There is one thing ALL kids are skilled at and that is knowing how to play. But will that get them where you, as their parent, want them to be when they grow up?
While the world around us may have changed since we were kids...a little bit harsher, a little bit scarier...there are still basic life skills all children should have learned well before they enter high school in order to increase their chances of being productive adults later on in their lives.
Here are SEVEN life skills you child should understand and fully use as they enter elementary school and beyond:
A child should not only show respect for themselves but as well as others. Knowing the boundaries of proper behavior not only when a child is by themselves, but also when they are around others show a child's understanding of the proper social cues. Saying things like "please" and "thank you" and patiently waiting their turn when in line for activities lets others know the child cares enough about others to be courteous at all times. Saying no to bad choices shows the child also has enough self-respect to risk what others may think by them standing up for what they believe in. This life skill helps develop a strong moral compass for future adult behavior.
Children should be encouraged to overcome any hesitation to try positive, new adventures. Some kids fear the unknown, what others might think of them, or even worry people will laugh at them. A child who exudes confidence will not be seen by others as a "victim" and is better able to handle negative situations like bullying, peer pressure, and every day stressors. This life skill strengthens a child's inner resolve to overcome daily challenges.
We're all human. Every day life can stress us out. But what might seem trivial to a grown up can sometimes overwhelm a child to the point they lash out in anger and frustration. Learning how to control those negative emotions and redirect them into positive action will help a child to feel more in control of their "world". It will allow him/her to use age-appropriate logic to handle most situations without negatively affecting themselves or those around them. This life skill teaches children not to let their anger get the better of them as well as ways to diffuse potential difficult situations.
Some parents today are eager to give in when their child discovers things aren't going their way. Being overlooked for the school play, not being chosen for the baseball team, not coming in first place in the spelling bee. These are all "life lessons" for children to learn how to properly handle disappointments. If everything is given to them, how will they know what to do when LIFE throws them a curve ball later on? It's those times when children have "failed" at something that gives them the opportunity to see just how strong a spirit lies within them. Getting up and dusting themselves off after a disappointment, and trying even harder next time, encourages children to never settle for less than their best effort. This life skill teaches children to continue to strive for excellence in everything they do and to not settle for a mediocre life.
5) HELPING OTHERS
Young children can often get caught up in the land of "me, me, me" which can sometimes exclude others. In these times of instant gratification, showing children the benefit of showing care and concern for others help them to understand they are part of a much larger community. Everything from helping with chores around the house or raking leaves for a neighbor to collecting items for senior centers and homeless shelters instill an attitude of courtesy for those in need. This life skill teaches compassion for fellow human beings and encourages a higher level of tolerance for the world around them.
6) SETTING PROPER GOALS
Life can be hard, even for young children, and the ability to set age-appropriate goals enables children to create a sense of order to their lives. Whether it's putting aside a portion of their weekly allowance for a much wanted toy or simply making homework time a priority over TV time each night creates the foundation to make the right choices later on when the goals will become even bigger. This life skill can be used in everything from making an A on a spelling test to choosing the right path for a successful college career and beyond.
Probably the hardest thing to teach a child is to have integrity in everything they do. The concept of saying no to your best friend who is making bad choices, or even standing up for the kid being picked on by the schoolyard bully can be daunting to explain. Children want to fit in and having the strength of character to stand out for what is right can be tough. This life skill is the core to who your children will become as adults and more importantly, what legacy they will leave behind for others when they're gone.
There are many more life skills all children should learn before they leave home, but those listed above give each child the best chance at becoming the best version of themselves possible. Programs like the martial arts encourage and help instill these types of life skills in all students, young and old, and are certainly worth looking into if you are wanting a supportive atmosphere for what you are already trying to teach your own children at home.
KICKS Kids Club