No sane person in the world would want any harm to come across their child. For parents, it is only natural to shield their kids from various vices of the society. Sometimes it leads to over-protectiveness that ends up having an opposite effect. While you are shielding your child from the clutches of the evil, you can unwittingly make them completely dependent upon you.Do we admire our kids if they become capable of doing their own laundry? Click To Tweet
Take my nieces for example. They adore frosted cupcakes and whenever they come around on the weekend, they want me to bake them a batch. Initially, I was too scared to let the tiny sisters come into my perfectly shiny kitchen with their muddy crocs and curious eyes. Weeks passed by… Dozens of batches were made and gobbled up. I dreaded the dirty dishes that would pile up. I had to do something. I made up my mind and next time I invited them to help me bake.
After several sessions and a couple of broken bowls, they have become experts at whipping up a batter and simple frosting. When the cupcakes are in the oven, they clean up the kitchen with my help. In the end, we have a sparkling clean kitchen, gooey cupcakes and not to mention, some amazing life skills!
We are pleased with our kids when they get straight A’s and ace a math test. Do we admire them if they become capable of doing their own laundry? Academic excellence takes you places without a doubt. At the same time, strong life skills are equally important. They are a necessity to lead an independent life. If you want your kids to grow up into self-made, successful adults who can stand on their own feet, help them learn the following essential life skills.
1. Preparing Their Own (Simple) Meals
I have a vivid childhood memory that seems as if it happened just yesterday. I woke up late on a school day. In panic, I ran downstairs to the kitchen to find my parents when it occurred to me that my dad was out of town for work. When I couldn’t find my mom anywhere, I made a beeline for my parents’ bedroom.
I slowly opened the door and saw her lying in bed, sick with fever. My mom beckoned me, and I went up to her. She told me she was too tired to make me breakfast and apologized for making me miss school. That was the first I fried eggs and buttered my toast. I was 11 years old but didn’t know where the butter knife was kept! From that day onward, I’d try to fix meals and pitch in the kitchen. My mom was delighted!I was 11 years old but didn't know where the butter knife was kept! Click To Tweet
The point is, you never know when something can happen. If you have to rush out in an emergency or fall sick, your child should know how to prepare a simple meal. With your help, they will gain confidence and be competent enough to pack their own lunches when needed.
2. Waking Up on Time
I once had a roommate whose parents had to call her to wake her up from a deep slumber. We used to call her sleeping beauty. In her case, there was no prince though. Just two dead-tired parents in a constant turmoil. By the time your child is 12, they must learn to wake themselves up, brush their teeth and get dressed. How long can a parent act as an alarm clock?
I have missed school because my mom was sick, and I was too dependent on her. I could have woken up by myself, get dress, prepare and have breakfast and be ready for the school bus. It is important for kids to create a consistent rhythm and train their minds and bodies to wake up in the morning. It will only take a few days to set the biological clock. Consistency is the key!
3. Doing Their Laundry
As children grow older, they must learn to do their own laundry. Start small and go easy on them. Don’t overburden them with piles of dirty towels and pants. Initially, tell them to help you out – ask them to fold and stack the clothes once they are dried. Tell them about the detergent you use and how much is needed for one round. Teach them how to use the washing machine.
The beauty of having a washing machine is one never has to do their own laundry by hand. But what if you need to get stains off, have a small load or be without a washing machine. Start them on small items, show them how to wash their handkerchiefs, socks, undergarments or other small items. They will learn the steps in washing clothes by hand i.e. soak in water mixed with the right amount of detergent, scrub and agitate (brush if required), rinse and repeat until soap is removed then hang to dry.
Once they get a hang of it, they can do laundry on weekends, or when needed. Once they are off to college, they will be confident enough to carry out laundry routinely, and you won’t have to worry about them wearing a stinky pair of socks.
4. Doing Dishes and Cleaning Up
Children must be aware of their surroundings and how to clean up after themselves. Be it changing sheets of their beds or clearing up the dining table, they must learn to participate. Messy, untidy kitchens are unhygienic, and it is unfair on a person who has to do all the dishes by themselves.
In my house, we had turns. Wednesday was my day while the rest of the days were divided among my siblings and parents. At first, my mom would ask us to wash our own plates, glasses, and cutlery after dinner. When she was confident that we won’t break her favorite porcelain cups, she assigned us days. It helped me tremendously when I was in college and later, when I had my own family to look after.
You can ask the same to change their of beddings. Get the kids to change the bedsheets, pillow and duvet covers. Start by asking them to strip their own beds. Make sure they put the old bedding in the washing machine or laundry basket. Next, show them how to put fresh bedding on, to tuck them in the right way and lay them out properly. Have a time table or mark on the calendar, when they need to do this. They will soon get the hang it.Children must be aware of their surroundings and how to clean up after themselves Click To Tweet
5. Talking to Adults
As a child, I loved striking up lengthy conversations with adults which I am sure most of them wanted to avoid. However, these exchanges helped me gain confidence and by the time I was 11, I could easily set up appointments over phone and order dinner.
Many children feel uncomfortable talking to adults. Parents, you won’t always be able to accompany them to a dentist or call their doctors. You can start at restaurants, ask them to give their own orders to the waiter. With time, they will be familiar with the idea and be more comfortable.
6. The Art of Organization
Do you ever had a nightmare of a colleague who just wouldn’t organize their things on the desk? Organization is one of the most common skills lacking in people. To my dismay, my husband never puts the shoes and towels back in their place. I have to remind him every single time! By the age 12, children should learn the art of organization. It is a problem-solving strategy.
Teach them to place the shoes in their proper spot, organize their closet and toys and neatly stack the books on the shelf. Another important aspect that comes under organization is time management. Completing homework before deadlines and reaching school on time are the basic steps. Punctuality comes in basic etiquette; arriving fashionably late to parties isn’t always polite.Organization is one of the most common skills lacking in people. Click To Tweet
7. Managing Budget
I have never been good at saving money. The day I receive money is the day I decide to splurge. You can imagine how the rest of the month must go. Well, I am going to teach my son how to budget by asking him to manage his allowance.
Whenever a child demands a toy or a snack, ask whether they have enough money to buy. Take them along with you to do grocery and let them know the monthly expenses. Teach them the importance of savings and how it can help on a rainy day. Buy them a piggy bank for starters. It will encourage them to save some bucks!
8. Basic First-aid
Children love to play around and are prone to little cuts and injuries. Teach them the basic steps of first-aid such as treating a wound, applying antiseptic and antibiotic ointment, and putting on bandages.
They must know how to handle things until further help arrives or when someone is able to help. Make sure they don’t freak out when they see blooding oozing from a wound. Also, remind them to let any adults know if they had a cut, at school, at home or anywhere no matter how small.Does your child know how to treat a wound? Click To Tweet
9. Learning to Navigate
We were taught how to read maps and use the compass in school. But you can start them young by drawing a basic map of your house and ask them to find hidden treasures as a game. They will then learn to not only read the map but be able to navigate themselves to the different location in the house. To make it more exciting, if the space allows it, use the garden or local park.
With modern gadgets such as smartphones and GPS, all you need when it comes to getting directions is to ask, but being able to decide which is the best way, have a sense of direction, knowing where you are and being able to plan and visualise your route to the destination is a skill you need for life.
You may enjoy cooking for your kid right now. But I tell you, when they are in mid-20s and still want you to serve breakfast and dinner, it wouldn’t be peachy at all. Don’t take me wrong. I am not asking you force your child to make their own meals. However, a little help here and there can go a long way.
If you think there are other skills that every 12 years old ought to know, please help by sharing them here. We would love to hear from you.
Edited by Samuel Tan