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5 Basic Life Skills to Teach Your Children

Expectations.  We rise and fall to the expectations or lack thereof, that’s put upon us.  This is especially true for children.

I think it’s safe to say that we get what we expect out of our children.  If we don’t expect and demand our kids to be respectful and reverent, to honor their parents as God commands, then what happens?  We get disrespectful, arrogant punks who behave just like they were taught to be.  (And for some reason everyone is shocked at such behavior.)

On the other hand, if we expect and demand respect from our children, what usually happens?  They grow up being respectful and reverent.

Left to our own desires, we all want to pick the easy, lazy way in life.  It doesn’t take a team of scientist to show us this, just have a handful of kids and you’ll find it out first hand!  How many times have you heard parents mumble and grumble about how their kids won’t do anything around the house?  Parents complain that their high school graduate living in the basement won’t do their own laundry so the parents do it.  Parents complain that no one will help around the house, but let’s be honest, whose fault is that?

Parents who make these complaints are the ones who have made the mistake.  Instead of teaching, expecting and demanding their children to help around the house, they have enabled them to be lazy and worthless.  Allowing a kid to sleep most of the day, play video games and be waited on, helps no one, no matter how loving you think it is.

Kids are amazing.  I’m amazed at the ability of my 2-year-old.  She helps sweep the floor and vacuum, takes the laundry out of the dryer, helps clear out the dishwasher, and picks up her toys.  She doesn’t do any of this perfectly and I don’t expect her to.  She’s 2.  But I expect her to help, cheerfully.  And the majority of the time, she wants to and does.

As children progress and mature, our expectations will grow and change.  On the morning of his 4th birthday, the first thing my nephew, Zeke, said was, “Now I can water the chickens.”  He was excited about his new responsibility!

If you think about your grandparents or great-grandparents, what they were expected to do at a young age is completely different than what is expected out of kids today.  My grandpa was given a rifle and told to go find dinner for the family at age 10.

A 10-year-old now?  Left alone at home and someone might call the cops on you.  Our cultures expectations of a child are extremely low and therefore kids don’t achieve much these days, or at least, not what they are fully capable of.

The great news?  As a parent, you set the expectations for your children.  It is you who determines what you expect out of your child, from a young toddler, until the day they leave your house.  Expectations must be taught and communicated to your child.  And as you know, every child is different!  But nonetheless, you can still teach and expect your child to help around the house.

Though every family is different, here are 5 basic life skills to teach your children by the time they turn 10.

1) How to make a basic meal

Your child doesn’t have to be a trained chef to be in the kitchen.  Teach them how to make basic meals for themselves.  A few examples may be grilled cheese or a cold sandwich, such as tuna or egg salad, oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a simple green salad, hard-boiled eggs, scrambled eggs or even pancakes.  If they can read, teach them how to follow a recipe.  Have them practice by having them in charge of making lunch for the family!

2) How to do a load of laundry

Before you get worried that your child is going to ruin an expensive piece of clothing, have them start with a basic load of bath towels.  You really can’t mess those up and if for some odd reason there is a mess up, it’s just towels!  Kids should be able to do this simple task from washing, drying to folding and putting away.  (I’ve heard my aunt with 6 kids complain because she has so much laundry to do.  But I have little sympathy!  Her kids are teenagers and very capable of doing a simple load of laundry!)

3) How to grow their own food

This is one of the most important life skills yet it is hardly taught anymore!  Think how crazy it is that most parents do not teach their children the most basic necessity, how to feed themselves!  Sure, we are blessed with grocery stores and therefore don’t feel the need to teach our children this life skill.  But seriously, why wouldn’t you teach your child something as easy and basic as growing their own food?  You don’t have to have a huge garden to do this.  Get a pot, soil and a package of seeds.  Plant a tomato plant on the deck.  Kids love seeing the fruit of their labor in their hands!

4) How to interact with other human beings

For some kids, this comes very natural.  For others, not so much!  Some children are shy, while others have never meant a stranger!  Either way, teaching children the basic skill to interact by smiling and talking to someone is a must.  Obviously, kids shouldn’t go off to talk to a stranger by themselves, but being able to acknowledge and have a conversation with an adult is a rarity these days.  My teenage cousins mow my grandparents yard for them.  But guess what?  They mow the yard and leave without talking to my grandparents.  It is hurtful to my grandparents that these girls won’t take the time to stop in and say hi.

5) How to clean and be organized

No matter how much your kids fight you on this, teach them how to be clean and organized at a young age!  I’ve never heard anyone, from roommates in college to married couples who complain because the other person is clean and organized, have you?  On the other hand, it’s common to hear people mumble and grumble about a lazy, messy, dirty roommate or even spouse!  Keeping things clean and tidy is not necessarily about you, but it shows that you are sensitive and aware of other people who live (and work) with you.  Expect things from your children like making their bed each morning, picking up their room, and putting their clothes away each night.  Teach them how to vacuum, sweep and clean a bathroom sink or toilet.

What are your expectations for your children?  What are life skills that you want your children to learn and know?  Start with the 5 basic skills I listed above and add to them as you see fit in your own specific family!

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