Essential Life Skills to teach your child

9 Essential Life Skills You Must Teach Your Child

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Few days back, I was interacting with a friend of mine.

We happen to discuss the responsibility of parents towards their children and towards society at large.

A child raised in the right manner ensures that the parents have done their bit for the society. Click To Tweet

Since I have become a parent to a sweet little girl early this year, I was contemplating on what things I need to do to raise my daughter in the best possible way.

While modern education is a must, our schools still don’t impart lots of essential life lessons; lessons that will help our children become not just better students but better human beings.

This blog post lays out the informal curriculum and learning plan I have planned for my child.

If you are a parent, do read through all of these and let me know your viewpoint.

Here’s the list of the skills which I think one should impart to their children no matter what:-

1. Yoga & exercise

Your body is a gift you have inherited from your parents.

Teach your kids the importance of this gift and that it’s their duty to keep their body healthy by doing regular exercise.

To start with, introduce your child to the basic breathing techniques of yoga (like Pranayama, Bhastrika, Kapal Bharti etc.). Make them join you for morning/evening walks, jogging sprints and exercise sessions.

You may have to do your own study and understand the right way to do the exercise before you pass on the knowledge to your child, but that effort is worth it.

As your child grows old, she will love you even more for inculcating such healthy habits in her.

This will also ensure that the excess energy of the child is channelized in the right direction and not towards watching television or mobile phone.

 

2. Meditation

Most of the children are chirpy and restless.

Help them practice silence and stillness, at least for few minutes a day.

I know it’s difficult to make them sit down and practice meditation with you, but that’s what you have to do if you want to be a responsible parent.

Initially, start small and inculcate in them a habit to practice silence. Teach them how to focus with full concentration. You can make them observe a bird or a butterfly or some other aspect of nature.

Once they show the positive signs, introduce them to meditation techniques and help them focus internally.

You have to keep things very simple at the start and slowly increase the complexity as and when they are ready to acknowledge the aspects.

 

3. The Concept of God

If you are religious, teach your child about your religion. At the same time, don’t forget to introduce her to other religions of the society.

Inculcate in them the openness to accept viewpoints of others (and other’s religion) with grace.

The best way to do that is to take them to the places of worship of other religions and show them the uniqueness of each.

But most important, teach them that God and religion are separate. Re-enforce in them the thought that religion is just a means to achieve an end and the ultimate objective of every religion is the same.

Do make sure you don’t frighten them up by showing them an invisible force called God that punishes them whenever they do something wrong, as it is done in most of the Indian households.

If you’re an atheist or an agnostic (like me), you still have a duty towards your child. Tell them that God is a confusing aspect of human civilization. There are people who say God exists and some say he doesn’t. Tell them your reasoning behind disapproving or doubting the existence of God.

Ask them why they think God would harm someone just because a person worships in some other way or eats something not allowed in his or her religion.

But remember, never ever force your understanding of God and religion on to your children. Encourage them to ask questions on religion and God, and let them understand that most of the things in religion are just norms rather than hard coded principles.

And norms can change as per the demand of time.

Give them enough liberty to make these changes for them and to find their own God.

 

4. Financial Knowledge

Give your child the financial knowledge they need to excel in the world.

Introduce them to the concept of money and the difference in value &price.

Make them learn the concept of saving, investment and growth.

As they grow up, introduce them to the concept of banking, ATM and writing cheques. In fact, you can open a children’s account in their name and let them experience banking first hand.

Teach them the importance of goal creation (buying something they yearn for) and saving towards that goal.

Show them how to build a corpus for some material goal (leverage their piggy bank for this purpose) and give them incentives when they hit a certain level (the concept of interest).

I have so much to say here that I can keep on going, but I will stop for now and write a separate post on it later.

 

5. Financial Discipline

Financial discipline is different from financial knowledge.

While financial knowledge is related to hard concepts, financial discipline is all about following healthy financial habits. And both are independent of each other.

Inculcate good financial habits in your child, right from the very start.

Remember, good financial habits are less to do with money and more to do with one's behavior. Click To Tweet

Teach them how to practice delayed gratification (do practice the Marsh Mallow test on your child), goal creation, saving towards that goal (and not hoarding money), staying within one’s means etc.

More than that, teach them how to strike a balance between consumption for needs vs. splurging on wants and desires.

Help them understand that money is not the means but a medium to achieve the means, and it has to be respected and preserved.

Remember, it’s never too late to start practicing good habits. Catch your kids young and they will turn out to be responsible adults.

 

6. Self Defense

Given the world we are living in today, self defense is one aspect that a child should learn.

When I was 10 years old, my parents ensured I was enrolled in a judo class. This helped me gain enough confidence especially when I was dealing with bullies at my school.

Similarly, make your child understand that they should resort to violence only as the last means and only as a self-defense mechanism.

While they shouldn’t be the first one to get into a fight, but if need arises, they should have no hesitation to use force.

 

7. Gardening

When I was a kid, my father often used to take me & my sisters to our land in the outskirts of the town where we grew trees and flowers.

We also had lots of earthen pots at home where I used to grow vegetables.

I used to experiment growing all sorts of things; planting apple seeds, orange seeds, wheat and what not; and taking care of the saplings and watching them grow.

As a matter of fact, I am still maintaining a kitchen garden at my residence. I ensure that I spend at least half an hour daily there and I will pass on this habit to my daughter.

Tushar Jain gardening
Me in my kitchen garden

Try that with your child as well. Gardening is the best way to teach your child the virtues of patience, nurturing and success.

Gardening is the best way to teach your child the virtues of patience, nurturing and success. Click To Tweet

Make them consume their own garden produce and experience the satisfaction on their face.

 

8. Respect for Work

Let your kids try their hands on the basic household errands like washing the utensils, watering the plants, cleaning the car, sweeping the floor etc.

That way, they get to understand the hard physical labor that goes in executing these tasks and will respect the people who run these errands for us.

Help them appreciate the contribution of support staff in our life and importance of respecting them and their work.

 

9. Respect for Nature

Tell your kids about the constituents of nature (like water, earth, plants, animals etc.).

Help them understand how our consumption of resources impact these constituents.

Make sure they understand the importance of conserving water, electricity and fuel, and introduce them to the concept of recycling and reuse.

Our earth is already under so much pressure and we need to raise a generation that focuses less on consumption but more in conservation.

 

Conclusion

These are the 9 areas which I think should be a part of the informal curriculum of every child.

If you are already practicing any of these, I would love to know your experience.

I won’t claim that this is an exhaustive list, so please feel free to add further to these points in the comment section below.

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Tushar Jain

Tushar Jain

Tushar Jain is a personal finance enthusiast who loves to talk about money, savings, investments and spending. He blogs about financial wisdom and income growth habits at this blog jaintushar.com. Contact him to say Hi.

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