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These 17 Life Skills Will Teach Your Kids Responsibility

These 17 Life Skills Will Teach Your Kids Responsibility

As parents, one of your main responsibilities is to make sure that your kids are prepared for the real world, and that they are going to be responsible adults. In today’s world, this can be more challenging than ever, but it certainly isn’t impossible.

In fact, there are many life skills you can teach your kids to help them become responsible members of society, not to mention being happy and productive adults, and below I have outlined several tips that will help teach your kids how to be responsible and productive adults.

1. Teach Navigation Skills

Having one’s driver’s license doesn’t mean that one has navigation skills. In addition to helping them learn how to drive, teach them how to navigate.

They need to understand how to use a GPS system as well as a map, how to navigate through rush hour traffic, both in the city and on the highway, and other skills they won’t learn in Driver’s Ed. Of course, they also need to learn how to be patient in traffic and learn defensive driving skills.

2. Encourage Them To Get A Job

Just because your teen does well in school, it doesn’t mean that they are ready for the workforce. School teaches them academics.

You need to make sure that they know what it is to hold down a job.

Encourage them to take on summer and after-school jobs, so they will learn about the responsibility of a paying job, and how to deal with others, how to deal with conflict, and how to conduct themselves appropriately in any situation,

3. Teach Goal Setting

Everyone has goals, but not all goals are realistic ones. Teens in particular tend to have impractical goals—becoming famous, rich or popular, especially with what they see in social media these days—and it is your job to show them how to set realistic ones, and how to achieve those.

Talk to your teen about what they want to achieve both long-term and short-term. There are many studies about the relationship of goal setting in maintaining happiness in one’s life. Every time you experience reward by achieving your goals, dopamine is released which is responsible for feelings of motivation.

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4. Help Them Control Emotions

We all have our moments when it is difficult to deal with our emotions. It could be a conflict at work, relationship issues, or other situations that require tact. But, over time, we learn how to keep things in check for the most part. This is something that many teens have trouble with, since they are dealing with school work, teachers, peer pressure, and their home lives, but you can help.

Teach them how to deal with their emotions in a healthy manner, such as through sports, music, or arts and crafts . This also helps in encouraging patience. Even leading personal trainers for athletes would say that controlling emotions is very crucial. The more they are able to stay in control, the more confidence they will have (and you as well) for when tougher situations happen.

5. Teach Coping Skills for Emergencies

Once your kids are on their own, they are going to need coping skills to help them deal with emergencies. It could be as simple as a fire in a frying pan, an automotive breakdown, or even a leaky pipe in the kitchen.

You need to take the time to teach them about any number of little emergencies that can happen, and how to deal with them appropriately. They also need to learn how to cope without their mobile devices. [1] These things may not always be available when they need them.

6. Involve in Household Management

If your teenager has a messy room, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going to be sloppy housekeepers in their own home. But, it is a good sign that they need to learn more about household management skills, such as budgeting, cleaning, scheduling appointments, and more.

They are likely going to have roommates, either in a dormitory or in an apartment, and if they don’t have these life skills, they are going to have problems with anyone they live with.

7. Close Your Wallet

Stop giving your teen money every time they ask for it. The more you give them, the less you teach them.

One of the most important life skills for anyone is how to handle their finances. If your teen is working, have them save a portion of their paycheck each week and put it right into a savings account.

Even better, encourage them to invest now in a retirement savings plan. It’s never too early to plan for the future. Not only will this teach them about financial responsibility, they will also have some extra cash when they really need it.

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8. Encourage Healthy Eating Habits

A lot of today’s teens do not have healthy habits. They sit with their mobile devices all day long without getting much exercise, and they don’t eat properly. [2].

No matter what you are cooking at home, they are bound to be eating junk food when you are not around. A personal trainer once told me, “It is a good idea to take them to see a nutritionist, who can help get their diets on the right track, and teach them about healthy eating that is right for their body types.” The important bit here is matching a healthy diet to your kid’s body type and day to day activities.

9. Teach “You Did It, You Fix It”

A lot of parents make the mistake of trying to fix all of their kids’ problems. While this may be okay when they are very young, they must learn to deal with their own problems, especially the problems that they create themselves.

If your kids are in situations that they can handle, such as an argument with a friend or a conflict with a teacher, don’t help them. Let them handle it on their own, instead, teach them problem-solving skills and become they’re “guide” so they learn from the experience.

