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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 September 21, 2020

The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

The Danger of Overscheduling Your Kids

I am a parent of three children aged 8, 6, and 6. Like many parents, I struggle with knowing the right balance of activities for them. I don’t want my kids to miss out on opportunities to play sports and participate in activities that will enhance their lives and help them grow as individuals. However, I also don’t want them to become overscheduled kids, to the extent that they get worn out and stressed out.

There is a balance in providing activities for our children and overscheduling them. The tendency for the latter is prevalent these days. Our lives — and the lives of our kids — are increasingly overscheduled and overworked. Thus, we need to understand the dangers of having overscheduled kids and how to prevent this from happening in our own families.

What’s Wrong with Overscheduling Your Kids?

1. Overscheduling Can Burn Out Our Kids

When our kids are on the go and scheduled to the max from a young age, their potential to get burned out before reaching high school is quite high. The New York Times reported some research on burnout and found that burnout with kids relates to their workload, along with their parents’ propensity to experience it.[1] This means that overworked children are more likely to get burned out than others. Similarly, overscheduled parents tend to have overscheduled kids more often than not.

Burnout

When a person is burned out, they feel overwhelmed and exhausted by what others expect them to get done daily. Children who are involved in too many activities with little to no downtime have a high chance of experiencing burnout. When parents place too many expectations on their kids, they also have an increased potential to burn out.

If you get the sense that your child is feeling overworked or overwhelmed by their daily activities, you need to know which ones can be cut back. If they have too many activities outside of school work, for instance, then that is one area that likely needs to be downsized.

An overworked child will present various symptoms like moodiness, irritability, crankiness, despondency, anger, stomach aches, headaches, rebellion, etc. Cutting back their activities will help to relieve their stress and reduce the said burnout signs. If your kid has severe burnout symptoms, though, then professional help from a pediatrician or therapist for children should be sought.

Downtime

Downtime is key to helping relieve burnout. If children don’t have free time during the day to have any rest, they are more likely to become burned out than others. Downtime means unorganized free time to do what they enjoy or relax. Cut back your kids’ extra-curricular activities if they don’t have downtime in their schedule.

Here are more tips on creating downtime for the children: How to Create Downtime for Kids.

2. Overscheduling Kills Playtime and Creativity

Kids need time to be kids. When their schedules are filled every day with activities like organized ballet, soccer, and music lessons, and they only take a break for dinner and bedtime, then they are overscheduled. They need to have free time after school to relax and play. When they don’t have that and proceed from one scheduled activity to the next, they are missing out on playtime.

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Playtime is crucial to child development. If they cannot get enough time to play, then their ability to develop their creativity decreases. The Genius of Play explains that there are six major developmental benefits that children get from playtime:[2]

  • Creativity
  • Social skill development
  • Cognitive development
  • Physical development (i.e., balance, coordination)
  • Communication skills
  • Emotional development

If children don’t have time to play because they are always on-the-go, then they are missing out on the developmental benefits of play.

Children need downtime after school so that they can unwind, play, and decompress. Research from the Journal of Early Childhood Development and Care showed that kids need to play to deal with anxiety, stress, and worry.[3] Playtime provides an outlet for them to manage these emotions in a healthy manner and helps with the development of their creativity.

Children need free time to play every day. Fifteen minutes at recess is not enough. They need time for it after school, at home, outside of the constraints of scheduled activities.

Solution

Ensure that your child has time to play after school. This is especially important for young children who greatly benefit from playing. Limit organized activities so that your child is not scheduled every day and can play after school. If they have an activity every hour, then it doesn’t allow for playtime.

3. Overscheduling Causes Stress and Pressure

When kids are overscheduled because their parents are so intent on having high-performing children, then they will feel stressed. Parental pressure upon a child to do well in academics, music, multiple sports, and religious studies is a reality for many kids. The children scheduled in all of these activities can often feel stress and pressure, especially when they are expected to succeed in all of them.

