Your child, this small-sized complex person is growing so quickly and every day he is discovering and learning new things. He is learning through life, just like you. But now that you are an adult, you might be thinking that you wish you learned certain skills earlier. They could have played an important role in your upbringing and have a vital role in some life situations. This is why certain life skills should be learned early in a person’s life. This is what every kid by the age of 10 should have learned:
1. Being careful and reacting to emergency situations
Until around the age of 7, kids only pay attention to what interests them. If they see a squirrel on the other side of the road, they will spontaneously run to the other side without caring if any car is passing through or not. This example emphasizes how important is to learn kids to be careful around sharp objects, poisonous substances, unsafe roads, electrical equipment, etc. Every kid by the age of 10 should be well informed on the major health risks, how to avoid them and how to react in case of danger. Teach your child the essential first aid steps. You can do this by showing them a first aid kit and its contents. Then, improvise situations, in form of a role-play and illustrate how to use all the tools. Make sure they know by heart all the emergency numbers so that they can ask for help when needed. Also, be mindful to not simply deny them junk food but to always back up with arguments, and educate them as to what would happen to their health if they continuously feed like that.
2. Personal space and How to interact with people.
We love kissing and cuddling with our little ones, but we should practice a level of carefulness towards our kids. We should always ask them for consent: can I kiss your hand? Since a very young age. They should grow knowing that they have rights over their body and they are not around for our pleasure. Teach your kids boundaries and how certain body areas are very private, and nobody should be interacting with them. In this way, when someone kisses or touches them without their consent they will know there is something wrong and be much more inclined to tell you about it. In a separate article, we will talk more in deep about how to be cautious and keep away child molesters.
And what about their contact with stranger people? Teach them to be polite and kindly respond to people who say hello. Explain that it is ok to respond to neighbors when they salute, but that they shouldn’t feel obliged to have small talks with them, especially when they are not of the same age. Explain some ground rules and then observe your kid’s behavior, when you are a few steps away. You could try this when you go shopping with your kids. From a safe distance, you can check how do they follow your instructions and then talk to them about it if there is something they could have done better.
3. Basic survival skills and self-defense
They should know how to clean themselves, the surroundings and prepare simple meals. Make sure they can distinguish a rotten food.
Next, nature survival skills. What if a family picnic turns into a day lost in the mountains? Wouldn’t it be good for your kid to be able to calculate their position through the correct mapping of the sky? Or simply follow paths where the soil is humid, because that’s the right direction to find some water? Or how to draw the SOS letters in the sand? And so many more simple tactics that one day could save their life? Scout camps are an excellent choice, but family outings in nature are also e perfect occasion to really learn and try survival skills that could result to be very helpful one day.
Also, engaging your kid in self-defense courses is a very good opportunity to teach your kids independence and self-confidence. Some schools include such programs in their yearly plans but even if they do not, don’t hesitate to send them for classes outside.
4. How to locate where they are and how to find the path to home
Once I have seen a show in Japan, where hidden cameras followed kids going to school completely alone since the age of 3. My heart, felt like it was cracking every moment they tried to cross the road full of cars, or take the train, or go to the grocery store… I was not able to watch the full episode, my legs were shaking… I am well conscious that we are not at the same levels of safety, but it is a reminder that we should however teach our kids how to come safe home if the situation arises. Encourage your kids to memorize how to go to school and how to get back. Travel with them by letting them lead the way. Also remember to always leave on him some contact numbers if he gets lost, written ones as he might find himself without a phone or battery. Try to be predictive and even simulate a situation where you live him alone to find the path(possibly observing without him knowing). Also, teach him to read maps and GPS.
5. How to take care of a living thing
Caring for a fish for example, and keeping it alive, helps kids learn genuine empathy. And this is such an important life skill. Even in a small house, there is a place for small pets like a turtle, a fish, a hamster, a bird, or simply a plant. Also, teach your kid to have respect for other creatures’ lives. Do not let him pick flowers just because so he pleases or steps on ants just because they look weird to him. Teach to explore without harming and be environmentally-friendly.
