Updated: Aug 10, 2021
Working in child care and the public school system, I've been exposed to so many different types of families. One thing that has remained the same through each of the many demographics is that education matters.
And I agree, but a well rounded education matters most. Parents want their kids to read first, to write first, to be the smartest and most outspoken in the class. At that point in time it was rare that parents were balanced and aware of how necessary it was for their child to be emotionally intelligent.
Our generation is changing that.
I have known many adults who were academically gifted but now live a life contrary to what everyone, including themselves, believed they would be living one day. Though life happens and so many things occur that are out of our control, many things still are. Consistently losing jobs, inability to maintain relationships with friends and family, and neglecting to accomplish goals are signs of a person lacking life skills.
When you are constantly told that all you need to focus on is school, it sets you up for failure. You need to learn to be social, to work as team, to be accountable, and be self-motivated.
When I had Kaci my inbox was full of messages from well meaning mothers and fathers, attempting to figure out how they could improve their toddler's speech. Asking how I taught "xyz" to her so they could get their child "up to speed". My response is always that if you are having fun, they will learn. If you ever have real concerns, please speak to your child's pediatrician and/or search for speech therapists in your area. At this age we should be more concerned with emotional intelligence.
Think of that boss. That coworker. That kid in your class. You know the ones that never admit when they are wrong. The ones that are wrong AND loud. The ones that invade your personal space. The ones that gaslight you consistently. That one that is overbearing and rude but tells you that you are too sensitive. Yea. That person. They may or may not be great at their job but they have the same position and credentials as you. How does this happen? How is it that you have a PhD but lack self awareness? The answer is simple.
"Self awareness has to be taught. "
Academics are important. But so is shaping a child to be aware. So outside of their ABCs and 123s, here are 7 essential life skills your child will thank you for one day.
Honoring self means we eat, drink, and bathe. We take care of bodies and our mind. We don't allow people to physically, mentally, or emotionally bring harm to us repeatedly. We learn how to stand in our power and say yes when we want to and can, and no when we need to also. Learning to set boundaries early is an integral part of having relationships (not just romantic ones). Allow your children to set boundaries with you to practice setting boundaries with others.
Accountability we own up to our mistakes and poor choices, no matter the consequences. If we do not want to adhere to the consequences then we need to adhere to the boundary that was set beforehand. We are people of our word, if we say we are going to do something we need to see it through unless we can not. To be accountable is to also be dependable. Model this by apologizing and being open and honest with your children about your mistakes. Show them how you will improve going forward and stick to it.
Balancing hard work and rest are a part of honoring ourselves, but this needed a feature of their own. Working a job or i career of choice, spending years in school, raising children, getting married, just existing anywhere in the world is work. Even if you enjoy all of it, it is work. It is wear and tear on your mind, body, and soul. Finding time to withdraw, hear your thoughts or finally turn your thoughts off is necessary.
Communication is an essential skill for life and is needed for each and every life skill. Being articulate isn't the end of communication. Being able to state your needs isn't the end of communication. Being able to hear AND accept what people are saying is just as important if not more. To help your child build this skill, first, say what you have to say, give reason for your choices and stick to them. Also allow space for your child to say how they feel without punishment. Honor their feelings and choices. Even if you can not oblige their wishes, you can honor them and help them to critically think of another solution.
Critical thinking is important as we will all be faced with many challenges in life. "I have a science project due and I can't do what I want, what else can I do?" "I'm having trouble getting hired, what are some legal alternatives to making money until I do?" Being able to make hard decisions as an adult fluidly begins as a child. You can begin doing this by providing your child with choices as often as possible. Asking questions like "The last time you ate this, it hurt your belly. Do you think it's the best choice to eat this again?" or "It's going to be cold where we are going, do you think it's better to wear a long sleeve shirt or a tank top?" For smaller children, just getting their attention to make any choice at all can be a hassle. Make it a practice. While holding both cartons or jugs, ask "do you want juice or milk?" While holding packages, ask "do you want crackers or muffins for snack?"
Resilience can be difficult to teach because we don't always know when we are stopping them from being resilient or honoring their mental health. Consider how they felt when they began an activity. Are they trying for the first time? Have they been doing this for awhile and no longer enjoy it? Taking a fall, experiencing a challenge, temporary embarrassments will happen. That doesn't mean you have to quit. Knowing how to keep going when the going gets tough is soooo necessary in life. Teach them how to assess how this activity is impacting their entire life to know whether or not to quit. For the younger ones, remember to take breaks and restart the activity. As they age you can have conversations about the times you obtained a goal because you didn't give up!
Initiative is something most of us are actually born with. What happens to it overtime, is that it gets hampered by the response to what we are taking initiative on. You remember how you always tried to make yourself something to eat, or drink, or get dressed, or do your hair, or play on your own but it was the 'wrong' thing or way to do it? Our parents, guardians, and teachers (unintentionally) gave us pause. This taught us to not trust our selves and our decision making. So when you see your child going for the cup on the counter, don't be so quick to run and stop them. Let them try it, and if it spills, teach them how to clean it up and how to do it on their own next time. When you see them drawing on their legs with marker, help them clean their self off and give them a piece of paper to enforce that we draw on paper. Encourage their initiative.
If you need help implementing these life skills in your home naturally click here and let's get started! Also, make sure you're following me on Instagram for quick tips for your toddlers and schoolagers :-)