Teaching children academic subjects is all well and good, but if they don’t have the right life skills, they will fail to thrive. Fortunately, as a parent, there’s a lot that you can do to help them. Incorporating various life skill “lessons” into your daily routine can have a big effect over time. Just little things, like practicing communication skills, can change your child’s future for the better.
In the world of work and adult relationships, soft skills tend to matter more than technical skills. Yes – you need to know what you’re doing. But it’s how you interact with other people that really matters. Getting along with them is the most important predictor of future success.
So, with that said, which life skills do kids actually need?
Perhaps the biggest thing that kids need to master is self-directed learning. The more they have the capacity to acquire knowledge by themselves, the more successful they are likely to be.
As a parent, your job is to encourage a love of learning. You can’t force it. Instead, you have to make it more appealing. For instance, allowing your child to engage in open-ended play from a young age increases their desire for self-directed exploration long-term.
You can also do things like model curiosity and creativity for them. If you are the type of person who loves exploring a topic, they are more likely to become somebody like that too.
Some children embrace challenges with both arms while others shy away. Unfortunately, those that don’t test themselves are unlikely to develop as human beings.
Loving challenges isn’t something that you can teach. Instead, it’s something that the child will usually choose to take on themselves.
For instance, when your child is ready to cycle, buy them a bike. However, don’t tell them to use it. Instead, model the behavior you want them to display by riding your bike as well.
Communicating With People
Communicating with people clearly and concisely is one of the most important social skills for kids. Very few people can do it, leading to confusion.
Developing these skills often takes a lot of time – perhaps more than five years – but they will eventually arrive. Young child will then be able to navigate social interactions more effectively, again increasing their status among their peers
When you ask employers what they want most from new hires, they immediately say “critical thinking skills.” But why is this? Well, it turns out that modern jobs rarely require people to simply go through the motions. They need individuals who can think for themselves and come up with their own ideas.
Make sure that you leave your child alone to play so that they can explore the world on their own terms. Being more independent fosters more critical thinking skills. Get them to take on roleplaying options, such as being a superhero, and get them to test ideas and formulate hypotheses.
Once you do this, you are essentially giving them the basic tools of the scientific method. They become like miniature scientists, testing as much as they can and disallowing anything that clearly opposes the evidence of their senses.
The ability to delay gratification is one of the most famous signs that a person is destined for success. People who can put off pleasure until the future are often much more likely to lead good lives than individuals who can’t. That’s because they can say “no” to things that are bad for them.
Parents can help their kids develop their ability to delay gratification by talking to them about the consequences of their actions. Many kids find it helpful to adopt an “if … then” model in their minds. So for instance, “if I do my homework now, then I will do better on my exam tests at the end of the year. Or “if I eat this cheesecake now, then I will have to improve my diet later.”
Delaying gratification is becoming more challenging for kids because of our distraction-filled world. If you have a home full of gadgets, make sure that you set aside at least one quiet area where they can go to study.
Powers Of Empathy
A basic sense of empathy arrives for most children after they are around 18 months of age. At this stage, they begin to differentiate between themselves and the people around them.
You can actually accelerate this process by getting them to talk from the perspectives of other people. The more they can put themselves in other people’s shoes, the more naturally they will understand how others feel.