This week, we’re exploring Self Awareness Skills. You might be thinking – what even are self awareness skills? At first glance, you might think that they are things that shouldn’t have to or need to be taught, but I assure you – they do need teaching!
We’re talking simple skills like knowing how to prioritize tasks, keeping focused, and basic etiquette – plus much more. Without these very necessary skills, our kids will lack the self awareness they need to succeed and prosper in our ever changing society.
PROBLEM SOLVING SKILLS
It is so necessary for our kids to avoid developing a helpless mentality. There’s nothing worse than watching your child whine that they can’t do something – especially when you know, if they just tried, they actually can do it! Kids who whine that they can’t become adults who never developed problem solving skills.
It is up to us as parents to help our kids develop and understand their inner resourcefulness. Kids, and adults for that matter, don’t need to know everything, but, it helps if they have a skill set that allows them to figure things out. And, if they can’t figure something out, we can guide them in discerning how and who to go to for help.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR CALLING, PURPOSE & MISSION
Understanding your higher purpose, your “calling” and what drives you helps set a foundation for everything you do.
Crafting not only a family mission statement but discussing what a ‘calling’ or ‘gift’ is with each child, will help them to start thinking about who they are and what their purpose, talent and gifts are at an early age.
HOW TO PRIORITIZE AND WHAT YOUR PRIORITIES ARE
We all have to learn how to prioritize the most important things each day, so we can take care of the most necessary (and often the toughest) tasks first. In the ER, doctors and nurses call it triage. It’s being able to assess a situation, size it up and figure out what needs to be tackled first.
Show your kids how to assess the situation and then do the big, bad, tough things first. Get them under control so you can move forward.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR VALUES
Similar to understanding your mission, understanding your values (and refusing to compromise on them) will give you guidance through any decision. If honesty is one of your values, then next time you’re put in a compromising position you’ll never be tempted to lie—because you know honesty is so important to you. If family communication and connectedness is a top value, then you’ll use that to guide your decisions that affect your kids.
Teach your children to write out their values and refer to them whenever they’re facing a tough choice. You should do this, as well. Your kids will learn this practice from your example.
HOW TO FOCUS
This is twofold: first, how to focus on a task when you’re facing a deadline or when you need to get something done; and second, how to focus your direction, your actions and your goals so you’re always in line with your values and holding true to your personal mission.
HOW TO HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR
Parents of tweens are aware of the time in their development when kids start to “get it.” Suddenly they can detect subtle tones in conversation, they learn to be sarcastic and yes, sometimes even funny.
Some adults still struggle with this, but finding the humor in any situation (and even the joy in the toughest ones) will get you far. Humor can help us deal with pain, stress and problems in life, and can help us find the silver lining. That is why this is so important for kids to learn, to help them through difficult situations as well.
Gone are the days of Emily Post and worrying about being judged for failing to use the proper fork at the dinner table (unless your family is VERY formal). Understanding basic etiquette, however, is still relevant and vital in today’s society. Politeness is about consideration for the feelings of others and making sure you don’t do something that offends or frankly, grosses people out (like chewing with your open – just gross).
Instilling self awareness skills in our kids may take some more time and energy while our kids are young. Ultimately, focusing on these skills now will bring your entire family the happiness and contentment you want for the future. For more information on how we model self awareness skills and other life skills in our home, check this out.
If you’ve enjoyed this series and you’re looking for more support in any of the areas covered, let me know. Send me an email with your questions and let me know what life skills you are focusing on with your kids! Don’t forget to grab our awesome FREE resources for teaching personal finance and cooking, cleaning, and laundry!
For the past few weeks, we’ve been chatting about the top life skills our kids need now more than ever. Our first two installments covered practical, tangible skills – money management, and cooking/cleaning.
The next two weeks, we’ll be moving into areas that are a little bit more difficult to measure, but still oh-so-important. Sometimes, if we don’t see dishes left on the table, dirty bathrooms, or low bank statements – it can be easy to ignore a problematic behavior. That doesn’t mean a problem doesn’t exist.
