My daughter just finished coming to me for help. She decided her bear needing more stuffing. However, she couldn’t figure out where she was having problems with her needle and thread. After a quick adjustment, she was able to sew her bear back up and feel a huge sense of accomplishment. It got me thinking. There are life skill kids should have so they can feel confident when they move out one day. I am going to share a few life skills I think kids should have and resources to help them learn them.
Important Life Skills for Kids to Learn
I have not put ages on these as I think that children don’t always accomplish things by a certain age. Some of these will depend on your comfort and others will depend on where your child is with maturity and development. This isn’t the law or some official statement either. These are simply things I think will help your children when they move out on their own as I moved out when I was quite young.
Disclaimer: Make sure to approach each of these items safely. You know your children and how to protect them.
Can your child sew up a tear in their jeans? Can they put on a patch? What about putting a button on? Start simple and teach your child some basic sewing skills. As parents, the temptation can be to do it for them. Instead, teach them. Give them the opportunity to be a bit more self-sufficient. They may poke themselves with a needle but I doubt they will do it more than once because it hurts.
This great video is very simple and part of a series filled with basic stitches. This would be a great starter if you aren’t confident teaching sewing. Red Ted Art also has a great blog post about getting kids started with sewing.
How to Boil Water
This may seem like a simple skill but you would be surprised by how many friends I had when I was a teenager who could not do this to save their lives. This will mean trusting your child with the stove but you may find that they are more able than you realize. My seven year old makes his own oatmeal using the stove in the mornings. We don’t own a microwave so he uses the stove.
Before you get them started, make sure to discuss safety and teach them how to fix problems.
How to Wash their own Laundry
One day your kids won’t live with you. You won’t be there to wash every load for them. Give them the responsibility of washing at least a load each week so they can learn. This will lighten your load and help them to take responsibility of their belongings. When your child is younger, start by having them help you empty the dryer or fold laundry. As they get older, give them the ability to run their own laundry.
My son is seven and washes most of his own laundry at this point. I was tired of finding it on the floor after I washed it so I gave it to him. It’s a miracle. It’s not on the floor as much because he understands the work involved.
This is absolutely adorable! If you want your kids to see someone their age or younger doing the laundry this great how to do laundry video is just what they need.
How to Wash Dishes
I have met people my age who don’t know how to wash dishes. I wish I was telling a lie here but I am not. If your kids can reach the sink they can help with the dishes. This could mean washing, drying, or loading and unloading the dishwasher. I want to challenge you to get the kids in the kitchen and get them helping you with dishes. You do not have to do it all alone. Start small and work on teaching them how to get a dish completely clean the right way.
How to Use a Knife
This will depend a lot on maturity but I think children are able to practice knife safety much younger than most parents believe. Start small and teach your kids how to safely use a knife. They will thank you when they get older.
Edible Education has a great video on knife safety taught by a chef. Knives similar to the ones mentioned in the video can be found on Amazon but you don’t need them.
How to Find Help
Like it or not, things happen. Make sure your kid knows how to call 9-1-1, what your number and address are, and how to communicate with someone to find help. This may seem like a skill everyone should know but I have seen kids get lost in stores and stand there terrified. It is so important to give your kids the ability to find help when they need it. If they can ask for help as kids, they will be more likely to ask for it when they get older.
As your kids get older, teach them where to find resources for something they are struggling with and how to contact their doctor to set up an appointment.
How to Speak to Doctors
Your child’s doctor is taking care of them. As a parent, you want the ability to speak into their situation and make sure your child gets the best care possible. I completely understand that. However, it is so important to teach your child to talk to their doctor about their concerns and ask their questions. This will help them as they get older to feel confident approaching their doctor without you.
As kids get older, teach them how to fill out their own medical paperwork and what their medical history is. This is a skill many adults don’t have.
How to Manage Money
If you do nothing else on this list, please teach your child how to write a budget! Let them budget their money for something they want. Give them a budget and let them plan a meal. When they are older give them an imaginary budget and have them balance it with real bill amounts. Teach them the difference between checking and savings accounts. I know these seem like basic abilities but it could make the difference in your child’s financial future.
Before your child graduates have an honest discussion about credit cards. The second they hit college they will be asked to apply for so many credit cards your head would spin.
Basic Car Maintenance
When a child is younger this may mean teaching them how to clean a car and pump gas. As they get older this will mean teaching them how to check tire pressure, change a tire, change windshield wipers, and check their oil. If you start the conversation when they are young it will be old news by the time they have a car of their own. ***Please practice safety when teaching children basic car maintenance***
Videos like the one above would be great to start with. You could also ask your mechanic for tips on teaching the kids. Some mechanics will help you learn to do these items yourself and how to teach your children.
How to Use Tools
I am a huge advocate of getting kids comfortable with tools at a young age. My son received his first tool kit when he was 3. He knew how to use a screwdriver completely by four. It’s a great way to work on fine motor skills but it is also a great skill to have! There are so many basic repairs your child will be able to make when you teach them to be comfortable with tools.
A fun way to start working with tools is to pick up a broken toaster. Give your child the screwdriver and challenge them to take it apart without using a hammer. If you have a younger child, supervise this so they don’t eat a screw or something. That said, this is a great way to keep a younger child busy for a long time. I know my son will spend hours taking apart a toaster if I get him one. (Ask around. People always have broken appliances.)
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