By the time your child turns ten, you may have started teaching them responsibilities, assigned weekly chores, and started discussing whether they are old enough to stay home alone for a few minutes at a time. In the middle of their tween years, ten year olds are ready to begin taking on more responsibilities.
Krystal Laws, Olathe mother of seven, says, “Parents can think about where they would like their kids to be at age 18 then go back every few years making goals to work up to independence as an adult. Having a vision for where you’re headed really helps in knowing what to work on at various ages.”
What are some basic skills kids can learn before ten? Here are some ideas:
Basic household tasks
Teach your child some basic household tasks. If you are busy, out of the house, or under the weather your child should be able to make himself a sandwich, pack a sack lunch for school, and be able prepare a small meal in the microwave. It is also good to teach your kids how to do laundry, run the dishwasher, and how to clean up a spill.
Keeping our kids safe is a huge priority for parents. At a young age, we begin to teach them how to safely cross the street, bike and road safety, and to be aware of strangers. By ten, parents should take it one step further by teaching kids about internet safety and what to do in case of an emergency. “I want them to be safe mentally and physically.” says Lisa Parrish, mother of three. “They should know how to use the phone, procedures for being home alone or in emergencies, safe touch, and that no means no.” Kids approaching ten should also know basic first aid and when to call 911.
Proper hygiene and self grooming
Ten year olds should understand the importance of good hygiene and how to care for their own body and hair. Frequent showers, proper face and hand washing, and wearing deodorant are good habits to get into as the changing hormones of the teen years approach.
Budgeting and saving
Ten years old is a great time to introduce basic budgeting skills. Kids can learn to pick something out that they would like to purchase, research the cost, and begin saving for it. This helps teach them delayed gratification, the value of the dollar, the reward for hard work, and also how to budget and save for things that they want. This skill will be necessary as they plan for larger purchases in adulthood.
Problem solving skills
When presented with a problem, children often look to the adults in their lives to solve the problem. Rather than giving your child the answer to the problem, why not let them try to work it out themselves? The problem solving skills learned early will benefit them as they grow older. You can also present your child with different scenarios and ask them what they would do. Ask your child – If you get lost, what should you do? What if you forget your lunch at home? What if you see another child getting teased? If there is a fire in the house, what should you do? Working through different scenarios and practicing problem solving skills will help your child build confidence for when they are faced with a problem.
Value of hard work
Kids need to know the value of hard work, especially as they head off to college or into the workplace. Even middle and high school require a higher level of study habits. Developing good study habits also helps kids learn that their dedication pays off when they receive good grades because of it. To prepare your child for the workforce, assign chores that work towards a family goal, like putting in a garden for everyone to enjoy, or saving up allowance to work towards something they would like to purchase will show them the long-term payoff of hard work.
Proper etiquette and speaking skills
Ten year olds should know how to treat other people respectfully, approach adults in public, have proper phone etiquette, know how to shake hands, and express gratitude when someone gives them a gift or does something for them. With so much electronic communication, we must teach our children that when having face to face conversations, it is polite to use proper language rather than text speak. “Kids this age should know the Golden Rule and treat others the way they’d like to be treated,” says Laura Fenner, Olathe mother of four. Ten year olds can build confidence in this area by practicing public speaking and participating in sports or recitals.
Caring for others
Kids learn a lot when given the responsibility of taking care of something or someone else. Examples could be a pet, garden or plants, or helping with younger children. This helps teach them responsibility and selflessness.
Kids this age can be taught outdoor safety. Fire safety, how to use a map and compass, what poison ivy looks like, and water safety are all good examples. Teaching them these skills encourages them to find outdoor activities that they enjoy. Again, as we face competition with the screen, teaching kids how to be safe when pursuing outdoor activities may open a love of the outdoors they have not yet experienced.
The importance of a healthy diet and routine exercise is never too early to learn. While they may not be preparing entire meals at age ten, they do need to know that potato chips are not a well balanced lunch. Kids should also be able to listen to their bodies so they can tell you if they are unwell and what is wrong. Healthy sleep habits and a good diet can help them perform better in school and improve their moods. Kids should also be able to manage their emotions and calm themselves when needed.
These skills are a guideline as every child and every family is unique. You may find that in your family you value certain skills over others or that some of these were learned some time ago. “Be flexible with your plan to teach life skills,” says Laws, “Everyone learns at a different pace.”
Sarah Lyons is a freelance writer and stay at home mom to six kids, including three-year-old triplets.