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In 2021, I’m focusing a lot on teaching my boys important life skills. These are just basic life skills for kids, but will serve them throughout their whole life.

6 simple life skills for kids that we’re working on in our home

This year we’re working a lot on our life skills. My boys are getting older and are very capable, so we’re working on teaching them basic life skills for kids that will stay with them their whole lives.

It may seem silly to teach them some of these life skills at such a young age (my boys are 10, 8, and 4), but teaching them now is the best time because then they become habits!

1. Good manners at the dinner table

Dinner is the only meal we eat together everyday, so it’s my one opportunity to teach them good table manners. These are a few we’re working on:

  • Chewing with your mouth closed
  • Not talking with food in your mouth
  • Asking others to pass items to you instead of reaching across the table
  • Not complaining about dinner
  • Wiping hands on napkins instead of on clothes
  • Eating with utensils instead of picking at food with fingers
  • How to use utensils properly to cut food
  • Asking to be excused if you’re the first to finish eating
  • Thanking the cook for dinner (they don’t have to mention if you liked the dinner unless they actually did enjoy the food, but we’re emphasizing that gratitude is important even if they didn’t like the food)
  • Clearing your own dishes
  • Staying to help clean up the table and the kitchen, not walking away and expecting others to do all the work.

This feels like a big list, but these are little things we have incorporated over time.

Here’s how I introduced this one; one night at dinner I said, “I’d like our family to work on our table manners this year.” I listed off two or three things I wanted our family to work on (never pointing fingers or calling out previous bad manners), and then gave an explanation of WHY these manners mattered. Here are two examples:

EXAMPLE #1: using a napkin to wipe our hands during dinner

Mom: “We’re going to work on wiping our hands on our napkins. If your fingers get dirty and you wipe them on your clothes, what happens to your clothes?”

Boys: “They get dirty.”

Mom: “Yes, and sometimes grease or other foods can stain your clothes. So where could we wipe them instead?” 

Boys: “On our napkins.” 

It’s a really simple dialogue, but it’s not just me preaching at them and them tuning me out.

EXAMPLE #2:

Mom: “Dinner is over, and you cleared all your own dishes, but there are still some things left to be done in the kitchen. Can you see what they are?”

Boys: “The pan from dinner is still on the table, the bowl of fruit is still on the table, and there are crumbs on the floor and the table.”

Mom: “If you walk out of the room right now, who will take care of those things?” 

Boys: “I don’t know.” 

Mom: “Exactly. Part of being in our family means we clean up after ourselves and don’t expect someone else to do it for us. Let’s look around and find three things we can clean or put away in the kitchen until everything is cleaned up. Then we can have more family time together after dinner!”

The boys have picked up on these so well and although there’s the occasional eye roll or groan, they’ve responded really well and their manners have drastically improved this year.

2. Buying groceries

Every time I bring my boys with me to the grocery store, I give them my list and have them call out what items we need to purchase. If they’re not in charge of the list, they’re in charge of collecting the items. As they’ve gotten older, I send them off to a nearby aisle to find an item, or we stick together and gather groceries.

They also love self check out, and we do it as often as we can so they learn how to scan items, bag them, and pay with my credit card. These are really simple life skills, but things that they won’t learn unless you intentionally teach them!

In the past few months, I’ve switched all of my grocery shopping to Walmart delivery because it saves me tons of time. So this year, I’ve delegated the task of ordering groceries to my two older boys. I’ve been sharing about this on Instagram and lots of you have been very interested in this, so I’ll be sharing more about how this works in a full post next week. Hang tight!

3. Unloading the dishwasher

This is the boys’ daily task when they get home from school. Every night after dinner, we load up the dishwasher and run its cycle so all the dishes are clean in the morning.

When the boys get home from school (usually after their snack), they’re in charge of unloading. They separate it into three sections (top, bottom, and silverware), and each boy is in charge of one section.

I think it’s so important for your kids to know how to load and unload the dishwasher (as basic as it sounds), and also to know where all the dishes go in your kitchen!

Also, if there are dishes that come out dirty, they know to put them in the sink so they can be cleaned by hand. Right now they’re not responsible for cleaning those, but maybe next year I’ll pass that to them!

4. Talking to adults

This is SUCH an important life skill, and one that I think kids should learn as early as possible. We started the practice of talking to adults at restaurants by having our kids order their own food. It’s simple, but can often be stressful for a child. That’s ok! The more you have them practice, the better they get. Something that helps our kids is to decide beforehand what they’d like to eat and circle it on their paper menu so they don’t forget when it’s their turn to order.

