The importance of teaching life skills to your child

When your child was a baby, there would have been an overwhelming sense to protect as well as to do everything for him/her. It is only natural as your child would have been too young to change diapers, dress up or eat on his/her own. As your child grows up, you will see a ‘I want to do it myself’ attitude emerging and you should encourage it and start teaching practical life skills to your child. Instead of a rigid parenting style that gives your child no choices, teaching him/her life skills will help your child be more independent as he/she grows into adulthood.

Why are Life skills so important for your child?

Life skills which are physical activities and problem solving behaviours help your child in the growth of motor skills, cognitive development, self-confidence and in the development of his/her own personality, self-esteem and, above all, independence. Life skills can be acquired via teaching or direct experience by letting your child handle basic everyday situations. For instance, children as young as 2 years old can be offered choices, to make their own decisions.

Definition of Life Skills

The World Health Organisation describes Life Skills as “abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life”

How you can help your child develop practical life skills?

Get your toddler to help in simple household chores

There are so many basic life skills that your child can pick up by just tagging along and helping you as you go about doing your daily chores. For instance, your child can follow you to the grocery store to choose some of the cooking items. Then, he/she can help you with the cooking. Your child can snap the beans and help put them in the right bowls. He/She can help you fold the clothes, water the plants and do some gardening with you. Of course, you have to show the way. Children are good imitators. They can pick up the life skills easily without these skills being forced upon them.

Help your child be independent

Many 2 year olds would want to brush their teeth themselves. Encourage it, and when your child has the necessary dexterity, you can teach him/her how to brush properly. If your child insists on dressing or putting on shoes by Valuee11, allow it. If he/she wants to help you set the table, start by letting your child set his/her own place on the table using child-safe cutlery. Keep books and toys at a height that is accessible to your child so he/she can reach them easily without having to keep asking you.

Teach responsibility

Your child may be young but that shouldn’t stop you from teaching him/her responsibility. For instance, by telling your child consistently that he/she has to return the toys to their original place after playing with them, your child will develop a sense of ownership and discipline.

By insisting that your child keeps to certain timings like not playing before mealtime or bedtime, you can help your child develop a sense of order and learn the value of time. It all starts with the small everyday things they do.

Inculcate the importance of hygiene

Young children don’t think twice about sneezing into their hands and reaching into the cookie jar right after. It is important to teach them to sneeze onto their elbows and not onto their hands or into the air. Tell your child the importance of washing hands before meals, after going to the toilet or playing with the family pet. Teach your child to keep his/her hands out of his/her mouth and nose and not to bite his/her nails as it is unsightly as well as unhygienic.

Give your child the freedom to try

Encourage your child every time he/she tries something new. If you are too overprotective it will be difficult for your child to learn new things. Always resist the temptation to jump in. At the same time don’t push your child away when he/she comes to you for reassurance. Expect a lot of mistakes. Your child will figure out things correctly only if you allow him/her to make some mistakes and learn from them

Be patient, children need to do things over and over again to improve. Give your child the love and support and motivation he/she needs and soon your child will develop the necessary life skills and confidence to do things on his/her own.

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