10 Things Your Kids Need To Be Able To Do On Their Own By High School
I recently shared something on my Facebook page that really struck me. 10 things that your kids need to be able to do on their own by middle school is this title of this article. (Read The Article HERE) Yes! Let’s set our kids free with loving and kind direction. Since I work mainly in a coaching, advisor, advocate, consultant and therapist role for students in their late years of high school, I found the list a great preliminary step to sending your children to college without much direction. So perhaps you read the list and your kids are high school or college-aged students and you are like “uh oh.” How am I going to instill these skills quickly to prepare my student to college? or how am I going to teach college ready skills to prepare my child to bravely and fearlessly enter university or the job market, ready – calm, cool and collected? So here is my list of things that will set your child free to become an “adult” or maybe “adultish” if that is a word (if not, you witnessed history as we coined it). These are what we call in popular education, “soft skills,” but they are imperative in making the transition from being a child to being an adult. These skills and ways of being will not only allow your child to succeed but allow him or her to thrive.
- How to balance being brave and being kind: Teach your child how to be tough, kind and brave. Like it or not we live in a world that will require your child to be brave in the face of unknown circumstances. We can prepare students for the millions of bad things we can anticipate but why we value courage and kindness is for the things we can’t predict. In fact, at first glance these seem contradictory but they are, in fact, closely related. Those that have an inner toughness do not react out of fear. The bravery fortifies them in the face of the unexpected and allows them to have a kind, measured response. Only experiences outside of cyberspace can truly build that balance.
- How to discover something incredible: Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. Allowing your student to pursue what he or she loves and ask kind and comforting questions is an imperative to creating a life-long learner. Just asking Google isn’t enough. Instill a real world inquisitiveness into your children. Ask them to describe things they see in nature or to study how something works. Kids have a natural curiosity and the great inventors in history never lost that amazing gift.
- How to be your own advocate: We have written a lot about the importance of being your own advocate (Like Here! or HERE!). Since our expectations of our young adults is at an all-time high, advocacy is a skill that can’t be ignored.
- How to read a map (both physically and in life): You don’t want to your student to get lost on college campuses so teach them how to use Google maps or the physical map of the campus, but also show them how to map out their future. In the words of the Cheshire cat, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. Your student may not know where he or she is going or know where he or she is going and not how to get there. We know all about mapping! Click Here For More About Educational Mapping!
- How to respectfully dissent: Your student in life and in college will brush up with people he or she disagrees with. And as the old cliche goes “I remember when I was young and knew everything!” your student may have very passionate opinions about what he or she holds dear. The other party may have the same level of commitment to their opinion. That is a huge shock of the students I work with. “Where did these people come from and how do I express my disagreement and not my rage?” (OK they don’t say it exactly like that, but you get the point). Encourage dissent in your home, dealing with small dissent and allowing for civil argument will sharpen and hone your student’s mind for the world. Do they not want to argue and become passive aggressive? This can be common in your teenager, but when they have calmed down, have a talk and again encourage that calm and kind dissent.
- How/When to say No and Yes: I am a big proponent of saying yes and saying no based on your own preference. What does this even mean, you may ask? Your student should know what he or she feels comfortable doing and not doing and know how to say yes or no based on these circumstances. Go through scenarios in their own life and propose hypotheticals on not just what they would say no to, but how they would say no. Peer pressure is a huge problem for young adults and can severely impact their decision making abilities. Encourage them to make decisions for their own best interest. As someone who jumped off a cliff because their friends did, I can tell you this is an important lesson to learn. (ouch!)
- How to Deal with Something Tragic: Whether it is their first heartbreak, bounced check or something direr, dealing with sadness and despair is something that students must know before college and for life. As we know, life can be a perilous place. Even talking about the news can better prepare your student for the unknown tragedy.
- How to Take Care of His or Herself Physically, Emotionally and Mentally: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ― Audre Lorde I was just speaking to a client about the importance of putting your own oxygen mask first and he was shocked of the importance I place on this. I put a high value on teaching a student how and when to sleep, get some physical activity, do some meditation and have alone time. This directly impacts studying and success in school and frankly in life. Today’s teens and young adults have grown up constantly connected. Social networks, instant chatting, texting (depending on your age, this wasn’t a “thing” in your teen years) in a an always “on” world has made it so they don’t even know how to unplug. Grab their phone when they don’t expect it and watch the reaction. Yeah, that isn’t good. Teach them to unplug and take care of their own needs.
- How to be a Good Employee and How to be a Good Boss: Parents, this will be a big newsflash; you are your kid’s first boss. What? YES. You must understand this and be fair and tough, which you probably are. But, you can’t fire them. Give your child the opportunity to challenge your authority in an appropriate way. That means presenting their ideas and opinions in a thought out way, not a screaming match. When it comes to teachers they are also great examples of bosses, and it is so great to teach your student to manage up. Teaching to manage your teacher’s expectations by effective communication and managing expectations can help them manage bosses and even employee’s decades down the line.
- Be Kind above all: No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. When in doubt, kindness should prevail. Model kindness, kindness to his or herself, her body, his friends, her peers, her teachers, his pets, etc. There is nothing in life that shouldn’t be the recipient of kindness. If you teach your child one thing, before balancing a checkbook, separating the whites from the colored clothes and making their own schedule, teach them to be kind, to themselves FIRST and then the rest will follow.
I am writing this list to stress the importance of teaching your child how to acquire knowledge in the most profound and impactful way. Anything can be taught if the student knows how to learn and how to take care of him or herself. If the student is happy, healthy, wise, kind and curious, amazing things can happen.