Today’s Children: 10 Things They Need to Know


ChildrenIn today’s world of two working parents, single parents and life in the fast lane, there are 10 life skills that children need to know. It is hard enough to get by in today’s economy, however, taking just a few hours a week will enhance a child’s life and give them skills to last a lifetime.

1) In this day of technology everywhere, it is becoming more and more acceptable to stay inside and play video games. The older they get, the more they text, ceasing to interact on a human level. Each week should include playing outside – spring, summer, fall and winter. Outdoor activities help stimulate the side of the brain that is not used when engaged in electronic play. Times are changing and many children are tethered to electronic devices, be they video games or cell phones. Let’s not forget the good, old-fashioned art of playing outside.

2) Many families live on fast food or processed food which cooks quickly in a microwave, saves time and lets parents spend more time with the kids rather than cooking. Let’s not forget that one of the most intimate of experiences can be teaching a child to cook.  Cook a dinner together using fresh ingredients instead of meals out of a box or can.  Make Friday night pizza night, and make it instead of ordering it. Everything that is taught to a child will carry that child through no matter where life takes them.

3) Baking can be rewarding and is as simple as making chocolate chip cookies from scratch instead of frozen blocks. Many baked goods only take 15 minutes of prep, while giving children a life skill they will pass on to their kids is priceless.

Children4) Make Wednesday night game night, and bust out the board games. There are so many to choose from, and a family that plays together stays together. From Candy Land for the young, to Yahtzee or Life for the older children, many will be surprised at how a child opens up and gains communication skills from good old-fashioned playing

5) The one thing that many children lack these days is manners, and not just ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Using words to convey respect for the adults around them is an important life skill. Kids will inevitably have meltdowns, but how they are handled is another thing completely. Teach children respect for others by respecting their needs and treating them with respect in front of others. Punishments should be handled in the privacy of the home.

6) Teaching independence seems to be something learned outside of the home these days. Handling big sleepovers or going camping in order to learn to fend for themselves are invaluable life skills. Respect for others and nature is just one of the side effects that are readily learned when children are placed in situations where they have to think for themselves without the ability to look it up on the Internet.

7) Parents work hard and put in long hours, and it is not always possible to sit at the table for a family meal. Sit-down dinners give everyone the opportunity to communicate without the distractions of TVs and computers.

8) One of the hardest things to instill in children are values and morals, and they can be learned simply by observing these principles within their families. Treating others with respect will translate to family members, friends and future employers and coworkers.

9) The art of conversation is so important, but burying their heads in video games or the Internet will not give children the life skills needed to get a job in the future. Take time to talk and have them bring their friends over instead of letting them just communicate over the phone. Texting does not always grant the ability to communicate effectively, much less enhance writing skills.

10) There may come a time when one has to fend for themselves, and learning to garden will teach an invaluable set of life skills. Learning to live off the land is a lost art and one children should experience. If there is no room for a garden, then consider a garden box or planter, but instead of flowers, plant tomatoes or cucumbers. Each will do well in containers, and watching how things grow and then being able to eat them will give children skills for a sustainable lifestyle. Somehow, many get into the rut of eating more preservatives than actual food, and that is a habit worth breaking.

Opinion by Kristi Cereska

Food Network
University of Illinois

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