Our education writer talks about an alarming new trend: there are several basic life skills kids lack today, but she offers 4 ideas for how parents can help their kids get a handle on it.
Kids today seem different than any other generation in history. They are reading earlier, solving complex math equations and can use any piece of technology placed before them. While all of these things seem great, there are some basic life skills kids lack today. Perhaps it’s because today’s children spend much more time playing video games alone than playing in the street until dark with their friends.
As a teacher, I have noticed a significant change in the behavior of my students over the years. Below are some of the most significant changes I have seen, and what parents can do to help their kids.
4 BASIC LIFE SKILLS KIDS TODAY LACK
1.) The ability to work cooperatively with others.
When I was a kid, I had to share one television with my 3 siblings, which meant compromising on a single show, everyday. Today, kids don’t have to worry about sharing screen time or much else. This carries over big time into the classroom. I find students arguing over the simplest tasks, like who gets to hold the book or write with the marker.
To help at home, give your kids opportunities to work out their issues, everyday. Fight the urge to step in and let the kids work out their differences on their own. Encourage them to use their words and explain how to compromise. Watch TV together with your kids, allowing siblings to take turns choosing a show. Sure, it’s easier to watch in separate rooms, but the togetherness and cooperation are worth so much more.
2.) Being Creative.
The elementary curriculum has become so rigorous that kids are missing out on opportunities to work creatively. At home, many kids are over-scheduled with structured activities, which leave little room for the imagination to develop.
At home, schedule free play into your busy schedule. Kids should have time to play in an unstructured environment every day. That means no guidance or suggestions from mom or dad. Turn off the technology and let the kids play with their toys. This can be painful at first, as kids who spend a lot of time in structured play won’t know what to do with the free time. Ignore the complaining and be consistent. After a few days of being bored, you will be amazed at the things your kids do to entertain themselves.
Our kids live in an age of instant gratification and with that comes the expectation that things will go their way all of the time. Many kids have lost the ability to persevere through a challenging task. In my classroom, I have students that ask for help before even reading the problem on the page. They want the correct answer immediately and they are not always willing to put the time in to figure it out.
At home, try giving them real life problems to figure out together. Let them make mistakes and work through them without rushing in to fix them. Let them complete homework alone, checking that it is complete but not necessarily correct. Have them put together a Lego set without your help or allow them to rearrange their rooms on their own. Kids need to make mistakes to learn how to handle them. Don’t be so quick to correct mistakes. Kids need to experience failures to learn how to overcome them!
4.) Being a loser.
One of the most painful emotions that we feel as parents is seeing our children fail. We want them to be happy and successful at everything. Self-esteem is so important that we don’t want to see them hurt. One of the greatest gifts you can give your child, is to allow him to experience failure. Kids need to practice losing as children so that they can handle the big losses as adults.
Allow your kids to have plenty of opportunities to win and lose. That means beating them at a game of checkers, or keeping quiet after an unfair call at a baseball game. Think of every painful loss as a valuable learning experience for your child. They will gain confidence and self-esteem when they realize that they can overcome a loss by working harder the next time.
Our kids are growing up in very different circumstances than we did as children. Hopefully these tips will help your children attain some of the basic life skills kids need so that they will be successful in the future.
Thanks for reading.
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