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Life skills for kids: They can't leave home without them!

Updated on November 6, 2011
Mowing the lawn. A life skill, indeed.
Mowing the lawn. A life skill, indeed. | Source

28 things kids need to know

Parenthood: it’s not for wimps. As any one with offspring knows, the day your first child is born is the day the pressure to perform on the parental stage begins in earnest.

In the mad rush that is their childhood, it’s easy to focus on school performance and extracurricular activities, worrying more about math and reading scores than all those little details that go into rounding out a person. Here, then, is a roundup of some of those other skills that schools just don’t cover. Some are serious, some not so much. Maybe you can add a few to your parental to-do list to, you know, cover before you let your sweet kids loose in the world.

Consider teaching your kids how to:

  • Set a proper table - Forks on the left, knives and spoons on the right, napkins, glasses, the whole shebang.
  • Change a tire – I’ve heard of parents who have required their kids be able to change a tire before they can get their license. It could be a life saver. Maybe they’re on to something?
  • Prepare 5 complete meals - This skill will get a kid through almost an entire week without eating out. Heating up TV dinners doesn’t count. If they know the basics of food preparation, they should never starve.
  • Balance a checkbook
  • Back up a trailer – Granted, this is not an everyday need for most of us. But I’ve learned the hard way that this particular talent can save one a smidgen of humiliation when there’s an audience watching.
  • Operate power tools – Why? Because they’re fun. I once jack hammered the asphalt on my driveway into a gazillion pieces and it was one of the most satisfying Saturdays ever. Drills, air compressors, nail guns, skill saws. Knowing how to use them safely can help keep a household in one piece.
  • Ride a bike – Exercise and transportation all in one neat little package.
  • Play chess – Strategy and drama on a board. Plus, it can be enjoyed without batteries or electricity.
  • Swim
  • Understand the rules of baseball – …And football and basketball. Even those who are not sports nuts will find that an ability to converse coherently about athletic-related matters can help with social acceptance and advancement in many circles.
  • Learn how to throw a football – See above. The same principle applies.
  • Parallel park - Knowing how to do this properly now could save thousands on property damage and insurance premiums later.
  • Sort/wash/fold the laundry – Bonus points for putting it away.
  • Start a campfire and pitch a tent – True survival skills.
  • Appreciate family – Crucial to life satisfaction, methinks.
  • Help without being asked – Do the dishes, mow the lawn, make someone happy.
  • Exercise online discretion – If it doesn’t feel like a good idea, it probably isn’t.
  • Use mature tattoo judgment – That gargantuan sunrise in the small of the back is unlikely to look this hot in 30 years. Same goes for piercings and plugs.
  • Combat boredom without electronics - Oy vay. This one is brutal at our house. Read a book! Walk the dog! Anything! Just turn off the battery-operated devices for a few minutes.
  • Play outside - This goes hand-in-hand with boredom busting. Outside is a good place. Go there.
  • Spend less than you earn - For the love of a high credit score, emphasize the importance of sticking to a budget.
  • Address an envelope and mail a letter – By hand, the old-fashioned way. It’s still an important skill.
  • Write a thank you note – I have to hammer this one with my kids all the time. I just hope they remember to do it when they’re on their own.
  • Apologize – So sorry I had to mention this one. See? It’s not so hard.
  • Volunteer – It’s good for the soul, and it keeps us connected to the other citizens of our world.
  • Floss – And brush. Those chompers need to last.
  • Communicate with the opposite sex – Respectfully and confidently.
  • Practice gratitude – Approaching each day with a spirit of thankfulness can put a different spin on life’s disappointments. Giving your kids that ability is a true gift.

What’s not on this list? Probably a thousand other important things. Feel free to add your own ideas to the comments!


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    • karenfriesen profile image

      karenfriesen 6 years ago from West Coast, US

      If only I were better at enforcing that one. Hmmmm....

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Great tips and 100% true. If only more parents taught these life skills ... As a mom of 4, I especially appreciate the "combat boredom without electronics." Rated up!