There are things that our children should have so they can lead a rich and fulfilling life. Sure, if we wanted them just to survive, to just get by, they could do so. But that’s not living. We want our children to go out and have experiences that turn them into better people.
While a well-rounded education is important, these 13 things below are also necessary. You might think they are common knowledge or not even a big deal, but it would surprise you how many kids are growing up to become “adults” still dependent on their parents, teachers, and co-workers, amongst others.
Our children aren’t going to turn 18 and magically turn into responsible, capable adults. We need to do our best to equip our children with the knowledge and skills they need to go out into the real world and have a successful, rewarding life. It’s best to start teaching them these things when they are young. That way, they grow up with this knowledge and can better understand the importance of it.
In addition to a sound education, things your child needs include a basic knowledge and understanding of:
Money is extremely important. Teach your children how to budget, how to save and how respect things that you bought for them or they bought for themselves. They need to know that swiping a card means money is being transferred. Teach them how to be responsible with credit cards and how to stay out of debt.
Does your 3-year-old really need to be able to explain to you the reasoning and history behind a checks and balance system? No. Could a 3-year-old see a picture of the U.S. President and be able to identify him? Of course. They might not be mature enough to understand what it means to be president of a country, but they can know who their leaders are.
Show your children the importance of being active in your community politics by participating yourself. Talk to them about when you go and vote. Tell them who you voted for and why. Discuss these things with them and prepare them to take an active role in the community themselves.
This isn’t to say that they should be able to do a full engine overhaul. But they should know how to check and top off all their fluids, how to check their oil, how long they can go between oil changes and how to change it, how to change a flat tire, how to replace windshield wipers, etc. These are all simple things that if you are going to own and drive a car, you should know how to do. A car is an investment. You need to know how to take care of it.
Nutrition and Health
Obesity is on the rise in America, especially in children. This is one of the saddest things in my opinion. Children are losing out on their childhood because of health issues that could have been prevented. Parents need to take responsibility for their children’s health. They are the ones in charge of what their children eat. If a young child is obese, that is on the parents’ head. But later on, as that child grows up and becomes an adult, they won’t have the knowledge they need to be healthy. They risk having heart problems, diabetes, asthma, and other health issues. There are so many health risks out there that could easily be prevented with a knowledge of nutrition.
Teach your children to choose an apple over a candy bar. People always say that it’s too expensive to eat healthy. So, instead of buying the bag of oranges, they get a bag of chips. Guess what? They’re about the same price. Go the healthier way: buy the carrots instead of the cookies. Buy the granola instead of the sugar cereal. Your kids might complain at first that there’s nothing to eat, but if they want a snack bad enough, they’ll take the carrot. Soon, they won’t hesitate to eat fruits and veggies.
You never know when something bad will happen, whether it’s as small as a scraped knee or as big as a car accident. Your children should know how to use bandages and Neosporin, what medicine to take for what symptoms and how much (make sure they are mature enough for this), as well as how to call 911—but please don’t practice this, just help them memorize the number! The better equipped they are for an emergency, the more chances they have at being able to stay calm and help.
Outdoor Survival and Emergency Preparedness
Everyone should know how to build a fire. You might think that sounds ridiculous, especially if you live in a big city and have never spent a night outdoors, but it can be a life saver. A few years ago, the power in my parents’ city went out. It was out for a whole week. That might not seem like a long time, but it really was. They couldn’t go stay somewhere else because they had to be close for work, and the hotels filled up pretty quick anyway. Luckily, both my parents could take care of themselves. But they had several neighbors who had no clue what to do in this kind of situation. My parents told them to just bring over their share of the food, and they would teach them how to cook. They dug a fire pit in the back yard and made a Dutch oven dinner every night. Even though there were other options, my parents didn’t worry, they could take care of themselves and help their neighbors.
You children should also have:
Yes, people need to know how to act in social situations. Teach your children manners. They need to know how to hold the door open for someone, to say please and thank you, to look at someone when they’re talking to them, all these things and more. With today’s technology we also need to teach our children when it is appropriate to be using our phones and tablets and when it is not.
Social skills are more than just manners. You don’t have to tame a creative personality to fit into a conformist ideal, but you can teach them when certain comments, behaviors and language are not right for certain social situations. Encourage your children to make friends and join groups and organizations. These will give your children opportunities to learn how to socialize.
A Sense of Self-worth
So many children today are suffering from a lack of self-esteem. Your home should be a place of comfort and peace. Let your children know they are important, that they are special. Find ways to help build their self-esteem; compliment them, point out their good attributes, support them and be there when they need help.
A Desire to Learn and Curiosity
Someone who enjoys learning is someone who will always find a reason to get out of bed in the morning. These are the people who go out and make things happen. Help your children learn to love learning. Find out what they are interested in and run with it.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, I have met several people with absolutely no common sense. Find ways to help your kids see what’s right in front of them and to think for themselves.
Problem Solving Skills
I have seen kids throw the biggest fits because they can’t figure out how to fit a square into a circular hole. The kids that throw those tantrums are the ones who usually have parents jump over and put the square into the square hole for the child. Those poor kids never learn how to experiment and figure things out on their own. They have the answers handed to them. It can be hard to watch your children struggle, especially when you have the answer, but sometimes we need to just back away and let them try and fail a couple of times. They’ll find the answer on their own, given the chance.
The Ability to Adapt
Change is the one constant we have in life. It will happen, no matter how much we try to avoid it. A healthy person is able to face changes in their life, adapt to them and move on. A set schedule is important for children as they’re growing, but too much structure is stifling. A structured life that never changes prohibits a child from learning how to take change in stride. Mix things up a bit. Try different things, whether it’s games, food or places you visit. These small changes will make a big difference in your child’s life as they grow up.
The Ability to Respectfully Resolve Conflict
Your kids will have problems with other kids; it’s unavoidable. When these things happen, sometimes parents need to intervene, but give the kids the chance to work it out first. Even if you have to step in, let the kids try talking with you there. You want to protect your kids and help them every chance you get, but they need to learn how to resolve conflict on their own. Conflict happens when you’re young and it happens in the workplace as an adult. Teach them now how to talk to others and be respectful and they will be better prepared for it later on in life.
Current research shows that some of the most commonly used and seemingly positive phrases we use with kids are actually quite destructive. 5 Things To Stop Saying to Your Kids and What to Say InsteadFeatured photo credit: Young hopeful businessman searching for his futurevia Shutterstock