This week, we’ll discuss the important role positive relationship skills play in our kid’s lives as they move into adulthood.
We are all social beings and as such, we interact with others regularly. It may be tempting to crawl under blankets and binge watch Hulu all day, but that’s not always an option. Instead, we need to nurture our relationships with our partners, children, friends, other parents, and coworkers. Sometimes, these interactions are easy, but sometimes they are complicated and difficult.
We can set our children up for future relationship success by beginning the process of cultivating positive relationship skills, now. Without positive relationship skills, our children will grow into adults who aren’t able to communicate clearly, open up, or handle tough situations.
LISTENING & COMMUNICATION IN A PARTNERSHIP
Communication in a marriage or relationship is very different than general communication skills. It’s about listening, being selfless and empathetic and tackling the difficult conversations without prejudice. Words matter. They can be hurtful or beautiful. They can bring us closer to each other or they can rip us apart.
Teaching our children to think before they speak and listen more than they talk are communication tools that will serve them throughout their lives and in all of their close relationships.
VALUING & EXPRESSING RESPECT
At the heart of every successful marriage, there’s mutual respect.
Let’s face it, nobody’s marriage is perfect, but respecting our spouse and our differences can help your marriage become stronger and happier. Kids learn from what we do, not what we say. Learning to view our partners through the lens of another human being with feelings, desires and wants that may not always match your own, is an important skill for us to develop.
If your children are witnessing a strong and healthy marriage on a daily basis, that is the type of relationship they will model when the time comes.
VALUING & EXPRESSING LOVE
Love is about buying gifts and spoiling your children and spouse, right?
Love is about quality time, affection, expression and understanding. We all know what Hollywood and Hallmark say love is, but we also know love is about so much more. To love and to be loved is truly a life skill and something that takes work.
We need to teach our kids that love isn’t always about the chocolate, perfect IG selfies and romantic getaways. It’s about all of the ‘hard stuff’ that makes a marriage last.
HOW TO ACCEPT COMPLIMENTS & CRITICISM
Accepting both compliments and constructive criticism isn’t easy! Oftentimes we fail to accept compliments with grace or downplay them and get embarrassed.
Yet, we’re often crushed by criticisms (even if they’re valid) taking them personally and to heart.
Learning to simply say, “thank you” when you get a compliment and learning to view criticism as feedback (assess it, then apply it or throw it away) can serve our kids well.
Today’s moms have likely heard all the buzz about social-emotional learning. If you’re in the business world, I’m sure you’ve read a lot about how social and emotional intelligence are important in the workplace.
Why is this? Well, because people are finding that being emotionally intelligent can be just as important as understanding the nuances of engineering or physics.
As the human population grows and we become more global in our interactions, being sensitive to others, understanding emotions and learning to harness them in a positive way can be a make-or-break life skill. Fortunately, we can start teaching our kids emotional intelligence now so they will have this skill throughout their life.
Instilling positive relationship skills in your kids may take some more time and energy while our kids are young. Ultimately, focusing on these skills now will bring your entire family the happiness and contentment you want for the future. For more information on how we model positive relationship skills and other life skills for your kids, check this out.
Last week, I told you about my business peer who had sent her daughter off to college. Within a few weeks, she’d heard from her daughter who had thanked her for teaching her life skills like how to cook, clean, and do laundry.
My kids aren’t that old yet, but I know if I receive that call one day, I’ll be beaming! As moms, isn’t that what we all hope for – well prepared kids who “get it”? We all want our kids to learn how to be well prepared adults and to really understand why we chose to teach them those particular things.
This conversation sparked an idea for a series of blog posts on the top life skills kids are needing to learn now more than ever. We kicked off the series last week with personal finance management. This week, for part two, we’ll be chatting about cooking and cleaning.
HOW TO COOK
Many people are astonished by the lack of cooking skills among today’s young generation. While this is the era of ready-made meals and fast food, you shouldn’t consider the ability to cook as just a survival skill. The enjoyment of knowing how to cook is priceless. When done properly, home-cooked food has a beneficial effect on your health and the health of your wallet.
