Fun Ways to Teach Kids Life Skills

Today I’m excited to bring you a guest post on an important parenting topic from mom blogger, Jackie Nunes. In this post, Jackie explains why it is important to be teaching our kids life skills starting when they’re young all the way through those teen years, and she gives us some practical ways to do that. 

*This post contains affiliate links where I earn a small commission at no cost to you.

teach kids life skills

Without further ado, here is what Jackie says about Encouraging Adulting: Fun Ways to Teach Kids Life Skills.

To millennials and the now-adolescent Gen Z, things like paying bills, making dinner, scheduling doctor appointments, and mopping a floor are no longer simply daily tasks – they’re “adulting.”

An all-encompassing term for fulfilling mature responsibilities, adulting speaks to the transition from youth to adulthood and the many steps that come with this process. The problem? Many schools, colleges, and preparatory programs – and parents! – ignore adulting skills, leaving young adults wheeling on a precipice of uncertainty when the time comes to leave the nest. Things like cooking pasta, changing a tire, or even buying stamps are completely foreign, leaving otherwise bright teens and 20-somethings with no idea how to live life like a grownup.

Whether your child is neurotypical, gifted, or has special needs, a little preparation for the world that lies ahead is never a bad thing. These fun methods for teaching adulting can help prepare your child for the wide world of life after high school.

Curing a Fear of the Kitchen

In a world dominated by fast food and meal delivery services, fewer families are cooking on a regular basis – and fewer families are teaching their children how to cook. One survey found that 50% of millennials claim to be unable to roast a chicken and only 5% consider themselves good at cooking. To combat an onslaught of calls from your child’s dorm asking questions about boiling water, start cooking instruction early.

While there’s no need for your child to cook every meal, get him started on the right track by urging his involvement whenever requests are made.

For Older Children: For example, if your children ask for spaghetti and meatballs, let them know that they’ll need to help you. This correlation between a beloved meal and a little extra effort can go a long way, helping kids learn basic skills as well as how to make their favorites. Make sure you explain any part of the process that your child isn’t participating in, like the use of breadcrumbs to help meatballs stick together or dicing tomatoes to make sauce.

For Younger Children: Consider asking your children to collect ingredients for you from the fridge or cupboards, and maybe even allow them to do the mixing if they’re able so that they understand what goes into each meal.

Making Personal Finance Fun

The vast majority of young people don’t know how to handle basic financial tasks, like filing taxes, making budgets, balancing a checkbook, or even opening a bank account. An early lack of knowledge in these areas can unfortunately lead to poor choices down the line, like overspending on credit cards or penalties for forgetting to send in a tax return.

For older children: Get your youngsters off on the right foot by taking them with you to the bank to open a savings account of their own. Go through the paperwork and the process – it’s boring, but necessary – and be sure to review statements every month to show how their money is growing. You also might want to point out “fine print” and explain the importance of reading contracts before signing. To keep them engaged, consider setting savings benchmarks motivated by rewards, with goals like a certain amount of interest earned or a deposit total corresponding to a trip to get ice cream or a new trinket. When your children associate financial responsibility with benefits, this will create healthy habits for the future.

For younger children: use piggy banks, teach the value of a dollar by manually rolling coins rather than going to a machine. The process can be a fun rainy day activity, and physically counting every last cent drives home the point that small amounts add up.

Teaching Household Skills

Things like changing a light bulb or turning off the water at the base of an appliance may seem simple, but for children and teens without any exposure, these tasks are like magic.

Rather than tackling household maintenance and cleaning projects on your own, bring your children into the loop. Ask them to help you select tools, get things like light bulbs from where you store them, or help with small tasks like using a level to hang a picture.

While doing so, consider adding little lessons into the process, like explaining an electrical circuit when screwing in a new light bulb. These jobs are small but can create a lasting impression, especially when paired with the science behind a simple action. This same logic can be applied to vehicle-related tasks, too; explaining how changing (or not changing) the oil affects a car can make the importance hit home for teenagers getting ready for a first set of wheels.

If you have any construction projects coming up, get your kids involved, even if just a little. You can work together to build something as small as a birdhouse or something as ambitious as a deck or a greenhouse. Things like hitting a nail with a hammer or tightening a nut around a bolt can show children that, yes, anyone can take care of minor maintenance.

Instilling Personal Responsibility

The process of teaching a child to rely on himself, not on you, is rarely a fun endeavor, but it can be a critical part of making sure your child masters the art of adulting when the time comes. This process can take many forms depending on the age of your child(ren), but may include things like:

  • Asking your child to make phone calls to places like the library or to check up on a job application rather than doing it for her.
  • Promoting life skills classes like CPR courses to make sure the importance of safety is emphasized.
  • Encouraging your child to use his own money to make small purchases so he understands the value of a dollar.
  • Allowing your child to do her own school projects with guidance but minimal hands-on help.
  • Assigning chores and ensuring they are completed in a timely manner, whether through loss of privilege if things go wrong or rewards when deadlines are met.

As a parent, it’s natural to want to protect your child and make her life as easy as possible – and, within reason, this is absolutely okay. However, there’s a boundary. Regardless of circumstances, parents should not interfere with natural consequences; if your child makes a mistake, it is up to her to process the ramifications, not for you to attempt to circumvent them.

The process of adulting is never easy, but a little head start can make a big difference. By helping your children navigate kitchen skills, financial principles, household tasks, and the basic tenets of personal responsibility, it’s possible to set them on a path for success – and have fun while doing it!

To learn more about Jackie and what she’s passionate about visit her blog, Wondermoms.

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And if you have more ideas on how to teach kids life skills, please leave them in the comments below.

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