It’s every parents’ job to make sure their kids are prepared for life, and most parents do this well enough, but they can always do better. One issue that many parents encounter is helping their kids become independent and look after themselves. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, after all, you want to do everything you can for your kids, no matter how old they are or even where they are in the world.
But, this means your kids will not be able to look after themselves as effectively as they – and even you – would want them to. They risk missing out on crucial lessons that means they are not prepared for life. You can’t keep a close, loving eye on your kids forever, so here are the best ways to teach our kids to look after themselves.
Start With Basic Skills
The first step towards preparing your kids for life starts at home with basic but essential life skills. These skills will include everything they will need to do when they get older, move out, and live alone, so introducing them to these skills is crucial, no matter how much they resist.
Teach your kids to cook, clean, and fix things at the very least. You can start this as early as possible as long as they won’t put themselves (or anyone else) in danger. They don’t need to take the reins and do everything, but helping them become comfortable and familiar with certain household tasks means they will be a step ahead of others once they reach college.
Develop Routines At Home
You can also develop routines as early as possible. These routines will include basic hygiene, such as regular bathing and brushing their teeth (and don’t forget to floss), but also general organization routines like making their bed and keeping their room clean.
The earlier you make these routines normal, the sooner it becomes ingrained in their everyday life. It can be difficult to get into good habits, later on, so introduce them as soon as possible. You don’t need to make it a military operation, so try to make it as fun as possible, as this will make it seem more like a game rather than a chore.
Let Them Try Things Themselves
You know better than anyone that your kids cannot go through life having everything done for them. But, they won’t feel confident doing things themselves if they don’t get the chance to try it themselves.
As your kids get older, give them more opportunities to master the art of everyday needs around the home or simply out and about. This could be as simple as asking for a bus ticket or knowing what products to use to easily detangle hair without all the stress and battles that come with it. As soon as you think they are ready, let them try something (with supervision, of course), and you’ll set them up for success.
It’s always a great thing seeing kids who are motivated to learn. But, education has a lot to contend with. From endless (and mindless) videos on their smartphones to video games and TV shows, it’s easy for kids to go for the easy option.
This is why encouraging your kids’ curiosity is so important. You shouldn’t force them to read book after book about specific subjects, but you can help them see the enjoyment in learning. This is not solely on you, though. Their teachers should also contribute, but this curiosity can flourish at home as long as you know how to capture their interest so they never stop learning.
Introduce Them to Activities
Recognize When It’s Time to Let Go
Once your kids hit puberty, you might see a considerable change. This is not something to be alarmed about. You expected it to happen, anyway. However, this doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult to find out your kids don’t rely on you so much.
There are two ways to approach this. Some parents double-down and, as a result, end up furthering the gap. Other parents can recognize when it’s time to let go and let their kids go out there and enjoy their life. They won’t want to spend as much time at home; they’d rather hang out with friends, go to the mall, or see live music. You need to accept this, as it can teach them how to get by without your supervision.
Talk About Feelings With Them
Everyone has feelings, but a lot of kids can become confused and are unsure how to deal with them, especially when they encounter feelings they are not familiar with. Speaking openly about feelings within the household will help them become more comfortable with how they feel, meaning they can process feelings much more easily.
The feelings they experience will vary as they get older. It’s important to teach them how to deal with sadness and anger early, as they might struggle to respond to these feelings properly when they grow up. If you can show them the best ways to process feelings, they will not overreact to upsetting or confusing situations.
Let Them Have Downtime
Some parents believe the only way to encourage healthy and happy children is to keep them busy at all times. However, while it’s good for kids to do things and explore activities, they also need their downtime.
Whether your kids are six or sixteen, you can’t expect them to do something every second of every day. Just like you, they need the chance to relax and unwind after school or after getting home from their part-time job. Allowing them enough downtime to recharge will prevent stress and anxiety and ensure they have enough energy for the next day without wearing them down.
The idea that kids don’t play outside as they used to is something you can find anywhere. It’s usually video games and computers that are blamed, but you also need to consider how anti-child many outdoor spaces are, especially with the threats of loitering or suspicious eyes from curtain twitchers.
Kids want to be outside and enjoy the fresh air, but they might not know where they can go. Introducing kids to outdoor activities such as local bike trails or walking routes while they are young will instill an adoration of the outdoors in them. This will serve them well when they are older, as they will already feel comfortable pulling on walking boots and wading through mud, which is something lots of late-comers struggle with.
Push Them Out of Their Comfort Zone (Gently)
Just like adults, kids can fall into a comfort zone too easily. They are resistant to try new things, usually because they lack confidence or would rather do nothing at all.
You know as much as anyone how enticing your comfort zone is, but you also know how important it is to get out of here to experience personal growth. That said, you mustn’t shove your kids into unfamiliar territory. Instead, gently nudge them towards trying something new. Encourage them to try different things with their friends. They’ll soon realize that just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s scary.
Let Them Make Mistakes
Mistakes happen, yet some kids are terrified to make mistakes because they think an adult will shout at them or that they will never recover from the failure. This is entirely incorrect, though. While they might have had some experiences with angry adults, this is the wrong approach and will only harm your kids in the long run.
You must teach your kids that mistakes will increase resiliency, among a range of other benefits that are all crucial to learning more about themselves. They won’t be perfect at everything, and learning this the first time can sting. However, it’s an important life lesson that they must experience if they want to look after themselves and be prepared for what life throws at them.
Identify Teaching Moments
As a parent, you will have numerous moments to educate your kids, but these moments can – and often will – pass you by if you are not paying attention. You need to be on the lookout to teach your kids about a wide range of things in life that they might not encounter at school.
This could include everything from social issues to survival skills to things that might seem pointless at the time but could help them in the future. Of course, you don’t want to be that parent who lectures their children until their ears bleed. Still, knowing how to twist and transform any experience into something educational will help your children adapt to new situations and help them learn compassion for others and the world around them.
There will come the point in your life where your kids will believe they don’t need you anymore. However, this could not be further from the truth, and they will – at an even later point – come back to get advice and guidance. Still, if you provide them with enough skills and experiences to prepare them for life, they will also have no trouble looking after themselves.
What do you think?