Even if it’s just macaroni and cheese, the ability to cook a meal and eat it is a necessary life skill—it’ll save them lots of money when their favorite takeout restaurant is closed for a holiday or it can be a feather in their cap when they are able to host a party and cook for a group of co-workers for the evening.
Starting the process of getting your kids comfortable in the kitchen can begin at an early age, too. It’s easy and fun to teach very small kids about baking. There are even creative ways to mix in simple math activities while measuring out ingredients. As they get older and have more attention and understanding of kitchen safety, you can move on to teaching them more difficult cooking techniques like sauteing, roasting, and grilling.
Knowing how to cook their own meals will save our kids money, calories, time, and could even impress their future partner down the line.
HOW TO CLEAN
From making our beds to laundry basics, our kids all need to learn basic housekeeping skills. For our kids, keeping a tidy house is a life skill that ensures the health of their own future family, keeps them organized and able to find what they need, and ultimately saves them money so they can keep living the ‘good life’.
It’s also proven that organization in the home help kids think more clearly in school. Organizing a home is more than just straightening up. It involves actual cleaning, organizing, and developing systems and routines to remain clean and organized.
You can begin this process by getting kids involved in your household chore systems. We do a lot with our kids around involving them in chores. They learn life skills and earn money in the process. It’s a win-win!
How to do Laundry
We’ve written quite a bit about training your kids to do their own laundry as well as easy laundry hacks, so I’m sure you can tell that this life skill was a big one for us. Getting my kids to do their own laundry has been a huge time saver for us!
We recommend introducing laundry to your kids in phases and you can find the entire process, here. Of course, it can be much quicker (and less frustrating) to simply do it yourself. But, that phone call from your kids at college thanking you for teaching them to do this will be so, so worth it!
It’s clear that our kids need life skills now more than ever. As their parents, it is our job to teach them. Teaching kids how to cook and clean and handle their laundry can be some of the most basic but necessary skills. Additionally, you can start with these skills when they’re quite young and make them fun! Come back next week for part three where we’ll be chatting about relationship skills.
In the meantime, you can grab our completely FREE Family Chore and Money System Action Guide, here. You can also hop over to Facebook and watch me walk through how to use it, here. If you’d like even more support, let’s chat about 1:1 coaching and I’ll help you set up a systems and routines that will work for your unique family.⠀
Deciding whether or not to implement a chore system in your home can be tricky. There are many factors that may weigh on your decision as to if it is the right time for your family to get started with a chore system. Some things to consider are your kids ages, physical abilities, cognitive abilities, and ability to adjust to new routines.
In our home, for our kids, we are in favor of establishing chore systems early. This is because of the multitude of positive values having a chore system has taught our children. Four particular values stand out to us as the most important.
Here are the top 4 values your kids will learn when you begin to implement a chore system in your home:
Teaching kids about responsibility can be a little tricky because it’s multifaceted. There are multiple ways to approach responsibility – being responsible, acting responsibly, having responsibilities, and taking responsibility. The common thread is that they all relate to doing what is expected of us.
Responsibility is an important trait to instill in our children because it opens their eyes to expectations. When children take on new responsibilities, it establishes rules, habits, and routines that form the basis for all future interactions. Assigning your child chores gives them something they can be responsible for and take ownership of.
Establishing the value of responsibility leads to trust and freedom within your parent-child relationship. It also leads right into accountability, as this is what your child will need to acknowledge if they are not responsible, acting responsibly, or taking care of their responsibilities.
Once your kids understand responsibility, it becomes easier for them to grasp the concept of accountability, too. When your child takes responsibility for their actions, their items, or their mistakes – the idea of accountability grows clear. Accountability does not need to have a negative connotation. Accountability is owning up to something you’ve done wrong or failed to do and accepting the consequences.
For kids, accountability is all about taking ownership of and following through with their responsibilities. The follow through is the sweet spot where your kids will see the results of their hard work and begin to feel pride in what they are doing.
