Even though COVID closures and lockdowns have been challenging for families, there are silver linings. The development (and honing!) of life skills by our kids is one of the benefits! I'm seeing it first-hand with my own teens.
Kids need life skills to be successful and independent in the 21st century - in the real world - and parents can promote their improvement at home, every day!
Lindsay Hutton, associate editor at familyeducation.com, created a list of "living skills" kids should possess, by age category. She outlines the skills needed per “stage” — goals kids and teens can work toward.
I hope you find Ms Hutton’s list as helpful as I do.
AGES 2 TO 3: SMALL CHORES AND BASIC GROOMING.
This is the age when your child will start to learn basic life skills. By the age of three, your child should be able to:
help put his toys away
dress himself (with some help from you)
put his clothes in the hamper when he undresses
clear his plate after meals
assist in setting the table
brush his teeth and wash his face with assistance
AGES 4 TO 5: IMPORTANT NAMES AND NUMBERS.
When your child reaches this age, safety skills are high on the list. She should:
know her full name, address, and phone number
know how to make an emergency call
perform simple cleaning chores such as dusting in easy-to-reach places and clearing the table after meals
identify monetary denominations, and understand the very basic concept of how money is usedbrush her teeth, comb her hair, and wash her face without assistance
help with basic laundry chores, such as putting her clothes away and bringing her dirty clothes to the laundry area
choose her own clothes to wear
AGES 6 TO 7: BASIC COOKING TECHNIQUES.
Kids at this age can start to help with cooking meals, and can learn to:
mix, stir, and cut with a dull knife
make a basic meal, such as a sandwich
help put the groceries away
wash the dishes
use basic household cleaners safely
straighten up the bathroom after using it
make his bed without assistance
AGES 8 TO 9: PRIDE IN PERSONAL BELONGINGS.
By this time, your child should take pride in her personal belongings and take care of them properly. This includes being able to:
fold her clothes
learn simple sewing
care for outdoor toys such as her bike or roller skate
stake care of personal hygiene without being told to do souse a broom and dustpan properly
read a recipe and prepare a simple meal
help create a grocery list • count and make change
take written phone messages
help with simple lawn duties such as watering and weeding flower bed
stake out the trash
AGES 10 TO 13: GAINING INDEPENDENCE.
Ten is about the age when your child can begin to perform many skills independently. He should know how to:
stay home alone
go to the store and make purchases by himself
change his own bedsheets
use the washing machine and dryer
plan and prepare a meal with several ingredients
use the oven to broil or bake foods
iron his clothes
learn to use basic hand tools
mow the lawn
look after younger siblings or neighbours
AGES 14 TO 18: MORE ADVANCED SKILLS ARE LEARNED.
By the age of fourteen, your child should have a very good mastering of all of the previous skills. On top of that, she should also be able to:
perform more sophisticated cleaning and maintenance chores, such as changing the vacuum cleaner bag, cleaning the stove, and unclogging drains
fill a car with gas, add air to and change a tire
read and understand medicine labels and dosages
interview for and get a job
prepare and cook meals
YOUNG ADULTS: PREPARING TO LIVE ON HIS OWN.
Your child will need to know how to support himself when he goes away to college or moves out. There are still a few skills he should know before venturing out on his own, including:
make regular doctor and dentist appointments and other important health-related appointments
have a basic understanding of finances, and be able to manage his bank account, balance a cheque book, pay a bill, and use a credit card
understand basic contracts, like an apartment or car lease
schedule oil changes and basic car maintenance
As parents in this day and age, it’s hard not to want to do some of these things for our kids. We love to pitch in. Sometimes it’s easier to do it ourselves. I think this behaviour is the popular parenting style of our time.
But research shows we’re not helping our kids in the long run.
I'm proud to say that during the pandemic, my teens have pitched in a ton. They're cooking, doing laundry, running errands (with driver licenses) and helping redecorate using tools. I'm thrilled - and I think they feel pretty good about themselves too.
Bring on the chores!