A boy behind the wheel of his cardboard box-car
12 Jun 2018

Life skills to teach your kids

The American satirist P.J. O'Rourke once quipped: “Everybody knows how to raise children, except the people who have them.” While an overgeneralisation, most parents would admit to wondering if they are raising their children right. What life skills should you focus on equipping your child with to set them up for future success?

We pick out five skills that can set them up for future success.

1. Social skills

Friends and family having fun at a birthday party

Today, kids are growing up on a diet of electronic devices and YouTube videos. Many become captivated with the screens before them, showing little interest in the people around them. Therefore, it takes concerted effort by all parties to develop a child’s social skills. Learning to share toys, picking up good manners and displaying empathy are basic social blocks to form positive relationships and EQ. (By the way, a higher EQ score outweighs IQ1 when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder.)

Here are some ways to help develop their social skills:

  • Talk to your children often. Encourage them to articulate their thoughts and feelings.
  • Pay attention to them when they are talking.
  • Invite friends or relatives over for gatherings.
  • Teach your kids to greet others politely.
  • When they apply social skills well, acknowledge their effort.
  • Expose them to different languages and dialects—it promotes cognitive development and may open up opportunities for them in the future.

2. Self-confidence

A parent guides her daughter's hands as they plant a seedling together

Confidence stems from a variety of factors, including having a sense of competence, and being in a familiar and loving environment. Children are more likely to try new things when they feel safe, and when their caregivers are around to provide assurance. Affirm them when they do something right; when they fail, encourage them to try again. As Christopher Robin tells Winnie the Pooh: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”.

Related to confidence is a sense of independence. You cannot be there all the time for your children, so you need to teach them to think independently. Let them travel to and from school on public transport, plan a family outing and help out with household chores. These seemingly small tasks can go a long way towards developing independence.

3. Managing time and money

Teach your child to recognise the value of time and the importance of time management. The ability to prioritise well is a crucial skill in our hyper-stimulated world which is full of distractions and demands.

Appreciating the value of money and managing finances wisely are also essential skill sets. There are tools to help your child achieve that.

POSB Smart Buddy, a digital wearable, enables children to keep track of time so that they are not late for classes, and to pay for items in school and at selected merchants. Paired with a mobile app, you can disburse allowances, while your child decides how he wants to spend the money. This promotes financial management—especially when it comes to cashless exchanges.

The device also doubles up as a fitness tracker. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can be a fun process!

4. Managing emotions

Boy sulks in a corner

Human emotions fluctuate greatly. While we should be in touch with our emotions, there are also times when we need to regulate and manage negative feelings. There are different ways to manage our emotions. Give your kids some space to explore their own ways of dealing with positivity and negativity.

5. Responsibility

A teenage girl folds some clothes, supervised by her mother

“The price of greatness is responsibility,” said Winston Churchill. We inculcate that through the little things in daily life. Teach your children to make the bed when they wake up, keep the books after they are done with them, and to save up the extra allowance. When your children make a mistake, get them to resolve the situation by themselves and not to shift blame.

The world outside is fast-changing. It’s more important than ever to set your child up for success. Besides these five essential life skills to teach our kids, what else should parents impart to the next generation?

1 https://www.fastcompany.com/3047455/why-emotionally-intelligent-people-are-more-successful