I recently learned that I’d failed in an area as a father, but didn’t know it until it was too late. My teenage son was away at college and got in his first accident. He called me and asked, “What do I need to do? Where do I find my registration?” I quickly realized he had no clue how to handle the basics of the situation. Out of all the important things to teach your child, I hadn’t actually taught him this.
There are multiple things our kids need to be taught that we easily forget or simply overlook as being trivial—until they need to know them. But what if we thought ahead and made a checklist of some important things we could teach our children? Here are 12 things to teach your child this year.
1. How to Introduce Oneself Properly
As they say, first impressions last the longest. One of the things to teach your child is how to introduce him or herself well and with confidence. A key to a good first introduction is making it less about yourself and more about getting to know the other person.
Pro Tip: Teach your children how to successfully introduce themselves using role play.
2. How to Act When Given Attention by the Opposite SexTeach your children how to continue being themselves no matter who they are around.
Many kids (especially boys) often don’t know how to respond when given attention by someone of the opposite sex. This can cause them to try acting silly, to show off, or to go completely mute.
Pro Tip: Teach your children how to continue being themselves no matter who they are around.
3. How to Speak to Adults
My 13-year-old recently had his first job interview, at a dairy farm. I reminded him how important it is that when interacting with an adult, he shakes hands with a firm grip, looks the person in the eyes, and speaks clearly by speaking up with confidence and without mumbling. Adults naturally respect young people who do these things.
Pro Tip: Teach your children how to carry themselves with professionalism and confidence around adults.
4. How to Manage a Checkbook
We live in a culture where many people no longer use a physical checkbook or even a budget, but it’s still an important practice to understand the value of how to manage money wisely by being able to balance the money you have.
Pro Tip: Teach your children how to develop a budget and balance their funds.
5. How to Do Basic Household Chores
All kids should learn from a young age how to fold laundry, set the table, wash dishes, clean their own rooms, mow the lawn, and so many other small things that many children are never required to learn. Teaching your child how to do routine household chores does not mean he or she has to be solely responsible for them in your home. But I guarantee your kid’s future spouse will thank you.
Pro Tip: Teach your children now how to do simple things around the house that they’ll have to do for the rest of their lives.
6. How to Do Routine Maintenance on a Vehicle
Sooner or later, your child is going to start driving. The financial savings and the resale value of their vehicle (or yours) may likely depend on how well he or she learns to maintain the vehicle from inside to outside to under the hood.
Pro Tip: Teach your children the importance and long-term benefits of a well-maintained vehicle.
7. How to Use Jumper Cables
I’ve met many young people who don’t have a clue why one handle is red and the other black. If your kids ever need jumper cables (and they will), this is handy information to know.
Pro Tip: Teach your children how to properly hook up the cables and jumpstart a car.
8. How to Handle a Car Accident
I learned this one the hard way. When my son asked where to find his registration, I told him it was the paper attached to his renewal sticker. He said, “Oh no! I think I threw that away.” (Dad fail!)
Pro-tip: Teach your children the basics of how to handle an accident by walking them through the details in advance.
9. How to Use Basic Tools
Every child should learn at a young age how to use a hammer, a screwdriver, and a drill properly.
Pro Tip: Teach your children how to use basic tools the next time you hang that picture or screw in that light switch plate.
10. How to Read and Follow a Map
In the age of smartphones and GPS, most of our kids will never have to use a paper map or an atlas again. We follow technology blindly, as if it’ll never fail us. However, it’s still good for our kids to learn how, in case they lose service for a little while and can’t use GPS, and so they can teach their own children someday.
Pro Tip: Teach your children how to identify highways, interstates, and exits on a map.
11. How to Take Good Pictures of Others
This might seem overly simple, but in an age when young people exclusively know how to take good selfies, teach them some of the basics of taking good pictures of others. This might include angles, spacing, cropping, and editing for good photos.
Pro Tip: Teach your children the value of taking good pictures of others more than just of themselves.
12. How to Schedule Appointments
As your kids get older, their schedules fill up more and more. With increased busyness can come increased responsibility. Your child should know how to call the doctor, the mechanic, or the school to set up an appointment or to ask a question.
Pro Tip: Teach your children how to schedule their own appointments by allowing them to do it (or making them).
Earn some points: Are you married? If so, share this iMOM article with your wife: 6 Questions to Ask Your Kids to Help Them Make Big Decisions.
Sound off: What are some other things to teach your child this year?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is one thing you’d like me to teach you this year?”