6. How to swim
As soon as your kid hits 4 years old, it is the right time to start some swimming lessons. Even though swimming lessons have experienced a boom for kids since their birth, literally, in fact, pediatricians do not suggest so. This is because parents develop a fake sense of safety thinking that their kids know how to swim, when in fact kids under 4 are not good at responding to alerts and emergency situations. Parents feel safer, when in fact these kids are not safer. So wait until 4, and then go for it.
7. How to ride a bike
Riding a bike is one of the best things a kid can do. It keeps them physically fit, improves their coordination and balance, and improves mental focus. It is also a great environmentally-friendly way to go around. Take teaching to bike very seriously. Not just help them keep equilibrium and bike, but also learn to read all traffic signs. In Germany, interestingly, there is a riding test for kids, so that they get a biking license and everyone can ride around safely. Tip: since the very beginning, avoid using training wheels as it will slow down the learning process.
8. Time management
First, you should be offering them a routine. If you have some timings as to when do wake up, when do we eat and when do we sleep, they will naturally separate their day in these chunks. Encourage them to keep a planner and keep notes about their plans, to-do lists about their homework, savings, extra-curricular activities, etc. They will gradually develop a sense of measure as related to each activity.
9. Decision-making skills
Encourage the development of decision-making skills. The lives of our generation are so filled with endless opportunities. And our kids will be facing these and even more challenges. Therefore it is important to equip them with this skill. From a very young age offer them options: are we going to wear this or this(start with two options). With time, increase options, but also demand from him/her to give you reasons on why he chooses to do so. This is how to teach him to weigh the advantages and disadvantages before they make their decision! As an example, when I take my daughter to the toy store she is of course amazed and overwhelmed, and would like to put half of the shop on the chart. But instead, I explain to her that we are going to go through the shop where she should pick up three favorite toys and keep notes. She also can keep notes on why she likes each of them. We leave the shop without buying anything(avoiding instant gratification). Then when we go home I ask her to weigh the reasons she likes and wants each of the toys. In this way, she can reason more clearly as there are no special effects toys display and other stimulants. Then I discuss with her, which one should we choose for her to have. I let her have the last say. Then either I order it online or I go and buy it alone. I promise you, it is an excellent tactic to teach them self-restraint, logic, reasoning, decision making.
10. And last but not least, money management
You as a parent have many responsibilities (as you may go more in deep HERE), but one responsibility you do not have, is that of buying your kid everything he/she wants. Some of us remember the things we couldn’t have in our childhood and try to give our kids just that. Some parents go even further with the agenda of channeling them into the careers we couldn’t succeed for ourselves. But when it comes to money you should be very careful to teach them how money is made and how they should spend them. Otherwise, they will be oblivious of your efforts as a parent, the efforts they are expected to put in order to make money, and have major problems with money management as adults. Of course, you are going to buy them toys, but if they seem to prefer the expensive ones, ask them to put in some money from their pocket. When you go to the grocery store, at the counter, give him the money and let him pay, and make sure he has the correct exchange. Some parents practice and advise giving kids a weekly or monthly allowance for their own expenses. But I am not very fond of this method. What expenses are we talking about? You do’ provide shelter, food, clothing, toys, transport, birthday parties, gifts, school materials,…right?
Even if you do, give a weekly allowance, make sure it is modest. If your kid has needs that exceed his budget then you should teach him the value of work. Offer him monetary incentives if he performs certain tasks. Or if you can, why not hire them? For example, a 9 years old girl, is able to type on a computer. Give her some handwriting notes, ask her to transfer them to the computer, and reward her. She could make a list of groceries you have in the kitchen so that you both can evaluate what do you need to buy. Small tasks, monetary incentives, and money she will spend more wisely since she worked for it. Want to go the extra mile? Teach her/him how to save money through a saving box.
Is there more? Of course, there is. But these are pretty much the basics.
Now go, and be a perfect mom! 🙂