10. Stop Bailing Them Out

This goes hand in hand with teaching them about taking responsibility. If your teen gets into trouble, be it a conflict at school or with a sibling, don’t run to their rescue, at least not right away.

Yes, they may end up needing your help, but let them try and figure out how to take responsibility for their own actions. You won’t always be around to bail them out.

11. Give Them Problems To Solve

Your job isn’t to make life easy for your teen. Your job is to teach them how to get along in the real world as an adult. So, don’t solve their problems for them.

Give them situations where they will have to think for themselves, and see what they are able to do. They may surprise you, and themselves, given the opportunity to solve their own problems.

12. Teach Them To Stand Up For Themselves

Obviously, you are not teaching your kids to be fighters. But, you should be helping them learn how to negotiate in a conflict. Getting angry and throwing temper tantrums isn’t going to help them in any way, and I’m sure we’ve all learned this the hard way as parents.

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Teach them the skills they need to stay calm in any situation, such as counting to 10 before losing their temper, learning how to walk away from a conflict, and helping them recognize their emotions and be able to deal with those emotions during conflicts.

13. Teach Them How To Pay it Forward

Not only do we need to take care of ourselves, we need to have compassion for the world around us.

There are several ways that you can teach your teen how to contribute to this world. [3] Get them to volunteer at a local animal shelter or food bank.

You never know. They may love these things so much that it could lead to a career in helping others.

14. Encourage Them to Trust Themselves

Schools teach kids how to follow rules, but not about real life skills. You need to teach them that while they need to take instructions, they also need to be independent thinkers.

Help your teens learn how to trust in themselves and their decisions. Sure, there will be a few bad decisions made, but they will learn from their mistakes, and learn how to make better decisions.

15. Explain the Household Budget

You can talk to kids until you are blue in the face about how to budget, but unless they actually see good budgeting skills in action, they will have difficulty understanding how to do it themselves.

Talk to them about various household expenses, such as electricity and other utility bills, grocery expenses, and maintaining a vehicle. Show them your household income, and where every bit of it goes. Let them help with the budgeting so they will know what to do when they are on their own.

16. Get Them a Credit Card

Give your teen their own credit card.

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Yes, you read that right.

This is one of the best ways to teach fiscal responsibility. If they run up the card and have no credit left, don’t pay it off for them. Let them figure out how to pay it off and use it responsibly. The earlier they learn about responsibility with credit cards, the better.

17. Set a Shining Example

If you are doing none of the above things yourself, how can you expect your teen to become a responsible adult?

You are their best example, so put your best foot forward. Get the bills paid on time. Keep the house clean. Go to work every day. When kids have a great example like you, they are going to have a great head start on their future.

We Play A Major Role

In order to prepare teens for adulthood, you, as a parent, need to teach them important life skills that will help them to become productive adults.

Keep an open dialog with your kids, and let them know that they can come to you to get answers; and, if they need help with developing any of the skills that you are trying to teach them. If you work together, you can do it. Keep an open communication with them, and if they have problems, listen, and come up with ways to work through those problems together.

Featured photo credit: Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Jane Dizon

Nurse, Ninja Mom, Digital Marketing Specialist and Writer

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Published on December 20, 2019

Is Authoritarian Parenting Good or Bad for Your Child?

Is Authoritarian Parenting Good or Bad for Your Child?

Kate sits down to the dinner table and is eager to be a good girl and eat her dinner like her Mom and Dad want her to do. She is a sweet girl who wants the approval of her parents very much. It is not always easy though. During dinner, she stands up and starts to leave the table because she has to use the bathroom. Her Dad yells at her to sit back down. He tells her “we don’t just get up from the dinner table, we wait and ask to be excused after everyone is finished eating.” She begins to protest, wanting to explain that she needs to use the bathroom. Her father becomes more upset with her and yells at her that she is now talking back and she is not allowed to say another word at the dinner table until everyone is finished eating and then she can be excused.

Unfortunately for Kate, she can’t hold it, and she has a little accident because she is too fearful to say a word to her Dad. She doesn’t want to get yelled at anymore. She also knows that in her home, kids don’t have a say. What Mom and Dad say is like words carved into stone. They are strict beyond reason and they will not bend their rules. Therefore, Kate felt that she had no choice in the matter and when she could no longer hold it. There was nothing she could do about it.