Here are some other things we’re teaching our children about speaking to adults:

  • Make eye contact
  • Say thank you if they give you a compliment
  • Speak clearly
  • Be humble if they’re asking about a recent event or accomplishment or just about school or life in general

I have to continually remind myself to let them do it, because as a parent I see them struggle or get nervous and then jump in and try to save them. They only learn and get more confident if you let them struggle a little bit!

5. Cooking and baking

I loved to cook and bake, and I try to include my kids as much as I can in the kitchen. I don’t expect them to cook dinner for the family yet, and I don’t expect them to become professional chefs, but teaching them to measure, stir, chop, blend, or stir are simple skills that will serve them their whole lives.

I wrote a whole post about how to make cooking with kids fun RIGHT HERE with some simple tips!

My biggest goal is to teach them to be confident in the kitchen. I don’t want them to be afraid of knives or hot ovens — I want them to have experience and knowledge so they can feel confident.

I teach them to follow recipes, push them out of their comfort zones a bit (my oldest was very nervous about reaching into a hot oven, but with oven mitts I show him that he can absolutely do it!), teach them to measure correctly, and of course they always get to be the taste tester.

6. Cleaning and laundry

I need to do a post about our Saturday jobs at some point, but I think learning to cleaning and laundry are two huge life skills that every kid deserves to have.

We have what we call “training” where I walk them through the process of cleaning a toilet, and then we go to another toilet and I supervise while they go through the same steps. Then the next week, if they need a training refresher, we repeat the process.

Now that my older boys are more proficient, they are often the “trainers” and teach our 4 year old how to do things.

Here are some cleaning and laundry things they’re responsible to do in our home:

  • Cleaning their bathroom toilets
  • Cleaning their bathroom sinks and mirrors
  • Sorting their laundry into darks and lights
  • Putting detergent in the washing machine and starting the washer/dryer
  • Sorting and folding their clean laundry
  • Putting their laundry away in their closets
  • Ironing their face masks (this is a job we’ve recently delegated to my older two and it’s a great place to start with learning how to use an iron).

There are so many other life skills for kids out there that we are trying to teach our kids, but here are a few that we’re specifically working on this year.

What would you add to this list that you’re working on with your family??

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE THESE POSTS!

6 Life Skills for Kids that I’m Teaching my Boys

life skills for kids

In 2021, I’m focusing a lot on teaching my boys important life skills. These are just basic life skills for kids, but will serve them throughout their whole life.

 

6 simple life skills for kids that we’re working on in our home

This year we’re working a lot on our life skills. My boys are getting older and are very capable, so we’re working on teaching them basic life skills for kids that will stay with them their whole lives.

It may seem silly to teach them some of these life skills at such a young age (my boys are 10, 8, and 4), but teaching them now is the best time because then they become habits!

 

1. Good manners at the dinner table

Dinner is the only meal we eat together everyday, so it’s my one opportunity to teach them good table manners. These are a few we’re working on:

  • Chewing with your mouth closed
  • Not talking with food in your mouth
  • Asking others to pass items to you instead of reaching across the table
  • Not complaining about dinner
  • Wiping hands on napkins instead of on clothes
  • Eating with utensils instead of picking at food with fingers
  • How to use utensils properly to cut food
  • Asking to be excused if you’re the first to finish eating
  • Thanking the cook for dinner (they don’t have to mention if you liked the dinner unless they actually did enjoy the food, but we’re emphasizing that gratitude is important even if they didn’t like the food)
  • Clearing your own dishes
  • Staying to help clean up the table and the kitchen, not walking away and expecting others to do all the work.

This feels like a big list, but these are little things we have incorporated over time.

Here’s how I introduced this one; one night at dinner I said, “I’d like our family to work on our table manners this year.” I listed off two or three things I wanted our family to work on (never pointing fingers or calling out previous bad manners), and then gave an explanation of WHY these manners mattered. Here are two examples:

EXAMPLE #1: using a napkin to wipe our hands during dinner

Mom: “We’re going to work on wiping our hands on our napkins. If your fingers get dirty and you wipe them on your clothes, what happens to your clothes?”

Boys: “They get dirty.”

Mom: “Yes, and sometimes grease or other foods can stain your clothes. So where could we wipe them instead?” 

Boys: “On our napkins.” 

It’s a really simple dialogue, but it’s not just me preaching at them and them tuning me out.

EXAMPLE #2:

Mom: “Dinner is over, and you cleared all your own dishes, but there are still some things left to be done in the kitchen. Can you see what they are?”

Boys: “The pan from dinner is still on the table, the bowl of fruit is still on the table, and there are crumbs on the floor and the table.”

