Every parent wants the best for his or her children. We want to raise our kids right and be there for them. While we can’t instill in kids every skill imaginable, there are some essential life skills all parents should teach their kids. I’m not just talking about how to ride a bike, play a musical instrument or drive a stick shift. These essential life skills will help your child better cope in the world and grow into a responsible, respectful and valuable member of society.
1. Teach kids to never stop reading and learning.
The more you read and learn, the more you open your mind to a wide range of possibilities and know all sorts of things that make you smarter and wiser. Children should also know learning does not involve reading textbooks only. There are many ways to learn. Encourage your children to be open-minded and receptive to learning from life situations (both positive and negative), other people who are good role models, as well as their parents.
2. Teach kids to play well with others.
Today’s world has become a global village. The value of teamwork and accepting others for their differences cannot be emphasized enough. Encourage children to team up and work with others toward common goals. This way you instill in them not only tolerance for divergent views, but also empathy and the will to take other people’s thoughts and feelings into account.
3. Teach kids to resolve disagreements amicably.
Disagreements are inevitable in life, especially in today’s hyper-competitive, self-serving world. Children should practice keeping a level head in the face of confrontations and disagreements. Encourage them to breathe, weigh all sides of an issue and ask questions like “why” and “what if.” That way they focus on the problem and not the person, and it become easier to control dangerous emotions like anger and rage.
4. Teach kids to let their voice be heard, but in the right way.
Let kids know that you as a parent won’t always be there to protect and defend them. Encourage them to stand up for themselves, speak what’s on their mind boldly and respectfully, and lead the way when the situation calls for it. The ability to stand up for yourself (and others), to communicate effectively and to lead are some of the most valuable skills anyone can possess in the modern world. It should be learned early.
5. Teach kids to apologize when they are wrong, and forgive when they are wronged.
Children should know everyone makes mistakes, but forgiveness can heal the worst of mistakes. There is no shame in asking for forgiveness and in forgiving others. In fact, asking for forgiveness and forgiving others is a mark of true courage. Encourage kids to cultivate an attitude of forgiveness and move past hurts and wrongdoings.
6. Teach kids to show unexpected kindness and help the less fortunate when they can.
Showing unexpected kindness is not only a sweet thing to do, but also the easiest way to touch a life. Encourage kids to show kindness and lend a helping hand whenever they can. It will help them develop compassion and will help them understand the difference between wants and needs in life.
7. Teach kids to remain positive and focus more on the brighter side of life.
Life is not all sunshine and rainbows. It is also not all gloom and doom. Life is a mix of good and bad experiences. If you focus on the positive side of life more than the negative, life isn’t so bad after all. Encourage kids to remain positive, count their blessings and extract joy and happiness from “little” things in life, like a beautiful sunset or wonderful family. Positivity and laughter can shield from the stress, pain and malice in the world.
8. Teach kids to protect the environment and care for animals.
Kids should know people only have this one planet to live on. We all, therefore, need to protect and care for it. That means caring for plants, animals and the natural environment all around us. Encourage kids to feed the birds, walk the dog and even water plants. That way they will become mindful and protective of the planet and all that is in it.
9. Teach kids to brush, floss and keep neat.
Cleanliness, they say, is next to godliness. Kids need to learn how to clean and floss from an early age. Encourage, and even reward, them for good hygiene behavior and healthy living, including eating well and exercising regularly. When kids are clean, healthy and happy, everyone is happy.
10. Teach kids to love unconditionally.
Love is the greatest virtue of them all. Everything hinges on it. Without love everything crumbles. Teach kids to love themselves and others not for what they do, but for who they are. And when kids are old enough, let them know the importance of loving their partner unconditionally and practicing safe sex. It might be uncomfortable, but don’t forget to teach kids how to recognize and say “No!” when someone is using or abusing them sexually.
Featured photo credit: The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice/symphony of love via flickr.com