What Life Skills to Teach Children?
Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mamchenkov/448445182

Of late, I’ve been thinking about essential skills parents should teach their children and these 3 life skills kept occuring to me: how to talk, how to write and how to think or reason logically and critically (the last skill helps problem-solving). I’ve decided to share these tips in this article because as parents we’re trainers and teachers.

In an earlier post, I tried to explain both concepts but I honestly think we’re both trainers and teachers who can positively impact a generation. And I can say wholeheartedly that parents who live up to the billing can deliver a future of responsible adults, who know the right from the wrong.

There are really many skills you can teach a child, such as gardening, cooking, singing, etc but I honestly think the three skills I want to discuss in this post can impact greatly on the future of your child.

For instance, a child needs to know how to talk during a job interview to get a job, he (or she) also needs to know how to write to be able to compose a job-getting resume. Last but not the least, a child needs to know how to reason or think logically to be able to get solutions to seemingly difficult situations. All these three skills can help a child become independent of their parents and that is why they are on my scale of priority as far as parenting my children is concerned.

Pray, what are the Schools Doing?

I know you wanted to ask and I’d tell you straight off that even though my kids attend good schools, I’ve taken up this responsibility. I’m 100% responsible for how my kids turn out; I’m not going to hold any school responsible for that. If they do their part (which I know they do), fine, but I’ll also make out time for my kids and teach them how to talk, how to write and how to reason logically.

Teaching Your Child or Children How to Talk

Talking is an essential skill that children should be exposed to early in life. I don’t think the age of the child matters here because early exposure to such concepts would make a child develop fast. Teaching a child to talk can be achieved through the following:

  • Communicate to your child consistently from birth. Even though the child cannot speak at this point, the gestures, the intonations, the voice, will form the basis of speech development later in life.
  • Read to your child aloud. If you can do this daily, it would help a child get basic grammar and pronunciation skills.
  • Ask your child questions and give him (or her) an opportunity to respond. While the child is responding, please don’t interrupt. Wait till the end of the response to applaud the child (this boosts the child’s self-esteem and encourages him (or her) to want to talk more). After the applause, gently spot out the errors the child made, without affecting his (or her) self esteem. And allow the child correct him (or herself) in a fun way.
  • If the child is a teenager, you can even proceed to teaching public speaking skills and I’m crazy about this one because my parents never taught me this and the first time I had to speak in public, I was so afraid and felt like giving it all up. Luckily, I felt the fear but still delivered the speech. Afterwards, I realised it wasn’t as difficult as I’d envisaged it would be. So, it’s a must for my kids to be able to speak in public and I’m already teaching them. In fact, my daughter who is a teenager had to join the debate club in her school because of this. I encouraged her to and explained the reason to her. Luckily for me, she agreed and her first club meeting addressed the benefits of being in the debate club, and being able to speak in public was one of the benefits mentioned.

Teaching Your Child How to Write

I’m a prolific writer so I have a problem when people say they cannot write even a 500 word article. Much earlier in life, I think I read somewhere that reading makes a man but writing makes a perfect man. Yes, if you want to raise perfect children, teach them how to write. I know teaching toddlers how to write could include handwriting or their names while for teenagers, it would include writing short essays about themselves, their school, favourite teacher and what have you. For my teenager, I’ve often had to teach how to write essays (while explaining there is introduction, body and conclusion) but it’s been fun as I’ve had some success with this and will persist till I get her to do it the right way.

Teaching Your Child How to Think Logically and Critically

The ability to think logically and critically can help children solve problems later in life. I think it’s essential to teach children this skill as soon as you think they are ready. And some ways to do this include the following:

  • Letting a child know a problem you’re facing and think critically in a visible manner. Let the child see and hear you ask questions like "how can this problem be solved?", "why is this problem occuring at this time?", and "how do I know the best solution as well as other alternatives?"
  • Give your child an opportunity to answer those questions by asking him (or her). Test his (or her) critical thinking capability and let him know it's okay for him (or her) to challenge you on your beliefs, ideas and assertions.
  • Give your child the opportunity to ask questions and when he (or she does), answer him candidly and bluntly, providing examples and telling him how you arrived at the answers.
  • But, in cases where you have no idea, just tell him you don’t know the answer. But don't leave it there – brainstorm how you might find out the answer (with your child or children, as the case may be). And when all else fails, you might decide to take a walk in the woods with your child. According to Robert DeHaan, a Professor, who’s published many papers on creative thinking, “the best time to come to a solution to a complex, high-level problem is to go for a hike in the woods or do something totally unrelated and let your mind wander.” He continues by saying that creative problem solving depends on critical thinking skills and that research indicates that children who are well tutored in critical thinking are usually smarter, more creative and self - dependent.

There you have it, three essential skills you should teach your kids, as a parent. Do this wholeheartedly and prepare your kids for a bright future.

Summary and Take-Away

I’ve met adults who can’t express themselves well,each time they talk, I’ve also met adults who say they cannot write because they are accountants and their mind thinks in figures and I say these two skills are vital in life, no matter your profession,you’ve got to have them. I honestly don’t want my kids to be like them and that is why I’m committed to teaching them these skills.

In the same vein, I’ve met adults who can’t reason logically; they can’t do critical thinking. So, each time a difficult situation pops up in their lives, they look for others to think for them. I honestly don’t want my kids to turn out that way. I want to train them to be independent of me. I want to train them to be able to hold their own, anywhere they are in life. And that is why I’m passionate about teaching these skill sets to my kids.

What about you? Are you committed to making your child or children independent of you by teaching them these skills?