Is your child about to enter the crucial ‘high school phase.’ Make sure that she has acquired all the skills that will help her transition into adulthood successfully.
By Aruna Raghuram
Children acquire life skills mostly in their preteen and teenage years. The practical, cognitive, social and emotional skills they learn, not only ease their transition in to adulthood but also enable them to lead healthy and productive lives.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines life skills thus - 'The abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.' While education gives children knowledge, it does not necessarily equip them with essential life skills. So, they need to be taught by parents.
“Social scientists are realising that many of our adult outcomes can be traced back, at least in part, to our experiences in high school,” says Robert Crosnoe, a sociologist at the University of Texas at Austin who conducted a seven-year study of the adolescent social scene. No doubt, high school is an experience that is an integral part of your child’s life. And, acquiring these life skills can help him handle this stage of his life more positively, in terms of academics, identity building and social life.
Regarding this, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru developed a life skills education (LSE) programme for adolescents. A study assessing the programme found that the adolescents in the LSE programme had significantly better self-esteem, possessed adequate coping mechanisms, adapted better (specifically with teachers) and displayed prosocial behaviours.
So, here are 10 core life skills that children will benefit from by the time they reach high school. Read on to know why they are important and how you, as parents, can help your children build these skills.
Managing money: Learning how to manage money wisely will make children financially responsible adults. They will learn how to live within their means and avoid getting into debt.
Housekeeping skills: Knowing how to cook a simple meal can be very useful. Home-cooked meals are healthier and cheaper than eating out. Teach your child a few easy and healthy recipes. He should also know the basics of nutrition and food safety.
Time management: How we manage our time in a day determines what we achieve. Having good time management skills will be an asset for your teen as she enters adulthood and later, when she starts working.
Decision-making skills: These skills help individuals move through life with purpose. These include goal-setting and planning how to achieve these goals by prioritising tasks. They also involve taking responsibility for one's actions. Having the presence of mind to handle emergencies is also a part of this skill set.
Problem-solving skills: Your child should not have to come to you for help. every time she has a problem. You can equip her with the skill to find solutions on her own. The SODAS system (Situation, Options, Disadvantages, Advantages and Solutions) is a useful technique to teach her how to solve problems. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 31 per cent of teens feel overwhelmed due to stress.
Communication: This is a critical skill that your child will need to master both in her personal and professional life. Good manners, a ready smile and willingness to listen, will ensure she is able to communicate effectively and collaborate with others.
Critical thinking: Your child should learn to think for himself without being swayed by peers, society or media.
Self-awareness: A sense of self involves an understanding of your personality, beliefs, values, strengths and weaknesses.
Empathy: Having a sense of empathy can help youngsters understand and accept others who may be very different from them. At every opportunity, induce feelings of compassion for others in your child.
One of the most important ways you can help your child build his life skills is by not micromanaging his life. Stop being overprotective and give him responsibilities. And, if he resists, play the independence card. Tell him he will have to learn a skill to become independent. Also, keep the communication lines open so that he could come to you for help if he runs into difficulties.
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