Confident kids can crumble when they leave home if they don’t have basic life skills under their belt.
Unpopular opinion, teaching kids how to “adult” when they are still kids is an important part of parenting. The last couple of weeks I have been seeing a lot of posts about kids going off to university. So many of these posts talk about the child being anxious and worrying about making friends and how to survive their new life at university.

Couple all those natural worries that come with moving to a new place with things like not knowing how to cook, not knowing how to push it, not knowing how to use a washing machine and other basic life skills. Suddenly that happy, confident kid you raised is a hot mess.

I’m sorry, but if you think it’s funny to post about your young adult, not knowing how to wash a frying pan, then you have failed as a parent to prepare them for life away from home.

I am all for kids, being kids, and having time to have fun, play, explore and learn at their own pace. But I also believe that a parent’s duty is to help prepare the child for adulthood. Unfortunately, many parents were not taught the skills as kids, so are not sure how to teach their kids.

2 teen boys doing laundry

If they can use an iPad, they can use a washing machine

If your child can confidently navigate their way to their favourite app and follow a sequence of events to win a game, build something etc. Then there is no reason why they can’t operate a washing machine, dishwasher or other similar device.

Like playing a game, there are some rules to follow and different conditions may mean using a different setting but it is no more complicated than growing wheat or making bread in Minecraft.

And just like learning to play a game, they don’t need to do everything in one sitting, they can practice, advancing to the next stage as they master the one they are on.

Let’s take laundry as an example. Depending on how you do it, the first lesson could be sorting the clothes into darks and lights. The next lesson could be loading the machine and adding detergent. The final one, deciding which program to run it on and why. Then you advance to the next stage… drying the laundry.

And yes, it takes a bit longer than just doing it by yourself but see it as an investment not only in time you will get back (when your confident kid can do the laundry for you) but also as one less thing for them to be anxious about when they leave home.

Teen girl fixing a bicycle tyre

Raising a confident kid as a problem solver

We live in an amazing age where pretty much any problem can be solved by the power of Google. As adults, we have years of experience and can usually tell from a quick scan whether the advice online is good or bad. It’s not just teaching your kids how to google but also how to sift through the rubbish.

  • Is it a reliable source?
  • Have you checked the comments?
  • Are there other posts sharing the same advice?

Having your kids help problem-solve at home. Anything from fixing a leaky tap to unblocking a drain. When something comes up, use it as a learning opportunity. Either teach them skills that you already have – maybe you are a whizz at unblocking the drain. Or have them help you find a solution.

Not only do things like this help with problem-solving skills but also with family bonding, working on problems together and celebrating when you find a solution.

Girl fixing a broken laptop

Teaching about money

This is a huge topic and I imagine many parents feel ill-equipped to teach their kids. Remember to go back to baby steps, your five-year-old doesn’t need to learn about how mortgages and credit rating works just yet!

Having a simple system of saving, spending, giving and budgeting pocket money or gift money into those three categories is a start then as they get older you can get them to learn about budgeting and more. To start with kids need to see money as a physical thing to make it tangible. Digital money is a concept that is much more difficult for a child to get their head around.

As a family, we started using You Need A Budget (read about it in this post) and I set up my son with his own budget. Admittedly, it took some time for him to be consistent with it. But over time he has got the hang of it and I’m now confident that when he leaves home he will have the budgeting down and it will be one less thing to worry about.

He gets an allowance from me, has a couple of part-time jobs and as we are in Japan, he often gets gifts of money rather than presents from relatives. He puts it all into YNAB and allocates it for whatever he needs. At the moment it’s mostly football, snowboarding trips and DJ-related things as well as going out with his mates. But he has the skills now to transfer to paying rent and bills.

As digital money becomes more popular it is much easier to overspend so having a system to keep tabs on everything is even more important. There are several apps for kids (depending on where you live) where you can give your kids an allowance digitally and monitor their spending, which is a good way to ease into it all.

I have a post with Money Mentor Denise Duffield Thomas here talking about teaching kids about money.

Mother teaching her children to cook at home

How to feed themselves

I think we can all agree that the cost of living is a bit bonkers at the moment, so surviving on take-outs and ready meals isn’t the most cost-efficient way to live. Imagine living somewhere totally new and not knowing how to cook even basic meals, then chances are that take-outs and Uber Eats are coming to the rescue!

Having a few basic, healthy recipes that can be cooked with minimal equipment can be a huge help when you are living somewhere new. Knowing basic cooking terms and how to use basic kitchen equipment is important too. Once you have those skills in your back pocket, it’s not as intimidating when you have to try a brand new recipe out.

I’m a big believer in getting toddlers in the kitchen as soon as they are able so that these skills can be built on over time. If you missed that window, it’s not too late, dedicate one meal a week to learning together. From deciding on the meal to shopping for ingredients and prepping and cooking it.

There are so many skills to be learned in the kitchen, from using a knife to time management to the science behind cooking to maths. It really is a great place to learn and having a confident kid who knows their way around the equipment is brilliant. (Take this from a mom of a child who can now cook up a storm!)

Wrap Up

It’s time to stop thinking that kids are losing out on their childhood because they are learning how to look after themselves. Instead, think of it in a way that you are helping them to be prepared for when they do leave home. You will be cutting their anxiety and worries down enormously because they will have the basics all under control.

Wondering what kind of things your child needs to know?
Grab the checklist here in the library

Don’t lose the info! save it and pin it!!

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