A few months ago I had an interesting conversation with my children on the drive to school.
Rhys started asking me about when he’s older and not living at home any more. He was worried that he wouldn’t know how to do certain things, and so I promised him that we would teach him everything he needs to know.
We talked about all the different life skills we would make sure he knows by the time he’s old enough to leave our family home.
Here are some of those life skills that I think our children need to know to thrive on their own as they get older.
How to treat other people
One of the most important life skills I think we can teach our children is how to treat other people with kindness and with respect.
For me this starts with simple manners, like saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, which we can teach our children from a very young age.
After that we need to lead by example and show our children how to be considerate of other people’s feelings, to think about points of view that are different from our own and to be kind to everyone.
How to treat themselves
As well as teaching our children to be kind to others, I think it’s incredibly important that we also teach them to be kind to themselves.
Knowing how important it is to take time to look after themselves will help them so much when they step out on their own.
So let them see you put yourself first sometimes.
Take them with you to do a yoga session or for a run in the park, to teach them about taking care of their health.
Make time each week to slow the pace down and read, paint, and relax.
How to care for their clothes
Knowing how to wash and care for clothes is a key skill that our children need to learn.
You can start from an early age teaching them about separating items to do a dark wash or a lights wash. I know you can just chuck everything in together with a colour catcher sheet, but I think it’s still worth teaching our children about how different items might need to be washed separately.
As they get older children can learn about what different care labels mean.
There are still some that I have to google when I see them, but children can learn quite quickly to recognise the labels for what temperature to wash clothes at and whether or not an item can be tumble-dried.
Basic cooking skills
From an early age we can get our children in the kitchen with us, learning basic skills.
Nerys loves making her own sandwiches at lunch time and helping my husband chop up vegetables when he makes a bolognese.
There are so many skills you can teach in the kitchen while you have fun together.
Baking fairy cakes teaches them to measure out ingredients, to understanding techniques like creaming butter and sugar together, and how to be safe around the hot oven.
As they get a bit older you can teach your child simple recipes like scrambled eggs on toast, pasta dishes and homemade pizza.
How to handle their finances
Knowing how to take care of money is a vital life skill for children to learn.
It can be harder to teach children about money these days, when so much of the time we pay with cards or do our shopping online.
So make a point of using cash on a regular basis when you’re shopping with your children.
Even better, let them have their own money in a wallet and let them choose to buy a little something with it when you’re out in town.
We also look at price labels when we shop together, and my children are starting to understand that sometimes a pack of 4 chocolate bars can be better value than a single bar. They get quite excited when they realise this means we can buy more chocolate!
These are some of the life skills that I’m working on teaching my children, so that when they’re old enough to leave home they should not only be able to cope, but really thrive.
What other skills do you think are important for our children to learn to set them up for independence?