Mom: “If you walk out of the room right now, who will take care of those things?” 

Boys: “I don’t know.” 

Mom: “Exactly. Part of being in our family means we clean up after ourselves and don’t expect someone else to do it for us. Let’s look around and find three things we can clean or put away in the kitchen until everything is cleaned up. Then we can have more family time together after dinner!”

The boys have picked up on these so well and although there’s the occasional eye roll or groan, they’ve responded really well and their manners have drastically improved this year.

 

2. Buying groceries

Every time I bring my boys with me to the grocery store, I give them my list and have them call out what items we need to purchase. If they’re not in charge of the list, they’re in charge of collecting the items. As they’ve gotten older, I send them off to a nearby aisle to find an item, or we stick together and gather groceries.

They also love self check out, and we do it as often as we can so they learn how to scan items, bag them, and pay with my credit card. These are really simple life skills, but things that they won’t learn unless you intentionally teach them!

In the past few months, I’ve switched all of my grocery shopping to Walmart delivery because it saves me tons of time. So this year, I’ve delegated the task of ordering groceries to my two older boys. I’ve been sharing about this on Instagram and lots of you have been very interested in this, so I’ll be sharing more about how this works in a full post next week. Hang tight!

 

3. Unloading the dishwasher

This is the boys’ daily task when they get home from school. Every night after dinner, we load up the dishwasher and run its cycle so all the dishes are clean in the morning.

When the boys get home from school (usually after their snack), they’re in charge of unloading. They separate it into three sections (top, bottom, and silverware), and each boy is in charge of one section.

I think it’s so important for your kids to know how to load and unload the dishwasher (as basic as it sounds), and also to know where all the dishes go in your kitchen!

Also, if there are dishes that come out dirty, they know to put them in the sink so they can be cleaned by hand. Right now they’re not responsible for cleaning those, but maybe next year I’ll pass that to them!

 

4. Talking to adults

This is SUCH an important life skill, and one that I think kids should learn as early as possible. We started the practice of talking to adults at restaurants by having our kids order their own food. It’s simple, but can often be stressful for a child. That’s ok! The more you have them practice, the better they get. Something that helps our kids is to decide beforehand what they’d like to eat and circle it on their paper menu so they don’t forget when it’s their turn to order.

Here are some other things we’re teaching our children about speaking to adults:

  • Make eye contact
  • Say thank you if they give you a compliment
  • Speak clearly
  • Be humble if they’re asking about a recent event or accomplishment or just about school or life in general

I have to continually remind myself to let them do it, because as a parent I see them struggle or get nervous and then jump in and try to save them. They only learn and get more confident if you let them struggle a little bit!

 

5. Cooking and baking

I loved to cook and bake, and I try to include my kids as much as I can in the kitchen. I don’t expect them to cook dinner for the family yet, and I don’t expect them to become professional chefs, but teaching them to measure, stir, chop, blend, or stir are simple skills that will serve them their whole lives.

I wrote a whole post about how to make cooking with kids fun RIGHT HERE with some simple tips!

My biggest goal is to teach them to be confident in the kitchen. I don’t want them to be afraid of knives or hot ovens — I want them to have experience and knowledge so they can feel confident.

I teach them to follow recipes, push them out of their comfort zones a bit (my oldest was very nervous about reaching into a hot oven, but with oven mitts I show him that he can absolutely do it!), teach them to measure correctly, and of course they always get to be the taste tester.

 

6. Cleaning and laundry

I need to do a post about our Saturday jobs at some point, but I think learning to cleaning and laundry are two huge life skills that every kid deserves to have.

We have what we call “training” where I walk them through the process of cleaning a toilet, and then we go to another toilet and I supervise while they go through the same steps. Then the next week, if they need a training refresher, we repeat the process.

Now that my older boys are more proficient, they are often the “trainers” and teach our 4 year old how to do things.

Here are some cleaning and laundry things they’re responsible to do in our home:

  • Cleaning their bathroom toilets
  • Cleaning their bathroom sinks and mirrors
  • Sorting their laundry into darks and lights
  • Putting detergent in the washing machine and starting the washer/dryer
  • Sorting and folding their clean laundry
  • Putting their laundry away in their closets
  • Ironing their face masks (this is a job we’ve recently delegated to my older two and it’s a great place to start with learning how to use an iron).

 

There are so many other life skills for kids out there that we are trying to teach our kids, but here are a few that we’re specifically working on this year.

What would you add to this list that you’re working on with your family??

 

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE THESE POSTS!

4 Comments

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