Our goal in establishing chore systems is to help our kids understand that being accountable for their actions and responsibilities means they are holding themselves to a high standard
Habits and Routines
Developing habits and routines are an integral part of running any happy household. Kids thrive on routines. When kids develop positive habits and routines, they know what to expect, feel secure and supported, and release anxiety.
There’s also positive benefits for the parents. For you, it will look like less nagging and reminding, you’ll be less stressed, and you’ll have more time together as a family.
Habits and routines in a home teach kids how to self-manage, work together as a family, and create a home environment that is full of positivity. Chore systems easily become a part of your family routine and habits. Kids know and expect they will be handling their assigned tasks and they welcome the comfort of this consistency.
Our ultimate goal as parents is to set our kids up to be successful adults. Of course, we want to keep them safe – but we also want them to grow into independent, healthy, and happy adults. As a parent, there is a delicate balance between guiding our kids and letting them care for themselves, when the time comes.
When you establish chore systems in your home, you will watch your children become more independent right in front of your eyes. As they take responsibility for their chores, accept accountability, and develop their routines – they will begin to need your support and guidance around these particular chores less and less.
When children develop independence, they become equipped with necessary life skills, self sufficient, empowered, and confident. As parents, isn’t that what we all want for our children?
Are you ready to implement a family chore system in your home but you just don’t know how to get started or get yourself organized? We’ve got you covered! Grab our totally FREE Family Chore and Money System Action Guide and we will walk you through the step-by-step process of designing, implementing, and sticking to a plan that works for your family.
It can be very difficult at times to pull your child away from that special video game that they love so much, and this is why it’s so important to prepare your children for the ‘online gaming world.’ A recent study from the Pew Research Center indicates that 59 percent of girls and 84 percent of boys ages 13-17 regularly play video games. Many of these games are played online and may involve multiple players.
In addition to safety and privacy concerns, parents must ensure that their child’s gaming activities do not become an addiction. When a gaming addiction develops, children may become detached from reality, resulting in negative consequences regarding their ability to socialize and regulate their emotions. In extreme cases, parents may need to look to a professional for help. However, there are steps you can take to help prevent this.
Setting healthy boundaries for your kids can help to guard against extreme gaming behavior. For example, ensure that children have their homework finished before allowing them to engage in gaming. Also, limit gaming sessions to a set time period of time. When finished playing video games, children should move on to other activities, engaging in active movement and social interaction with others.
Parents should also know the ratings on games, talk to their children about how they feel when they play, and even play these games along with their children to experience them first-hand. I know I do this quite often with my children, so I can see the kind of activity that is taking place within the game.
Here are some helpful talking points to help start the conversation with your child about video games and online gaming:
1. Can you show me your favorite game?
It is a good idea to get to know the games yourself and sit down with your child to let them show you how the game is played. Talk to your child about what they can do in the game they’re playing. What is the overall objective of the game? What do they like most about playing it? Is there anything about the game that they don’t like?
2. Can you play against other kids?
Some games have optional multi-player modes where your child can play with and against others. Make sure you’re clear on whether you are happy for your child to play with others. If you are, ask them who they are playing with. Establish rules around this that you can both agree on. Most games have a rating you can check to see if they are age-appropriate.
3. How much time should you spend playing?
It makes life a lot easier if you bring this subject up early on; it can be tricky to change well-established practices. Talk about why it’s important to have limits. It’s a good opportunity to talk about the importance of being active, being outdoors, and spending time in the company of other children, and striking that suitable balance is key.
Remember, it can be hard to enforce restrictions. It can also be difficult to accurately track the amount of time they are spending playing the game. Some devices allow you to use parental controls to strictly enforce daily or weekly limits. In many cases, the device simply switches off once the allocated time has been exceeded. While this is handy; it can be very frustrating for a child who is just about to reach a landmark in the game after a great deal of effort. We recommend not relying exclusively on parental controls, but use them to support your usual parenting approaches.