Kate’s parents are an example of authoritarian parenting. They are strict, they are not emotionally engaged with their children, and they have very high expectations for their children. This type of parenting style leaves children feeling disconnected from their parents.

Kate wanted to communicate to her parents that she had to use the restroom, but she couldn’t even get her words out because her parents have such strict rules and demands of her. They did not care to hear what she had to say, because upholding their rules was more important to them. In their household, a child’s opinions and feelings do not matter.

This kind of strict parenting is not helpful for children. It can damage a child and leave them with low self-esteem, mental health issues, and doing poor academically among other problems cited by research in Parenting Science.[1]

What Does Authoritarian Parenting Look Like?

In the 1960’s, a researcher and theorist by the name of Baumrind established the well known theory of parenting styles. Those four parenting styles, which are well known today, are authoritarian, authoritative, passive, and neglectful. For proactive parents that are trying hard to be good parents, they will usually lean toward either authoritarian or authoritative.

Authoritarian parenting involves strict parenting and high expectations for children. This can sound reasonable and even like good parenting. However, the strict parenting is often characterized by lack of compassion toward the child, little to no flexibility in rules, and complete control sought over the child’s behavior.

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Parents who use this parenting style believe it is their job to control the will and behavior of their children. An article in Psychology Today explains how authoritarian parents operate:[2]

Authoritarian parents believe that children are, by nature, strong-willed and self-indulgent. They value obedience to higher authority as a virtue unto itself. Authoritarian parents see their primary job to be bending the will of the child to that of authority—the parent, the church, the teacher. Willfulness is seen to be the root of unhappiness, bad behavior, and sin. Thus, a loving parent is one who tries to break the will of the child.

For example, Jake has authoritarian parents. He wants to stay out past curfew on a school night because he has an opportunity to play in a jazz ensemble. He has been playing the saxophone for years and his ambition is to play in a college jazz ensemble.

With Jake still being in high school, his parents have a curfew. On school nights, it is 8:00 pm. This rule is instituted because his parents believe they need to ensure that Jake gets his school work done each night and that he needs to be well rested for school the next day. However, they don’t explain the why of their rules to him, they simply tell him that those are their rules. The jazz ensemble is practicing at 8:00 pm on a Thursday night and they have invited Jake to come play with them. It is a well known group and a huge opportunity for Jake.

Unfortunately, his parents say no. Their authoritarian parenting style is unwavering. He wants to discuss the opportunity and its importance, but his parents will not even entertain the conversation. They stop him mid-sentence and go over their rules again. There is no flexibility.

If Jake’s parents had been authoritative, they would have taken the time to hear out his case and would likely have granted him a later curfew for that one instance. They would see that, although they have a curfew, there are some instances when an opportunity is worth bending the rules. They would ask that he has his homework done before going to play with the group, and that he come home as soon as the practice was finished.

Authoritative parents have rules, but they are also flexible based on reasonable requests for exceptions. The authoritative parents are interested in how their children are thinking and feeling. Conversely, authoritarian parents are not likely to be interested in hearing their child’s thoughts and feelings, because they want to control the will of their child, not come to some middle ground.

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Here are some characteristics of authoritarian parenting:

  • They have strict rules that are unyielding and unwavering. This is often called “heavy handed parenting.”
  • They do not want input from the child about rules. They also feel that the child’s opinion does not matter, because they are the parent thus are the supreme authority over the child.
  • There are severe punishments when rules are broken.
  • There is an emotional disconnection between parent and child, because the parent is not interested in what the child thinks or feels. They are more interested in controlling the behavior of the child and having the child be compliant to their rules.
  • Children are expected to listen to their parents and follow the rules, there are no exceptions. A child that voices their objections will likely be punished for doing so.
  • The parents have high expectations, especially when it comes to compliance of their rules.
  • Parents expect that their child will be obedient and they do not need to explain the “why” of their rules and expectations. Compliance is expected out of sheer obedience, not because the child understands the reasons why the rules are set. Parents do not feel the need to explain why they set their rules.
  • There is a failure to have attached relationships between parent and child because of the overly dominant nature of authoritarian parents and their unwillingness to allow their children to have their own voice or free will.

