I recently shared an article on my Facebook page titled "8 Things Kids Need to Do For Themselves Before Age 13." It was a nice list of functional life skills, and I agreed with the idea that our kids need to learn how to do laundry and pack a lunch. But as I read the list, I thought some things were missing, for sure. Here's the original list:
1. Waking them up in the morning
2. Making their breakfast and packing their lunch
3. Filling out their paperwork
4. Delivering their forgotten items
5.Making their failure to plan your emergency
6. Doing all of their laundry
7. Emailing and calling their teachers and coaches
8. Meddling in their academics
Missing from this list are vital emotional and interpersonal skills. With outstanding social skills, our kids can communicate their needs and get help with the functional tasks they don't know how to do. And being a grown up is about more that doing your own laundry; our kids need to clean up their own interpersonal messes, too.
8 Things Kids Need to Master By 13
1. Choose kindness over popularity. We teach young kids to share and choose their words carefully, but teens face new pressures. Peers encourage them to exclude someone, or post a cruel comment on social media.
2. Recognize the harm from gossiping. Teens are social creatures, and it's natural for them to want to talk about their experiences. But we have to teach them that gossip hurts.
3. Name your feelings . Being able to name feeling prevents acting on them instead. Naming feelings is a vital skill for the teen years.
4. Stand up for what is right. Our children need to become people of principle as they enter the teens years. Upstanding has been shown to protect kids from bullying. Standing up is important for both.
5. Walk away from trouble. Trouble can take the form of underage drinking, skirting rules, or a wide range of other possibilities. We have to teach our kids what to say and when so they're prepared when they find themselves on the cusp of a friend's bad choice, or their own.
6. Take responsibility for your mistakes. Nobody is right all the time. We have to teach our kids how to own their screw ups and make right their wrongs.
7. Become skillful at trying hard. Hard work is a skill. Kids naturally choose what's easy most of the time. By 13, they need to learn the rewards of hard work.
8. Know when to ask for help. This may be the most important skill of all for a teen: know when you need help, and know how to ask. Teens love their independence, but they need help sometimes.