4. Can you chat with the other kids you are playing?
Many games allow players to chat with each other. Be sure to agree on rules around this, and ask your child about who they think it is okay to talk to online. Discuss your expectations around the type of language they should not use and how they treat others. Be very clear on the consequences of using bad language, being disrespectful, or not following the other agreed rules. The threat of withdrawing access to the game can be a good deterrent to bad behavior.
Check if the game gives the option of disabling chat and if there is a safe chat mode. Some games allow limited forms of chatting where gamers can communicate with each other by selecting from a menu of phrases.
5. What sort of information is NOT okay to share when gaming?
Explain to them the importance of not giving away any personal information online. In the case of online gaming, it is a good idea not to use real names for game profiles and not to share passwords with friends.
6. What would you do if something inappropriate happens when you are playing a game online?
It’s important that your child is familiar with safety settings, privacy and reporting tools. It is equally important that your child understands they can talk to you if they experience anything inappropriate online. This is also a good opportunity to encourage your child to play fairly and treat other gamers with respect.
Whether we like it or not, the online gaming world is here to stay so it’s best to be proactive and responsible when navigating this with your children. As much as we may think some of the games in this ‘virtual world’ are disturbing or are indoctrinating our children with bad behavior, these games are here to stay. We have to teach our children how to play and use these games responsibly.
After all, I can still remember when Nintendo & Atari were the ‘new gaming devices.’ There was a time when people thought a game called ‘Donkey Kong’ was violent because they hit each other. Nowadays kids are seeing things in these newer games that are a lot more disturbing than that, and in ten years those same people will be saying the same thing about the games of today.
Ultimately, the responsibility lies with us as parents. We have to teach our kids right from wrong, so when they are out in the ‘real world’ they will know the difference.
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When you were growing up and you did something wrong, did you feel like you could go to your parents and fess up? Or did you end up hiding your misdeeds from them?
It was always the latter for me because I was really “scared” of my dad. That’s not to say that I was always up to no good, but like any kid, I had my fair share of doing something I knew I shouldn’t.
But part of growing up and becoming a parent is trying to do things differently than when you were a kid. That’s why I would never want my kids to feel like they couldn’t come to me for any reason. That’s especially true if they really got themselves into trouble.
We all believe that open communication is key, right?
As parents, we talk about that all the time, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. Most people claim to want to be able to talk openly, but they just don’t know how. That’s where this “Get Out of Jail Free” card comes into play.
A Communication System For the Family is Born
So, I came across this idea in a Child Behavior class I was taking for my nursing continuing education requirements and I thought it was a really good idea to implement with my own kids.
I had my daughter make up a bunch of “Get Out of Jail Free Cards” and put them into a jar. The instructions for this were that if they did something wrong, they could always grab a card to give to us. Then they could tell us what they did without “getting into trouble.”
Opening Communication Does Not Mean Forgive and Forget
Before you start thinking we’re just letting our kids get away with murder, there are a few things you should know about this system. The idea is not that we allow them to get away with things, but that they get used to being able to open up to us for anything.
It doesn’t mean we will allow them to abuse the system. If they’re repeating the same offense multiple times, then we will have to resort to plan B, which will probably be traditional disciplinary measures.
If we begin this communication process now when they do something minor, then the lines of communication will be open when they get older and get themselves into trouble that can be much greater.
This Method Has Been Used Before
This is actually very similar to something that started a few years ago with high school proms. Students agreed to let their parents know if they had been drinking so they could get a ride home. The idea wasn’t to condone student drinking. It was to prevent drunk driving. But the kids knew they wouldn’t be yelled at or “in trouble” if they called mom and dad to help them.
How The Cards Are Working in Our Home
So now, when we get a card, our kids have to tell us what happened, and the kids aren’t busted for it. Then we can discuss their actions and we talk through what they could have done instead. And we leave it at that. This way, our kids feel comfortable talking to us without worrying about getting in trouble and we can hope that this will continue on into their teen years.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected!
Bumps, bruises and owies – oh my! Parenthood is never boring. Be prepared with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind. Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.