It is hard enough for kids to be good or succeed at a single activity. For a parent to overschedule their child and expect superior performance in various activities, that is a recipe for a stressed-out child.

Solution

Parents should not schedule kids in multiple activities with the expectation of superior performance in all. They should also consider the child’s interests. If the child is not interested in one activity, then they are likely to feel stressed and pressured to do it.

For example, if Suzy has been taking piano lessons for four years, and she no longer enjoys learning the instrument, then perhaps it is time to take a break. If Suzy is forced to continue with the lessons and daily practices, then she may feel pressured to continue performing simply because her mom wants her to do so. This can lead Suzy to resent her mother for forcing her to keep on doing something that she doesn’t like anymore.

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Let your child help in selecting the activities that they get involved in. Also, put a cap on the number of activities they are doing. If they have a different activity every weekday, then they are likely overscheduled.

Kids need downtime and time to play, too. If they need to do a new activity every day, that downtime is diminished, considering the time at home or outside of the scheduled activities is limited. This limited time is then filled with homework, mealtime, and bedtime prep. Eliminating activities several days a week will allow the child to have some time to play freely. The younger the kid is, the more time they need playtime. As they get older, they can take on more activities; however, under the age of 13, playing daily is a must for children.

4. Healthy Eating Falls by the Wayside

Any parent who’s busy chauffeuring multiple kids to different activities after school knows how tempting fast food can become. Fast food, however, leads to less healthy food choices. French fries and hamburgers — the staple combo in most fast-food joints — cannot help your child thrive nutritionally.

When families are overscheduled, they tend to go for easy and quick meals. When rushed, many of us make poor food choices because we aren’t taking the time to think about a meal’s nutritional value and a balanced diet for our children.

5. Family Mealtimes Become a Thing of the Past

When we are taking our kids to sports and other extra-curricular activities that fall during dinnertime, the family often misses out on sharing a meal at home.

This is true in our own home. There are certain nights of the week that we have practices, and so we either eat together early (if possible) or eat separately, depending on what our schedules allow.

There is so much value in having family dinners. It provides an opportunity for family members to discuss their day, including their work and school activities. It is a time when technology is set aside so that everyone can truly focus on communicating with one another and catching up on what is happening in each other’s lives. When a kid’s activities are scheduled every evening, then that family time at the dining table gets lost. Dinnertime becomes a thing of the past as we overschedule kids and ourselves.

Try learning more about family time here: How to Maximize Family Time? 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Immediately.

Solution

Assess our schedule during the week to ensure that there’s always time for dinner with the family. Make it a point to establish a dinnertime schedule for the evenings that you do not have prior engagements scheduled. Remember: the time that you have with your kids under your roof is fleeting. Before long, they will be grownups and start living on their own. You need not dismiss or minimize the opportunity to bond with your children over meals.

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Having family mealtimes also allows you to make excellent food choices. This way, parents can create balanced and healthy meals and teach their children about the importance of eating good food for their bodies.

How to Turn Things Around?

1. Fix the Displaced Ambitions

Parents with overscheduled kids often mean well. They want their children to succeed, so they give them every chance to make it happen. They sign them up for various lessons, sports, and activities that may help the kids find success in life.

In other cases, the parent probably didn’t get such opportunities when they were young and felt that they missed out on many things. Hence, they provide those missed opportunities to their kids during their own childhood.

Carla is an example of such a parent. Carla always wanted to take dance and ballet classes as a child. She heard her friends talk about dance classes and performances, and they would even bring recital photos to school, showing their beautiful, detailed costumes. Carla wanted to be in those dance classes and learn ballet and have the opportunity to perform in a beautiful costume in front of an audience. Unfortunately, her family could not afford to give her that opportunity.

