If we teach our children these skills now, it will provide a solid foundation for them to build upon as they navigate life into adulthood. Our job is to raise our children into competent, compassionate, thankful adults.
When I began to teach my children these skills, I was thinking ahead. I thought about what ailed me about the teenagers and adults of this world: Ungrateful towards their parents…see #1. Laziness…see #2. Smelling like a walking gym bag…see #4.
It’s never too early to teach our children how to be better teenagers and adults.
What we teach our children today will stick with them; it will be their norm. We are building their foundation, so why not incorporate skills that will help them be better adults now while they are still little sponges. It’s easier to instill good habits versus eliminate bad habits.
- Expressing gratitude towards YOU
My children are great at thanking others, but I noticed this did not translate into thanking me. I was getting frustrated when they didn’t thank me for taking them to Chuck E. Cheese or the park. My rational is that if I don’t teach them to thank me, who will?
With some prompting, they now almost automatically thank me for anything I do for them. You can even teach your child to thank you for making dinner if that is important to you. Remember, you are in charge of what you chose to teach your child.
- Helping with chores
I have pictures of my son using a hand held vacuum at 2 (see below). With 4 kids and a husband who does NOT clean, I knew I needed to start young.
I am trying to avoid being that mom who is constantly mad that her kids aren’t helping, so I am teaching them now at a very young age that chores are part of being a family and contributing…a part of every day life.
- Cleaning up after themselves
All children can do this with a little guidance. My boys (6, 5, and 3 ½) all throw their own trash away, put their shoes in the shoe bin, put their backpacks away, and put their dirty clothes away.
It takes reminding for my 3 1/2 and 5 year-old, but they do it. Eventually, they will all do it by themselves.
My 6 year-old often forgets to clean up his mess after eating, so when he forgets, he has to pick up 5 items around the house as a consequence. He doesn’t forget as often.
- Wash their bodies properly
You may be laughing, but I know you have smelled the not-so-sweet musk of everything nasty that is known as the stench of puberty. It’s real, and I want to avoid the smell and the awkward conversation required to eradicate that smell.
From the age of 2, I have taught all my boys to wash ALL their parts…especially the future foul-smelling ones. By the age of 2, all my boys learned to wash their armpits, penis, and butt. You may think this is silly, but think about it.
If this is part of their norm, every day life now, I can avoid the conversations later. I’m not delusional; I know I will still have sweaty, smelly boys in my house. I am just laying the ground work now, so the conversations are not as frequent and less awkward later.
To me this is a given, BUT as I spend more time with kids outside our family, I am realizing that manners are being lost. I started teaching my boys please and thank you from an early age.
My 18 month-old says please and thank you, and when my other son was non-verbal at 2, he still signed please and thank you. Remember, you are instilling these skills in your child early to help them become a better adult.
Manners go a long way in life, and I do believe a well-mannered child will receive more grace when he or she is struggling to listen or obey in the classroom or anywhere for that matter. Politeness translates into every area of life and will even help with future careers.
We are raising the future women and men of our world, the molders and shapers of community and life. Let’s instill a solid foundation for our children now, so they can be competent, compassionate, thankful adults later in life.
Children are amazing! With proper expectations, they always seem to rise to the occasion.
Next week I will be posting 5 more non-academic skills and will link it here.