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Life Skills around the Home: Not Just Chores

As parents, we spend much of our time teaching and instructing our children—with the hopes that they will meet certain milestone criteria as they grow. We praise them after those first few steps and throw potty parties after we’ve said goodbye to diapers. These developments are huge and are worth celebrating.

But what about after the toddler years? How do we begin to raise them as meaningful contributors to our families (in the hopes that one day they will be examples to their own children)? It’s easier than you think.

Stay Focused
From the moment a child exits the womb they are on their own schedule—it’s no secret that they thrive on routine and are creatures of habit. Not only do routines create a feeling of security, but they also help children learn self-control. The notion of routines doesn’t suddenly vanish once your child becomes more independent; in fact, they become even more vital. Start by simply talking with your child about what to expect each day. Organize your home so your child knows where everything goes—shoes, coats and toys. And don’t forget to take time to focus on something together—try reading a book or completing a puzzle. Increasing their focus and willingness to complete a task will prove incredibly useful as they grow.

Communication
Our children want us to know what they are thinking most days—but aren’t always the best at expressing their emotions or knowing how to articulate what they are feeling. It’s our job to spend time every day listening and responding without distractions (yep, put the cell phone down!). Talking and engaging with your child will help him to build healthy social-emotional skills and eventually learn how to “read” social cues. “Gosh, Mommy seems sad. Maybe I should give her a hug…” is just one small example and proof that communication is more than just the words we speak.

Connect the Dots
According to author Ellen Galinsky, true learning occurs when we can see connections and patterns between seemingly disparate things. In other words, the more connections we make, the more sense and meaning we make of the world. You can provide these kinds of connection opportunities easily around the house: let your child help sort the laundry or choose clothing that is appropriate for the weather (“It’s cold outside today … what do you think we should wear?”). Children are also notorious for making connections on their own—linking stories they’ve read in a book to real-life situations (“This book reminds me when we went apple picking!”).

Up for the Challenge
One of the most important life lessons we can impart onto our children is that of resiliency. Being able to take on challenges and keep trying if we’ve failed can be an ongoing conversation and example to set. In most instances, children need to feel safe before they are willing to try something new—so start small. Perhaps it’s riding a bike or jumping off the diving board for the first time. Use phrases like, “I think you’re ready to … let’s give it a try!” And, after they’ve given it their best effort, recognize them for it: “Learning to tie your shoes wasn’t easy … but you kept trying. Well done—you should be proud of yourself!”

Self-Directed Learning
Children who can play and learn independently are rarely bored as adults. To foster this love of self-directed engagement, try limiting screen time and encourage plenty of reading and open-ended exploration. Little Learning Hands subscription boxes are perfect activities for children to have opportunities to learn on their own. The boxes are based on learning through play and the activities encourage your child to develop confidence as they see what they are capable of achieving.

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