In today’s high-paced, tech-dominated world, most kids can navigate a smartphone better than the average adult. However, when it comes to actually taking care of themselves, these small humans typically lack the practical skills needed. From running the washing machine and reading a map to writing a letter – by hand – and cleaning the bathroom, a shocking number of young adults head off into the world woefully unprepared.
If you take even just a small amount of time to start teaching your kids these vital life skills at a young age, it will help them be independent. This is a skill both they and you will appreciate.
1. Make a Something to Eat
When it comes to vital life skills, eating is at the top of the list. Unless you want your kid to grow up and subsist on takeout and fast food for the rest of their lives, they are going to need to know how to cook. It doesn’t need to be overly complicated. In the beginning, you might help your preschooler learn how to add washed and cut fruit to a bowl of yogurt. As they get older, you may what to teach them to make grilled cheese and eventually a simple stir-fry. Try to focus on healthy and nutritious meals that can be made with affordable ingredients.
As an added bonus, the more hands-on your kids are with food from an early age, the most likely they are to be conscious of what they’re eating and the more willing they’ll be to try new things.
2. Washing Their Laundry
Kids will be kids. And that means they’ll make messes (aka large piles of dirty clothes). While your two-year-old isn’t going to be schlepping their Spiderman t-shirt into the washroom, by six or seven, you can start having them walk through the process with you. Turn it into a game. Have them help you measure and add the detergent to the washing machine. Invite them to push the buttons, explaining which settings are appropriate for what they’re washing.
Want to encourage them to pay attention to the settings? Explain how the wrong setting can ruin Spiderman’s fabulous logo. You can also get your kids involved in the folding. While you’ll probably want to make sure you handle your own delicates, the kiddos can easily match socks and fold shorts.
3. Cleaning the Bathroom
From an early age, you can teach your kids to wash the sink after they brush their teeth. Another early habit to instill in your kids is hanging up their towel after each use. This will help keep it clear for longer. As you kids get older, you’ll want to teach them to scrub the toilet and the shower. And, make sure to teach them to thoroughly wash their hands afterward.
4. Writing a Letter (especially a thank you note)
Letters will always hold a special place in society and help set individuals apart. This is especially true of the thank you note. So teach your kids how to write one. The skill will help them learn how to communicate, build self-esteem, and maybe one day even help them land a job.
5. Navigating a Map
Today’s GPS offers turn-by-turn voice directions and auto-correct rerouting if you make a wrong turn. But what happens if your kid’s GPS dies or if they end up someplace without reception? Navigating a map can sometimes be the difference between life and death.
One of the best ways to teach them to use a map is at a zoo or museum. Institutions like this often have fun, colorful maps. Invite your kids to find the exhibits they want to see most. Then, have them follow the path on the map to find their different destinations.
6. Cleaning a Wound
Scratches and cuts happen. Typically, they’re far from career ending. However, if left unattended, they can cause further damage. Rather than have your kid freak out over a little blood, help them learn to apply pressure, rinse the cut clean, add some antibiotic ointment, and apply a bandage. At the end be sure to celebrate a job well done with them. This helps reinforce that they handled a touch situation well, and eases the stress of future incidents.