Some parents love their children so much that they do almost everything for them. That’s ok though, right? Wrong! If we overly protect our children and do everything for them, we are crippling them. We are sending a strong message to them that we do not trust them and that they don’t have what it takes to take care of themselves. If we want to nurture our kids, cultivate their personalities and raise them to be happy and well-adjusted adults, we need to ease up on the over-parenting and teach them some basic life skills.
‘We parents, we are doing too much’, says Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of Stanford University and author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Over-Parenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. ‘We have the very best of intentions, but when we over-help, we deprive them of the chance to learn these really important things that it turns out they need to learn to be prepared to be out in the world’.
Now that you are ready to break free from over-parenting, here are the 5 skills your child needs to learn before entering high school:
1. Make a meal
‘By the time your kid is in high school, they really ought to be able to do everything related to their own care’ Lythcott-Haims says. While you (the parent) will still do most of the cooking, your child should know how to make a meal, even if it’s a real simple one. Teaching a skill like cooking helps you hit two birds with one stone: teach a skill and foster confidence!
2. Wake themselves up on time
‘By the time your kid is entering high school, you ought to have confidence they can wake themselves up and get themselves washed and dressed in clothing that’s clean’ Lythcott-Haims says. ‘Too many of us are letting kids off. We’re their alarm clock and then what happens? They’re late for breakfast; they’re late to school; and we drive them. All that teaches them is that we’ll always be there to wake them up and drive them which is not true’. When your teenager learns to wake up on his/her own, we are also teaching accountability. Your teenager will learn that if he/she is late for school, then there are consequences to face.
3. Do laundry
We teach our kids basic hygiene so why not teach them how to take care of their clothes and personal belongings? Laundry is definitely one of those life skills usually over-looked by many but it is an important skill to learn and utilize.
4. Pack their own bag
‘We’re always putting their stuff in their backpacks’, Lythcott-Haims says. ‘Oh, don’t want you to forget your homework!’ That backpack becomes a bag or a briefcase one day in the workplace, and they haven’t learned that skill of being responsible for remembering their own stuff, doing that inventory every morning, ‘What do I need? Wallet, keys, lunch, work, laptop.’ When a child packs his/her own bag for school, he/she also learns to be responsible for his/her own learning; a simple task with a much bigger message.
5. Order at restaurants
Ordering at restaurants also teaches basic manners, like looking people in the eye, being polite, kind and respectful to the restaurant staff. The last thing I would want is for my child to feel entitled and even worse, to be disrespectful to others.
As you continue your parenting journey remember this wonderful quote by Ann Landers: ‘It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings’.