Teaching your kids to be independent from a young age is important because it helps to build their confidence and give them assurance in their own self. And as a parent, you would not want to catapult your kids into the world of adulthood without preparing them with all the necessary life skills, right? If you are not too sure where to start, here we have 5 essential life skills that we believe you should equip your child with.
Doing the laundry
To the little ones, whatever we do at home looks fun. While that lasts, take this opportunity to teach them how to help with the laundry. Explain to them why do we need to get the clothes to be washed and show them the steps to do it. If your washing machine is a top-loader, get them a step stool so they can help you put the laundry into the machine, play a sorting game to teach them how to separate white and coloured laundry, get them to guess the smell of the detergent (whether is lavender, vanilla or rose) and then show them where to put it into.
Once they are a bit bigger and showing a basic understanding of this particular life skill, you can move to demonstrating them how to choose the setting, how to read the label of the clothing, and how to get the machine to work. You would actually be surprised to know how many teens have never done their laundry until they leave home.
Preparing a simple meal
Although it would be nice if the kids can turn into one of those MasterChef Junior and cook you fancy meals, the main aim of getting your children into the kitchen is for them to be able to feed themselves when necessary. You’d probably still need to do most of the cooking part, but at least if for some reason you’re not home, at least you know that your child would not be starving.
But before introducing them to the actual cooking, let them start with cutting using a dull knife, choose the toppings of your pizza, or even help you to decorate a cake! As you let your children help you with cooking or meal prepping, you can also expose them to the ingredients and explain to them what are their health benefits. This way, your children will have a higher tendency to eat more healthily
For those who are around 6 to 8 years old, you can start introducing them to kitchen appliances like toasters and microwave and how to safely use them to give your kids more options because let’s be real, sandwiches and cereal can be boring. However, until you are confident that they can handle these appliances on their own, never leave them unsupervised.
First aid skills
While you can expect schools to cover first aid lessons, there is nothing wrong with teaching first aid skills in advance, or reinforcing what they have learnt at school, at home. After all, many studies had found that repetition help in memorisation and boosting confidence. So, should your child or anyone around them is in need of help, you can rely on little ones to lend a hand.
You can start by showing them the first aid kit contents and explain to them how it can be used to treat their boo-boos, step-by-step. From putting pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding, to covering it with a plaster. Then, to prepare for cases of emergency, parents should also teach children how to call the 999 and train them how they should explain to the operator about their whereabouts. If they can figure out to play games on mobiles and tablets quickly, you can trust them to get this nailed (with practice, of course).
The value of money
Do you know that 67% of Malaysians earning between RM5,000 to RM10,000 and 31% of those earning above RM10,000 a month save less than RM 1,000 monthly? That’s terrifying!
Many people do not realise this but teaching kids how to be financially literate is very crucial in ensuring that they do not fall into the pit of debts when they grow up. As a starting point, get them a piggy bank where they can save their extra allowance money. Demonstrate how to track their spending by writing down what they buy in a notebook or a spending sheet, teach them about comparison shopping by bringing them to stores and looking at the cheapest items, and if there is something that your child wants, you can also get them to do some household chores for extra pocket money. This teaches them to appreciate money more, simultaneously motivating them to work hard for what they want.
You can also get your child enrolled in financial literacy class like the one in Edu Talent, or an online programme like The Mint if you want to. For the bigger kids and teens, it’s best if you can sit down and explain to them concepts like delay gratification, the importance of budgeting and how using check or credit card means that they are basically using the bank’s money (not yours), so they’ll have to pay it back.
Talking to strangers
Even when we were small, we were instilled of this blanket rule of “Do not talk to strangers.” While it is understandable that our parents did that for safety reasons, it is not wise to make this generalisation for the basic reason that you would not want your kids to be scared of all the strangers that they encounter. Having the self-esteem to talk to strangers will greatly help in our kids’ adult life, thus, ‘fear-mongering’ is certainly not something advisable.
Rather than telling them that ‘these bad people will kidnap you so you must not talk to them’, we should start training them on how to distinguish whether they should beware of the person they are talking to or not. This can be done by giving them examples of specific scenarios and role-playing.
Remind children that it is fine to interact with people whom they do not know, nevertheless, they should maintain a certain distance with the person, and make sure to not take anything that the person offers if they are alone. Children should also be taught on what they should do if they ever get separated from you. As such, you can tell them to look for an adult with another kid, or perhaps get into the nearest store and ask for help from its employee. Usually, a store will be equipped with a CCTV, hence it is safer for your child.
There are actually a lot more life skills that you can start teaching your children, such as how to take care of their personal hygiene, ways to navigate around and how to swim. Importantly, in teaching your children these skills, you should always remember to not impose it onto them. Make it the learning process fun, that way, they’ll remember what was taught to them better.