Teachers do a lot for our children. They teach them reading, math, and history. But there are some life skills that just can't be taught in the classroom because they need to be learned in the context of day-to-day life. They are best taught through example, and the best example for a child is her parent.
Your child can count pennies on a page all day long in school, but it doesn't amount to much unless those pennies are real and are put to use in the real world. Financial responsibility is something we all learn, often the hard way. The earlier we start to teach our children what it means to make money, spend money, and save money, the better off they will be down the road.
Give your child an earned allowance and let her make decisions on how to spend it, save it, or donate it. She'll quickly learn that the bag of candy she had to have will make it harder for her to save up for the new toy she wants. Learning the difference between needs and wants, and how saving money helps us in the long run, are great lessons to learn as a child.
Your child may be a slob, but have you taught her how to clean? If you are picking up all of your three-year-old's toys for her, you are not doing her (or you) any favors. Make sure she puts away the toy she was playing with when she is done with it before she takes a new toy out. When you're vacuuming or dusting, let her help.
There are plenty of chores that young children can do to help out around the house. Teach her the best ways to clean and why certain cleaning products are better or worse (just don't let her touch any chemicals). As she gets older, give her more responsibilities so that she can learn to value her belongings and her home.
Teach children to cook, even if a little. Not only will they be healthier for it, they will be less reliant on a spouse or take-out food. Let them pick out new recipes and help you cook meals and prepare snacks. As they grow, you can have more responsibility in the kitchen. You can also teach her about spices and flavor combinations, as well as different cooking terms, measuring, and how to tell when fruit is at its freshest. These will all be greatly beneficial when she's grown.
Learning to be organized will help your child throughout her life both professionally and personally. You can start with her toys and continue with her homework once she is in school. Create filing systems together to show her how being organized equals less stress. Organizational skills will come in handy someday when she is filing her taxes, starting at her first job, or moving into her first home.
There's a common belief out there that if something makes someone happy, then she should just do it — no matter how it affects other people. This is not true. Every action we take affects the people we love and even some people we don't know, and that should not be taken lightly.
You can begin teaching your child about sympathy, empathy, and compassion when she is still young by bringing her with you to volunteer at the food shelf or the animal shelter, and by encouraging her to give a portion of her allowance to a local charity. Psychology Today believes that giving your child a pet will also help to foster compassion, kindness, and sympathy.
6. Conflict Resolution
Children are bound to fight with each other, usually over a toy. But in today's world, bullies seem to have a stronger, longer reach than in years past. You can teach your child to practice good conflict resolution by leading by example. Don't argue with your spouse and use mean language in front of your children. Don't talk down to each other or yell at your child fiercely. She will mimic your behavior.
The Australian Psychology Society advises parents to help children identify how they feel and understand the other person's perspective during a conflict. Teach her how to use her words calmly and effectively. Resorting to yelling, name-calling, or violence is never okay.
It isn't really too hard to teach happiness to your child — you just have to practice it yourself. Your stresses and frustrations are obvious to your child, and so is how you handle them. Try to always keep a positive outlook and show gratitude even when times are tough or you are having a bad day. We can't choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react. Our happiness in life isn't made up of material things or a large income. It is a choice that comes from within. Teach your child to have faith, to celebrate the good with the bad, and to never lose hope.
Parents are the best teachers. It is in our everyday lives that our children learn the most about life, love, success, and happiness. Do your best to lead by example and help your child grow into a successful, happy, compassionate adult.