Parenting – Raise skilled kids
From handling emotions to public speaking, these skills will definitely go a long way towards helping your children lead happier lives.
From the moment they’re born, children are like sponges, soaking up knowledge in every waking moment. And as they grow, they continue to learn from books, friends and family, school, and different environments around them. But their most important teachers are mom and dad – you. Not only are you the most significant people in their life, but you’ll be with them from the moment they first draw breath, encouraging and supporting them every step of the way. Parents have a huge responsibility they have to raise well-rounded people. To help you make the most of this privileged position, here are essential skills you can teach your son or daughter, each of which will make a fundamental difference to their life.
In these debt-ridden times, helping your children look after their finances is very important. A good place to start is with their pocket money.
“Encourage them to save 25% of their pocket money,” says financial expert Adrian Kidd. “They’ll develop the savings habit early on and will be delighted to see their money earning regular interest.
“Most importantly, teach them to ask themselves whether they really need that new toy or game. If you help your children differentiate between what they want and what they actually need, you’ll take the pressure off them when they’re older, so they won’t buy things they can’t afford.”
Teach them the basics from an early age, and they’ll grow up cooking for themselves – and you, if you’re lucky. Ask them to weigh and measure ingredients for you, and teach them to chop soft foods like banana and avocado with a blunt knife. Teach them the difference between foods that are undercooked, burnt and ready to eat. Show them how to season food, mix a sauce and make gravy. Teach them to smell, taste and test food as they prepare it. Make pizzas with them. Buy readymade bases and letting them experiment with toppings.
Although it won’t take long for them to be more techno-savvy than you, in these high-tech days it’s a good idea to get them started from a young age. Try the following: Help them handle a mouse by teaching them what it’s for and how to use it. Sit with them as they learn. Put a coloured sticker on the left button to help differentiate it from the right. If your child is learning to spell, let them practise with a wordprocessing programme. Turn off the monitor and get the child to spell their name. This is a great way to practise touch-typing. Teach your child how to trouble shoot. Show them how to shut down and restart, use commands like Control + Alt + Delete.
Disagreements and arguments are part of everyday life. The best way for your kids to learn how to manage these is by your example. “Children watch what their parents do,” says Suzie Hayman from the UK-based family support group, Parentline Plus. “If you shout and scream, that’s what your kids will do. So you need to be able to talk, negotiate, listen and explain yourself – with other adults and your children. Then they’ll learn to manage conflict in the same way.”
Lately, schools help to develop public speaking skills in children from an early age, with regular show-and-tell sessions at school. Here are some tips to build your child’s confidence at speaking in public: Get them to stand up and speak to you by reciting a poem or just telling you about their day. Extend this so they tell other family members about a recent sporting event or school activity. Get them to write down what they are going to say – this helps them to plan their speech and become familiar with the words. Encourage them to look up and speak with confidence. Tell them to practise speaking to a mirror first – a technique used by many great public speakers. If they have to speak at school, get them to focus on the back wall, so the audience doesn’t seem so scary.
Powerful emotions like anger, jealousy or fear can feel out of control and overwhelming for young children. Try not to tell your kids they’re naughty or bad for feeling angry or jealous, say, of their sister’s new toy. And let them know it’s fine to be scared of some things. “If they ’re really scared of something, it’s important for you to say, ‘I can see you’re scared, but I’ll show you there’s nothing to be frightened of,’” says Hayman. “If your toddler is terrified of dogs, don’t whisk them away – it confirms that they should be scared. Instead, find a friendly dog and gently introduce the child to it.”
BEING SAFE ON THE ROADS
One child is hurt on our roads every few minutes. To ensure that it doesn’t happen to yours, talk to them about road safety. Always cross the road at the safest place, like a footbridge or a zebra crossing, and explain why you are crossing there. Teach them these three words before crossing any road: stop, look and listen. Practise on quiet roads near your home, first crossing together, then letting them lead you across. Never let your kid cross a road by themselves. Let them know that an adult must always hold their hand. Children aged between 12 to 16 are most at risk of being killed or seriously injured by traffic accidents. Make sure they take road safety seriously and keep talking to them about the dangers. Ensure that whenever your child is on the road, they’re constantly aware of what’s happening around them and aren’t distracted by mobile phones or friends.
MAKING GOOD FRIENDS
Friendships are a great source of strength for children and help them develop the social skills and confidence they’ll need for later life. Some children find making friends easier than others, but if your son or daughter needs a little encouragement, there’s plenty you can do to help. Teach them social skills and sociable behaviour. For example, explain how to understand verbal and non-verbal clues, like someone smiling at them. They may be misinterpreting these clues and missing the opportunity to make friends. Teach her basic social rules, like not to snatch things or hit others, and how to share and co-operate. Make your child’s friends welcome in your home. Don’t judge their choices too harshly or make them play with children you choose. Find local activities where your child can make friends outside of school, like a drama group, gymnastics, football or swimming lessons.
PRACTISING GOOD HYGIENE
This may seem trivial, but teaching kids to stay clean and smell good will have a good effect on their friendships, education, career and romantic prospects in later life, as well as avoid infection when they’re young. Start by making bath time a fun, integral part of family life by singing songs and playing with toys.
Let your kids play outside, but explain why you need to clean soiled bodies and clothes. Encourage them to maintain their own hygiene and let them help with laundry and housework. Let them choose their own deodorants, shampoo and shower gel too.