Difficulties are a part of life. As children grow up, through observation, teaching and experience, they gradually acquire the ability to handle problems and find solutions.
While some children are naturally good at negotiating their way through the rough and tumble of life, some need to be taught to how to be assertive and stand up for themselves.
As parents, we strive to give the best of everything to our children. But, along with fulfilling our children's needs and wants, we should also try to teach them how to take care of themselves and find their way in this world. In other words, we should raise our children to be street-smart.
Here are a few things you can do to teach your child how to be resourceful and clever.
- Discuss how to handle problems: You can’t always be present when problems come knocking on your child's door. So, it's a good idea to discuss hypothetical scenarios and how she would respond to them. For example, you could ask her what she would do if she gets lost in an unfamiliar part of town. Such problem-solving exercises would teach your child how to deal with an eventuality.
- Teach life hacks: Life hacks are nothing but simple yet innovative strategies to do things more efficiently. For example, if your child breaks something made of glass, he should use a slice of bread to pick up the shards instead of using his fingers. A life hack can also be something as simple as knowing how to quickly and neatly fold clothes. Think of other simple tricks you use to make your day easier and teach them to your child.
- Impart 'stranger safety' guidelines: Speak to your child about 'stranger danger'. Advise her to always be watchful and cautious while around strangers. Counsel your child to never hitch a ride with an unfamiliar adult. If your little one is home alone, tell her not to reveal that fact to anyone, either on the phone or in person. At the same time, also tell your child that if she is ever in trouble, she can seek help from certain strangers — for example, a mother with a child or someone in a police uniform.
- Discuss negotiation skills: Street-smart individuals know how to negotiate. They display tact and intelligence to get what they want and yet, leave the other party feeling satisfied. Every day offers multiple opportunities for teaching and practising negotiation skills with your child. For example, your child may have his own idea about which clothes to wear to the park, how long to study during holidays, or what to have for dinner during a weekend outing. As a parent, discuss your child’s demands with him. This will help him learn to negotiate and reach a compromise.
- Encourage being assertive: Street-smart children know when to be assertive and how to do so. They are able to stand up for themselves and let others know what they believe in. They are also able to withstand pressure and not give in to something they consider wrong. So, encourage your child to be assertive by teaching her how to speak up, voice her opinions, disagree respectfully and say 'No' when she has to. Also, respect your child's decisions. For example, if you ask your child for a hug and she says 'No', then respect her decision and don't force your wish on her.
- Teach how to handle bullying: Every child is bullied at some point in his life. The street-smart ones know how to handle it. Help your child understand the fine line between teasing and bullying. Tell him to handle bullies. For example, by asserting himself and calmly telling the bully not to hurt him. If this fails, he should inform the teacher.
- Refrain from sheltering: As a parent, you may be tempted to help your child every time she finds herself in a difficult situation. However, remember that doing so won't allow your child to learn how to do things on her own or take good decisions. A sheltered child lacks both confidence and competence. But, while you let your child fend for herself, do keep a watchful eye on her and step in when you feel that things are going out of control.
A child raised to be street-smart is likely to be more successful in life than his peers. This is because he possesses the ability and confidence to handle diverse situations. So start young and impart these essential life skills and, see your child blossom.
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