Life skills for kids are something we don’t often think about during any given day. But we teach them life skills, even if we aren’t aware. Children need certain life skills to succeed in life, especially after they leave the nest. Specifically, I’m going to touch on the emotional and mental life skills kids need, because let’s face it–those might just be the most important.
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What are life skills?
Throughout someone’s lifetime, they will learn certain life skills that will enable them to survive in a myriad of circumstances and life events.
Life skills are techniques and practices that help you efficiently understand and deal with the experiences and difficulties of normal, everyday life.
They will help you identify with others in social situations, process your emotions, adapt to the environment around you, and empathize with others.
Quite possibly, if you grew up in one culture, the life skills you learned there might not equally translate to that of a different culture. So in many ways, life skills are subject to a family, a culture, and the society that surrounds you.
We usually learn the most vital and lucrative life skills from our parents. That is if we have good ones.
How do you teach emotional life skills to your children?
When teaching your kids certain life skills, you will most likely pass on the ones you’ve learned from your parents, as well as the ones you’ve acquired throughout your lifetime.
Most often, we don’t consciously recognize when we are teaching our child a life skill that will be useful to them throughout their life, but in essence, that’s the exact definition of parenting — teaching your child how to survive and thrive in this world.
So often, we get caught up in the notion that our children are there to appease us or fulfill a purpose in our life. But the reality is, we are there to help our kids understand the world around them in a tangible and meaningful way. The best way to get your kids to do that is to teach them these life skills, grounded in love.
“And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:2
If we try to teach our children something but don’t do it in love, it could cause your children to rebel, or their perception of that life skill to be skewed.
Our children are moldable, vulnerable, and fragile hearts; we need to be ever so careful. And if we recognize that they watch us with open, curious eyes, we will teach them something, and most often, they will teach us something. This is the beauty of parenting.
Here are 7 life skills that will help your child thrive emotionally and mentally in this confusing and complicated world.
Emotionally healthy children have parents who teach them these 7 social and life skills
How to communicate their feelings
The communication of feelings will be one of the most essential life skills to teach your children. Not only will it help them emotionally thrive, but they also won’t feel unprepared in the wake of negative feelings.
Journaling is an amazing way to teach kids to communicate their feelings in a helpful way. That’s why we’ve created this Kid’s Printable Journal — designed to help kids express themselves with encouraging questions, coloring pages, and gratitude prompts.
When children are ill-prepared in what to do with their emotions, it can lead to anxiety, depression, and other emotional problems during adolescence and adulthood.
The beautiful thing is, the best way to do this is through modeling it yourself, as well as being the nonjudgmental space they go to when they feel frustrated or angry.
Find out more on this subject in Emotionally Healthy Kids Have Parents Who Ask These 5 Questions Daily.
How to handle rejection or failure
Failure and rejection are quite possibly the most often and unfortunate things that happen in our lives — all the more reason to help your child understand what to do when faced with them.
How? First and foremost, model it.
In every situation you can, let them see you fail, but also what you do with failure. Apologize when you wrong them — this shows them you’re imperfect just like them. Tell them when you apply for a job and get rejected. If they come home from school sad about being rejected by their friends, tell them about how everyone will experience rejection and that it’s a normal occurrence of life.
Counter their rejection by showing empathy when they come to you with feelings of doubt, sadness, and confusion. Tell them that rejection or failure doesn’t define them, but rather what they do with it.
Understand and experience different cultures, races, and social statuses.
If you have to opportunity, expose your child to as many cultures as you can. When we lived in Germany, we had our son go to a multicultural school. In this case, he was an immigrant. He was the only American kid in the entire school.
This taught him many life skills that I am grateful for, including his compassion towards everyone, no matter their culture, background, or color of skin.
I understand not everyone has that opportunity. But there are ways to introduce different cultures through education, food, simple conversations, books.
Talk to your kids about racial diversity, and if you’re confused about where to start, here are some great books for kids that help destigmatize racial differences.
When I was 15, I went on a mission trip to Russia and worked at an orphanage camp. I wouldn’t trade the life skills and experiences I learned there for anything.
Do whatever you can to expose cultural differences and the importance of equality within it.