Authoritarian parents are driven by a belief that they need to control their children. This means controlling their children’s behavior to an extreme. They are inflexible and don’t take into account the child’s desires, emotions, or well-being as being as important to enforcing rules to get the desired outcome. Authoritative parents on the other hand, seek to guide and direct their children instead of control. There is a distinction.

The Problems of Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting has many negative consequences to children. Children who are raised in homes with extreme authoritarian parenting are more likely to become dependent on drugs and alcohol, have lower academic performance, and increased mental health issues according to Parenting for Brain.[3] Children who are raised with authoritarian parents are also more likely to have lower self esteem, inability to make decisive choices, and have social skills that are lacking.

When a child is raised to be taught day in and day out that their voice does not matter, then that child will likely be ingrained with that belief. They will not value their own opinions because they have been taught that what they think does not matter and is of no value. This leads to poor self-esteem and low self-worth.

If a child doesn’t believe that their thoughts matter, then what they think about themselves overall is going to be affected. They will not think highly of themselves or believe that what they think, say, or do is of value. This will contribute to low self-esteem long term.

Social skills will suffer because a child who comes from an authoritarian home will be trained to believe that nobody wants to hear their opinion and that relationships are based on compliance.

For example, Judy is raised in an authoritarian home. She is now 18 years old and has her first boyfriend. Anytime that he asks something of her, even if she internally disagrees, she feels that she is supposed to comply and do what he says in order for him to like her and continue wanting to be with her.

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He wants to have sex. She does not feel that she is ready, but she will not voice this to her boyfriend because she doesn’t think that her opinion will matter or that he will want to listen to what she is feeling. She goes along with sex in their relationship to be compliant. She doesn’t want to be punished by disagreeing with not having sex. He says that they are ready for that next step in the relationship and she fears that the consequence of saying no would be that he ends the relationship.

Therefore, she doesn’t even voice her thoughts or feelings on the situation because she doesn’t think they have value or will be heard anyway.

She has been taught by her parents that her opinions and feelings don’t matter. She has learned from the past 18 years with her parents that what matters most is that she is compliant. She gets along with her parents best when she is doing exactly what they want her to do. This is why she feels the need to do the same with her boyfriend.

Going along with his decisions, being compliant, and not voicing her feelings will keep the relationship going and avoid conflict or punishment. The ultimate punishment in her mind would be that he ends the relationship.

With her opinions never being valued by those who she has loved the most (her parents), she has learned that she should not voice her opinion if she wants to keep the other person in the relationship happy. In her mind, because of how she has been raised, compliance overrides all else, and her opinion is meaningless.

However, her boyfriend is not her parents. He is understanding and would want to know how she feels. He wants a long term relationship with her and he loves her so much. His true desire is for her to be happy. He would never want her to have sex if she wasn’t feeling the same way that he was feeling. He would gladly wait and would want to hear what she thinks and feels about taking their relationship to the next level.

Authoritarian parenting methods can inflict great harm on a child. The child becomes emotionally damaged because they grow up believing that their opinions, thoughts, and feelings do not matter. Instead they are taught that compliance and being obedient supersedes all else.

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The Solution

The solution is to move from authoritarian parenting methods to authoritative parenting practices.

Authoritative parenting has been deemed as the best parenting method by researchers, according to Psychology Today. Parents who use authoritative parenting methods have rules for their children, but they are not looking for blind compliance. They recognize that having a relationship with their child is of great importance and therefore valuing the child’s voice, opinions, and thoughts is important.

Authoritative parents seek to guide and direct their children, but they do not seek to control the will of their child.

Parenting Coach Plan explains the foundation of authoritative parenting as the following:[4]

Authoritative parenting can be described as a style of parenting that combines firm limits and clear boundaries with fair and consistent discipline. Authoritative parents are also nurturing, highly-involved, and willing to speak openly with their child regarding expectations and the consequences for failing to meet those expectations. Rules are enforced and fair consequences are put in place for when those rules are broken.

Children raised in authoritative homes follow the rules because they understand the “why” of the rules. They are also bonded to their parents because they are able to talk to their parents openly. This bond helps nurture a positive home environment and a two-way relationship that can last a lifetime.

To learn more about how to be an authoritative parent and how to discipline a child using this parenting method, check out my article:

How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

Reference

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