Teaching Children Life Skills

Father and daughter washing dishes

Just as learning how to read and write is vital to functioning in society, mastering life skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and displaying empathy, is also crucial to operating and advancing in our complex world. Life skills are abilities that help one cope with situations and challenges that arise each day. Starting to learn life skills at a young age can encourage individuals to translate knowledge, attitudes, and values into actual real-life abilities (Manjunatha, 2011).

Children as young as 2 or 3 years old can begin to learn life skills. Routines and schedules can promote self-control and concentration for these toddlers. Creating and maintaining a bedtime routine, like taking a bath, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, reading a book, and turning off the lights at about the same time each day, can be essential to developing a sense of security and establishing the framework for a child’s ability to build on learned skills.  For a 3- or 4- or 5-year-old, organizing shoes and clothes (Bright Horizons Education Team, 2019) or being asked to choose between two appropriate responses (e.g., Would you like to wear red or blue socks today?) can teach self-control and decision-making. Children as young as 3 years old are able to perform basic cooking techniques, like mixing and stirring or other basic skills like helping to put groceries away or setting the table. Children as young as 6 years old can start to help with daily cleaning chores like loading and unloading the washer, vacuuming, or even helping to plan healthy family meals. These tasks can promote organizational skills and creative or critical thinking abilities. Furthermore, incorporating younger children into everyday tasks not only helps them learn skills but provides parents and children opportunities to spend time together. In addition to contributing at home, adolescents and teens often get part-time or after-school jobs, which can teach interpersonal skills, money management, and responsibility. Life skills can develop through intentional daily activities and repeated application as children grow and reach adulthood (Bright Horizons Education Team, 2019).

Life-skills lessons can guide children towards suitably dealing with problems, communicating, and coping with emotions and stress (Manjunatha, 2011). If children are given opportunities to learn basic skills, by the time they become adults, these individuals may be more prepared to manage time, be financially savvy, and maintain good health and hygiene (Duncan, 2017).

Please find below lists of core life skills and essential life skills.

Top 10 core life skills:

  1. Decision-making
  2. Problem-solving
  3. Creative thinking
  4. Critical thinking
  5. Effective communication
  6. Interpersonal relationship skills
  7. Self-awareness
  8. Empathy
  9. Coping with emotions
  10. Coping with stress
Essential life skills:

  • Health and Hygiene
  • Time Management
  • Money Management
  • Cleaning
  • Laundry
  • Employability
  • Organization
  • Leadership
  • Listening
  • Writing

References

Bright Horizons Education Team. (2019, June 18). Teaching kids life skills: 7 essential life skills to help your child succeed. Retrieved from https://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/teaching-kids-life-skills-seven-essential-life-skills-to-succeed

Duncan, A. (2017, July 6). Life skills to start teaching your kids at an early age. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/teaching-children-life-skills-early-4144959

Manjunatha, N., & Saddichha, S. (2011). Universal mental health program: An extension of life skills education to promote child mental health. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 53(1), 77-78.

Skills You Need. (n.d.). Life skills. Retrieved from https://www.skillsyouneed.com/general/life-skills.html

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