“He doesn’t care how great a person may be, and he pays no more attention to the rich than to the poor. He made them all.” Job 34:19
See full children’s book list that encourage racial diversity.
Show respect to everyone
This one most reveals itself through example. When we show respect to those around us, especially our family, our children will notice.
Read more about the importance of showing respect to your kids here.
How to share and be generous
Obviously, it’s necessary to start teaching your toddler how to share their toys with other kids. You could argue that this is where you can begin to implement the notion of sharing.
But I also want to add in generosity. A giving heart is a joyful heart. We experience joy when we give. And teaching our children this essential life skill will help them understand compassion in its sincerest form.
Give to the needy — offer your time and service to help others by adopting a refugee family together, serve at a soup kitchen, or give money.
Sometimes, generosity is as simple as inviting someone over for dinner and making it special.
Westernized culture is infiltrated with easy, fast, convenient, and cheap, which often tells those around us that they aren’t worth our time or money.
Let's say you had someone over for dinner. Do you serve them your best wine, the best quality of food, and take the time to make it meaningful? Or do you try to make it as convenient and cheap as possible? Your kids will notice these things and follow suit.
We went to our refugee friends house for dinner in Germany. They had NOTHING. But they prepared for us a feast, and all without flinching.
Our culture has replaced generosity with convenience. But as family, you can teach the rewards and joy of giving generously to others, even while residing in a selfish culture.
How to apologize
Apologizing to someone you wronged is the most humbling and challenging life skill to learn. Our human nature is infiltrated with selfishness from the moment we are born. We are needy, and in our need, we forget one another.
We forget that our actions can cause others pain. But that's where you have to be careful. Let them know it's okay to fail and make a mistake. But owning up to it is where this life skill can make or break a person.
I'll just say it — when you don't teach your child to apologize, you will raise entitled little a-holes that most likely won't be able to have a healthy marriage or friendship.
How to know their own limits and boundaries
When your kid has a bad attitude, there is usually a reason. Perhaps they are tired, overwhelmed, or something bad happened at school.
This is why it's so important to teach them about knowing their own limits — when they should rest, or do something for themselves.
Teach them self-care, how to say no to others, how to have boundaries, but at the same time not be selfish. That's a thin line to walk, and one that we adults aren't so good at.
But a child who knows his limits will be emotionally and mentally healthier than one who doesn't know what to do when he feels overwhelmed or anxious.
And remember, in all you teach your children, do it in LOVE.
Positive parenting tools for every parent
Screen Time Protection and Teaching Moderation
I've recently partnered with Bark, a software to supervise, manage, and protect your child's device use on the go. Use the code WORDBIRD at checkout to get an additional 1-month free trial after your first initial 7-day trial!
Screen Time Checklist Printable for Kids - FREE if you sign up for our weekly newsletter. Just fill out your info below.
Book List for Kids and Parents
Check out my recommended books for parenting.
Book list to teach kids about racial diversity.
Journaling for Kids
When a child is old enough to start drawing, coloring, or writing, journaling is an incredible way to help your kids better express themselves in a free and comfortable way. Check out our Kid's Printable Journals -- created specifically to help children better express their feelings, encourage gratitude, and spark the imagination.
Chores for Kids
Magnetized Chalk Chart for Fridge
Implementing chores and structure in your child's daily life is a VERY helpful tool to teach them follow through, discipline, and respect. We use this chore chart in our family to help our kids keep track of their own progress, and keep you from having to constantly remind them of their daily tasks.
If you're looking for something a bit more simple, this is also a good option.
Chore Chart Printable - Get it NOW from the convenience of your own printer
If you're looking for something you can print out immediately and start implementing chores in your home today, check out this CHORE CHART PRINTABLE. With a Mandalorian theme, it makes for a lighthearted and fun way to encourage kids to do their daily and weekly "missions."
Emotional Connectivity with Your Kids
Connecting on a deeper level emotionally with your child is CRUCIAL, and sometimes more difficult. We play THIS GAME often in our family to create a safe space for our kids to feel free to share their questions and emotions, all without judgment.
We even offer an "Exemption Time" for the duration of this game, where anything he tells us is off the table for consequences.
Check out these other posts on emotional connectivity on the blog!
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