When Carla gave birth to a baby girl, she had visions of her little one growing big enough to take dance, ballet, and even tap classes someday. She was looking forward to dressing her daughter in dance costumes and watching her take lessons and eventually performing in recitals. When Carla’s daughter Anna was old enough to enroll at a dance class at four years old, she was thrilled. However, after a few months, it became clear that Anna was not enjoying these classes. She would cry before every lesson, begging Carla to let her stay home and not go to class. Her daughter had no interest in learning to dance.

In truth, it happens to many parents. They would enroll their kid in an activity that they wanted to do as a child but never got to try. Unfortunately, a parent’s interest is not always the same as that of their kids’. The child may humor mom or dad for some time and do the activity out of compliance. But if the child does not enjoy it anymore, they will eventually make things clear to their parents.

Parents should listen to their children. If the activity is something that they do not enjoy doing, ask the children what they think they would like to do, and then eliminate activities that they are not into. Similarly, teach them commitment by finishing a program, but don’t enroll them again in the same class if they absolutely do not want to do it.

Let the kids try different activities at a young age. Sometimes they don’t know if they like something until they try it out.

2. Try Clinics of Camps Before Committing

Don’t enroll your child in three sports at the same time to see which one they like or excel at. Doing so will make your kid overscheduled. Instead, you can use the summer break or preseason camps or clinics to try a variety of activities they are interested in.

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As an example, all three of my children said that they wanted to do lacrosse. We had already tried soccer, and it was not successful for two out of three of them. They would rather chase butterflies down the field or play tag than actually participate in their games. Therefore, before committing to lacrosse and spending a great deal of money on their gear, I signed them up for a sample clinic. It was a one-day program that intended to expose children to the sport and see if they would perhaps enjoy playing it. I was surprised to find that the three kids enjoyed lacrosse, so we signed up for the season. It was nice to be able to see them try out the sport in a clinic before committing to an entire season.

Most towns and cities have parks and recreation department. This is often a good place to check for clinics and camps for various activities. Our local department even offers art and dance classes. Most of them meet between two and four times total, so the children can get some exposure to the activity before signing them up at a private facility for a more long-term commitment.

3. Take an Inventory of Your Weekly Activities

Often, we do an activity without reflecting on how much we are already committed to doing each week. Before we commit to any more activities, we must be willing to look at everything that each family member does. Every child’s commitment is another responsibility for the parent as well. Parents must take children to and from each practice, so you need to consider the drive time for any activity.

For instance, if each of my three kids signed up for three different activities each week, I would be running myself ragged. Three activities for three kids means taking them to nine activities during the week. That doesn’t include the games that will likely be scheduled on the weekends. Three activities for every child, therefore, is too much for our family.

If some practices overlap on the schedule, then you need two parents or responsible adults to transport the children to different locations. Before you sign them up for multiple activities, you need to factor downtime, stress levels, and your ability to take them to each activity in the equation.

Consider the following before your kids can commit to various activities:

  • What is the time commitment for the child each week? Do they have enough energy and stamina for the activities? Do they get enough downtime daily to prevent burnout?
  • Is practice time required outside of their scheduled team practices and games?
  • How long is the travel time for you as a parent, along with wait time during practices? Do you have time allowances for these activities in your own schedule?
  • Does the activity time conflict with other activities on the schedule? Will it eliminate family dinners on a regular basis?
  • Does the child really want to do the activity?
  • What is the motivation for signing up for the activity?
  • Is this activity or commitment going to cause a great deal of stress on the child or other family members?

Check out these time-management tips for parents: 10 Time Management Tips Every Busy Parent Needs to Know.

Get The Kids Active and Involved!

Despite everything, it does not mean that you shouldn’t sign your child up for different activities like sports, music, dance, karate, etc. They are all great activities that can help children develop a variety of valuable life skills. The goal is to enroll them in things that they genuinely enjoy and avoid overscheduling kids by not letting them sign up for too many activities at a time.

More Tips for Scheduling Kids’ Activities

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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