Simply put, life skills are what you need in place in order to do life well. For each child that may mean something a little different, but the whole idea causes us, as parents or as teachers or any other adult who has influence in a child’s life, to contemplate how we can make that happen for the child we love.
Here are some steps to help you put things in place to give your child more opportunity to have the skills he or she needs for life.
Sit and think about where the child is right now in their development. Make a list of some of the things they can do well.
- Fold towels or other laundry
- Sort dirty clothes, put them properly in the washer and dryer
- Clean bathrooms
- Make a sandwich
- Cook a meal
- Create a document on the computer
- Play with a younger child
Contemplate what life skills YOU need right now to function well. Make a list of life skills you think your child needs now and will need in the future. For example, go through the course of your day, your week, your month. What skills do you need? Did you think of these:
- Getting a shower and all that is needed for personal hygiene (grooming, teeth brushing, etc.)?
- Prepping, cooking & cleaning up from meals?
- Keeping a tidy room and personal things in order?
- Prioritizing your task list?
- Organizing your time?
- Communicating well to others?
- Creating a meal plan and grocery list?
- Navigating how to get where you need to go (work, store, relatives, etc.)?
Pick the top three things you would like to train your child to do from the list in #2
- Create a plan to teach one of the three skills (one-at-a-time) to your child.
- You may want to use charts to communicate the steps to accomplish the skill.
- You may want to make a digital recording of those steps and have your child listen to it several times a day.
- You may want to find books or children’s movies that teach the skill.
- You will want to walk through each of the steps with your child as many times as it takes for them to understand what to do.
- Be positive and encouraging in your teaching.
- Remember the concept of INPUT – INPUT - INPUT – enough information has to be inputted in order for your child to receive and store the information in his or her brain and then have it available to use. For some children, this process can be rather quick. Some of our children need more input. Don’t give up. Keep teaching. Keep encouraging.
Praise your child for any accomplishments all along the way.
When they seem to be well on their way to understanding the skill you have been teaching, pick another skill on which to work.
If you see your child slipping in the efficiency of the skill you know they have learned, take time to remind them of the steps. You can pull out the chart you used to teach them the skill. You can have them listen to the recording again. We all need refreshers from time to time. Don’t feel like they or you have failed. Just lovingly put reminders in place in a positive manner.
Putting on your calendar a time to review your child’s skills is a good idea. Maybe you will do this every three months or six months. It is so easy to get caught up in the “tyranny of the urgent” of each day. Having a periodic reminder to check on your child’s progress will bring it to your attention regularly.
These tips are brought to you by Tom and Julie Meekins of MarchForthFamily.com. If you need support in teaching life skills to your child, we would love to help. We invite you to consider a Get Acquainted Call with us. You can find out more information here: www.MarchForthFamily.com/GAC
We wish you the BEST in your parenting journey.
With much love,
Tom and Julie Meekins