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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

Reference

More by this author

Jane Dizon

Nurse, Ninja Mom, Digital Marketing Specialist and Writer

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Published on February 11, 2021

3 Positive Discipline Strategies That Are Best For Your Child

3 Positive Discipline Strategies That Are Best For Your Child

I’m old enough to remember how the cane at school was used for punishment. My dad is old enough to think that banning corporal punishment in schools resulted in today’s poorly disciplined youth. With all of this as my early experiences, there was a time when I would have been better assigned to write about how to negatively discipline your child.

What changed? Thankfully, my wife showed me different approaches for discipline that were very positive. Plus, I was open to learning.

What has not changed is that kids are full of problems with impulses and emotions that flip from sad to happy, then angry in a moment. Though we’re not that different as adults with stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, and stimulants such as sugar and caffeine in our diets.

Punishment as Discipline?

What this means is that we usually take the easy path when a child misbehaves and punish them. Punishment may solve an isolated problem, but it’s not really teaching the kids anything useful in the long term.

Probably it’s time for me to be clear about what I mean by punishment and discipline as these terms are often used interchangeably, but they are quite different.

Discipline VS. Punishment

Punishment is where we inflict pain or suffering on our child as a penalty. Discipline means to teach. They’re quite the opposite, but you’ll notice that teachers, parents, and coaches often confuse the two words.

So, as parents, we have to have clear goals to teach our kids. It’s a long-term plan—using strategies that will have the longest-lasting impact on our kids are the best use of our time and energy.

If you’re clear about what you want to achieve, then it becomes easier to find the best strategy. The better we are at responding when our kids misbehave or do not follow our guidance, the better the results are going to be.

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3 Positive Discipline Strategies for Your Child

Stay with me as I appreciate that a lot of people who read these blogs do not always have children with impulse control. We’ve had a lot of kids in our martial arts classes that were the complete opposite. They had concentration issues, hyperactive, and disruptive to the other children.

The easy solution is to punish their parents by removing the kids from the class or punish the child with penalties such as time outs and burpees. Yes, it was tempting to do all of this, but one of our club values is that we pull you up rather than push you down.

This means it’s a long-term gain to build trust and confidence, which is destroyed by constant punishments.

Here are the discipline strategies we used to build trust and confidence with these hyperactive kids.

1. Patience

The first positive discipline strategy is to simply be patient. The more patient you are, the more likely you are to get results. Remember I said that we need to build trust and connection. You’ll get further with this goal using patience.

As a coach, sometimes I was not the best person for this role, but we had other coaches in the club that could step in here. As a parent, you may not have this luxury, so it’s really important to recognize any improvements that you see and celebrate them.

2. Redirection

The second strategy we use is redirection. It’s important with a redirection to take “no” out of the equation. Choices are a great alternative.

Imagine a scenario where you’re in a restaurant and your kid is wailing. The hard part here is getting your child to stop screaming long enough for you to build a connection. Most parents have calming strategies and if you practice them with your child, they are more likely to be effective.

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In the first moment of calm, you can say “Your choice to scream and cry in public is not a good one. It would be best to say, Dad. What can I do to get ice-cream?” You can replace this with an appropriate option.

The challenge with being calm and redirecting is that we need to be clear-minded, focused, and really engaged at the moment. If you’re on your phone, talking with friends or family, thinking about work or the bills, you’ll miss this opportunity to discipline in a way that has long-term benefits.

3. Repair and Ground Rules

The third positive discipline strategy is to repair and use ground rules. Once you’ve given the better option and it has been taken, you have a chance to repair this behavior to lessen its occurrence to better yet, prevent it from happening again. And by setting appropriate ground rules, you can make this a long-term win by helping your child improve their behavior.

It’s these ground rules that help you correct the poor choices of your child and direct the behavior that you want to see.

Consequences Versus Ultimatums

When I was a child and being punished. My parents worked in a busy business for long hours, so their default was to go to ultimatums. “Do that again and you’re grounded for a week,” or “If I catch you doing X, you’ll go to bed without dinner”.

Looking back, this worked to a point. But the flip side is that I remembered more of the ultimatums than the happier times. I’ve learned through trial and error with my own kids that consequences are more effective while not breaking down trust.

What to Do When Ground Rules Get Broken?

It’s on the consequences that you use when the ground rules are broken.

In the martial arts class, when the hyperactive student breaks the ground rules. They would miss a turn in a game or go to the back of the line in a queue. We do not want to shame the child by isolating them. But on the flip side, there should be clear ground rules and proportionate consequences.

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Yes, there are times when we would like to exclude the student from the class, the club, and even the universe. Again, it’s here that patience is so important and probably impulse control too. With an attainable consequence, you can maintain trust and you’re more likely to get the long-term behavior that you’re looking to achieve.

Interestingly, we would occasionally hear a strategy from parents that little Kevin has been misbehaving at home with his sister or something similar. He likes martial arts training, so the parent would react by removing Kevin from the martial arts class as a punishment.

We would suggest that this would remove Kevin from an environment where he is behaving positively. Removing him from this is likely to be detrimental to the change you would like to see. He may even feel shame when he returns to the class and loses all the progress he’s made.

Alternatives to Punishment

Another option is to tell Kevin to write a letter to his sister, apologizing for his behavior, and explaining how he is going to behave in the future.

If your child is too young to write, give the apology face to face. For the apology to feel sincere, there is some value to pre-framing or practicing this between yourself and your child before they give it to the intended person.

Don’t expect them to know the ground rules or what you’re thinking! It will be clearer to your child and better received with some practice. You can practice along the lines of: “X is the behavior I did, Y is what I should have done, and Z is my promise to you for how I’m going to act in the future.” You can replace XYZ with the appropriate actions.

It does not need to be a letter or in person, it can even be a video. But there has to be an intention to repair the broken ground rule. If you try these strategies, that is become fully engaged with them and you’re still getting nowhere.

But what to do if these strategies do not work? Then there is plenty to gain by seeking the help of an expert. Chances are that something is interfering or limiting their development.

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This does not mean that your child has a neurological deficiency, although this may be the root cause. But it means that you can get an objective view and help on how to create the changes that you would like to see. Remember that using positive discipline strategies is better than mere punishment.

There are groups that you can chat with for help. Family Lives UK has the aim of ensuring that all parents have somewhere to turn before they reached a crisis point. The NSPCC also provides a useful guide to positive parenting that you can download.[1]

Bottom Line

So, there your go, the three takeaways on strategies you can use for positively disciplining your child. The first one is about you! Be patient, be present, and think about what is best for the long term. AKA, avoid ultimatums and punishment. The second is to use a redirect, then repair and repeat (ground rules) as your 3-step method of discipline.

Using these positive discipline strategies require you to be fully engaged with your child. Again, being impulsive breaks trust and you lose some of the gains you’ve both worked hard to achieve.

Lastly, consequences are better than punishment. Plus, avoid shaming, especially in public at all costs.

I hope this blog has been useful, and remember that you should be more focused on repairing bad behavior because being proactive and encouraging good behavior with rewards, fun, and positive emotions takes less effort than repairing the bad.

More Tips on How To Discipline Your Child

Featured photo credit: Leo Rivas via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NSPCC Learning: Positive parenting

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