Being a parent means a never-ending balancing act, an exercise in patience and having a seemingly infinite knowledge of all the things to teach your children in life. From teaching your kids how to read, to memorizing the multiplication table, you know how important at-home learning can be for childhood development. But put aside academics for a minute, because these important life-lessons need to be addressed too. These are the things to teach your children, right now.
1. Stranger Danger
Children of all ages need to be taught to be aware of their surroundings and understand that strangers need to be avoided. Things to teach your children about stranger danger should include warnings about strange people asking help with directions or finding a lost dog. Children should also know never to accept any gifts or candy from strangers, and to never approach a stranger if they are lured into an interaction.
2. How to Handle Bullying
Bullying, both in-person and online, is becoming a social epidemic that affects children of all ages. As a parent you need to learn to recognize signs that your child is being bullied, and to teach your children how to properly handle the situation through teacher and disciplinarian action.
3. The Importance of Self-Esteem
One of the biggest defenses against bullying, peer pressure and academic stressors is a healthy self-esteem. Praise your children’s efforts and encourage their success, academically and in the home. While every child will become upset from time-to-time, having them know their abilities and strengths regularly will only help in the long run.
4. Good Manners
Manners are learned from a young age, with even the simplest expressions of “please” and “thank you.” And from the earliest stage of good manners comes respect for one’s elders and social etiquette. Teaching your children how to be polite and courteous in conversations and actions will set them up for a well-disciplined attitude that will only grow with them as they get older.
5. Chores and Responsibilities
Having to-do lists at home teaches children how to clean their own messes and the consequences of what would happen when they don’t. Or, if you’d like to look at it conversely, how they could perhaps be rewarded with a small allowance for completion of their chores.
6. The Value of a Dollar
While on the subject of your children’s allowance, it’s important to teach the kids the value of a hard-earned dollar while they are young. You can curb those I-wants at the market by showing your children how many chores they have to do to earn the money for a candy bar or a new toy. Encourage your children to save their money and spend wisely. Give your child a change jar or piggy bank and have them keep count of what they’ve earned and how long it has taken to earn it.
7. Encourage Exercise and Physical Activities
Childhood obesity is a growing concern in America and with good reason. While it’s important to instill love and acceptance of all body types when it comes to bullying, health should still be a concern. Make physical activities fun and engaging, not a punishment or a chore. Get the whole family involved for some roller skating or a bike ride around the neighborhood. Your children will be active, and so will you.
8. Differences without Judgment
Young children don’t understand what it means to hate another child for the same senseless reasons that adults choose to hate. Racism, sexism, bigotry towards sexual orientation or negative treatment of the physically or mentally impaired are learned behavior. This behavior is unfortunately enforced by peer pressures and social cliques in the classroom. Teach your children that being different isn’t weird, or scary, or wrong. Explain that we are all different to each other and that those children who look different from them need friends too!
9. It’s Okay to Be Themselves
Some kids are soccer players. Some like to paint. Some like to put on puppet shows for their younger siblings. Teach your children to embrace their hobbies as part of what makes them special. Encourage children to be active, social and creative. But above all, teach your children to be brave in their choices and discover what skills they have and all the ones they’d like to learn.
These life lessons are so important, and they must be first taught in the home. By instilling these lessons and virtues, you're setting your children up for a different kind of success. What lessons do you plan to teach your children as early as possible?