Parenting Tips

Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs

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Children are full of surprises, and they are more capable than we give them credit for. But parents often feel “bache hi hain” and with this emotional mindset, they actually end up being deprived of learning opportunities. Your good intentions may, in fact, be setting them up for failure once they face the real adult world. According to Ellen Galinsky, author of “Mind in the Making” & a renowned researcher and consultant on child development, children need certain essential life skills so that they can use the knowledge they acquire through various sources.

Studies have proven that even from a very young age children can (and should) be taught skills that will make successful adults. These are basic “life skills” which will guarantee that your child leads a successful life.

Critical Thinking: Children are curious by nature, and inculcating this curiosity productively can turn them into focused thinkers. Developing a thought process of “what-causes-what” will ensure that their beliefs, decisions and actions are always on solid footing. Rather than getting frustrated with the number of whys thrown at you during the course of a day, use it as an opportunity to inculcate a mindset of developing, testing and verifying theories. We need to inculcate the habit of digging deeper and finding satisfactory answers so that their minds can be trained to think through all aspects of any problem more effectively.

Domestic skills: Irrespective of gender, your child should learn some basic house-keeping skills. This includes kitchen essentials like heating things in the microwave, washing utensils, boiling potatoes or eggs, making tea and/or coffee, the shelf life of foods etc. Even if you have enough house help, make sure your child knows how to do the laundry, iron their own clothes. Girls and boys need to know how to handle basic tools like a hammer and screwdriver, and changing light bulbs and batteries. You (or your domestic help) isn’t always going to be around to take care of your child’s house. Teaching the basics and making them capable from an early age will mean that they are more confident of taking care of themselves when they head out for higher studies.

People Skills: Your child is the center of your world. She needs to barely utter a syllable and she will have her wildest wishes considered. But in the real world, getting your point across to other people, as we all know, can be challenging. From manipulative friends on the playground, to vindictive teachers, to bullying bosses, your child will have to deal with a variety of difficult people. So, in addition to empathy and good communication skills, they also need to understand how to manage conflict without resorting to violence or other extreme measures. Set your kids up to think calmly, not overreact, and find ways to communicate better with people around them.

Self-drive and Awareness: The world is constantly changing. The more self-motivated your child is to learn and adapt, the less likely she is to fall behind. In today’s world where there are enough distractions around and information is always in abundance, focused thinking and self-control can go a long way. They should understand the concept of consequences of their own actions and can be taught this from a surprisingly young age. Even your toddler can be taught to be self-reliant and not to shift the blame. For e.g. instead of hitting the floor for scraping their knee, we should encourage them to be more careful when they run so that they won’t fall and get hurt the next time.

It’s best to start young and ensure your kids learn these basic life skills. Always remember that you can’t live their life for them.

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Nupur Netan Sachdeva, founder of the Practical Mum blog, writes about simplifying parenting for the hyper-connected mothers of today. She has worked the corridors of financial markets for more than a decade, and may at this point, have nothing but black coffee flowing through her veins. Follow her on Instagram @practicalmum where she shares tales of raising a happy & healthy child in the maximum city of Mumbai.