Our job as parents is to prepare our kids for the real world. Part of that is making sure they have the life skills they need. Here are 10 Life Skills Your Kids Should Know by 12.
When I look at Reese, I am amazed that a blink of an eye ago, she was just a tiny baby in my arms. Now, she’s growing up fast and I couldn’t be more proud. At age 12, she’s accomplished lots of things, including owning her own business and putting a nice dent in her future college bills. I try every day to be an inspiration to her and help her learn the things she needs to be a successful adult. Because I know when I blink again, that’s where she’ll be.
Kids need our guidance so they can be self-supportive. We’re doing them a huge disservice if we do everything for them. It’s so important to teach them life skills, and these are 10 of them that your kids should know to do without your help by the age of 12.
10 Life Skills Your Kids Should Know by 12
1. How money works
Kids are always excited to get money, but as they get bigger, they need to know the value of it. Teach your children how to count money. That’s great for little ones learning to count. As they get bigger, tell them what debit cards and credit cards do and show them the ancient art of writing a check. If you have old checkbooks lying around that are for closed accounts, let them practice on those. Don’t forget to teach them about saving money too. Have them wrap up their coins and take them to the bank.
One of the best things I ever did for Reese was got her comfortable making purchases in person and online using her Greenlight, the debit card for kids. She is able to learn the value of a dollar by completing chores on time while learning to save for things she wants like in the real world.
2. How to cook at least one meal & food safety
You can start now with your younger kids by teaching them simple food safety tips like always washing your hands after handling meats and eggs, how to slice food safely, how to use the toaster, and all the basics. By the age of 12, your kid should be making YOU food.
3. How to do a load of laundry
I read once that in China, college students would mail their clothes home to their parents to have them wash them. Not here! Teach your kids how to care for their own clothing. For younger ones, build up to it by having them help you sort clothes for loads. You can also have them help put their clothes away in their drawers and hanging up in their closet. Once they’re big enough to reach the dials and knobs on the washer and dryer, you can show them how to do the laundry. This one will come in handy!
4. How to look something up online
Remember asking your mom about something when you were a kid and she’d tell you to look it up in the encyclopedia? Today’s kids have it much easier, but they still need to learn research skills on how to best look up what they need to know online. Show younger kids when they ask you something you don’t know by looking it up on Google together. As your kids get bigger, they’ll know what to do because they watched you do it so many times. By 12, your kids should know exactly how to do detailed searches to find out about the topics they’re studying in school.
5. How to set and accomplish goals
Goal-setting is such an important skill, and ideally, we should teach it to our kids while they’re young. For example, in the summer, you can have your child set a goal for how many books they will read before school starts again. That’s a simple one, but a good one, plus it helps them see how setting a goal and working toward it can truly pay off. Learning this lesson with a simple goal like summer reading is a great way to help them get the hang of setting other goals and working toward them.
6. How to perform personal hygiene
By age 12, your kid should know how to groom themselves on their own. They might need your help styling their hair, but when it comes to washing hair, brushing it, bathing themselves, brushing their teeth, and all of that, they shouldn’t require your help. Additionally, if you have a daughter too, you should teach her about her period and how to use pads and tampons. She’s becoming a woman and needs to know what is and isn’t normal and how these things should work.
7. How to operate household appliances
Kids at age 12 should absolutely be able to microwave a mini-pizza for a snack, heat up leftovers or a can of soup on the stove, and run the dishwasher. They should also be able to vacuum. Show them how these things work and give them a try using them. For example, while vacuuming, ask your kid if they want to help and let them go for it. As they become more comfortable with things like this, you can make it part of their chores which they can earn money for…money they can save (like I mentioned in #4!).
8. How to find their way or give directions home
You never want to think about your kid getting lost. It’s certainly a scary thought, but if they know how to get home and know the address, they will always find their way. Even if things aren’t scary and their friend’s mom is giving them a ride home, your child should know how to tell her how to get home.
9. How to contact a family member in an emergency
Another thought we don’t like to think of as parents is what if something bad happens? Whether you’re not home or something has happened to you, your child should know by the age of 12 how to contact another family member, someone that isn’t living in your home if they need help. You shouldn’t just have them memorize your address and phone number but also a solid emergency contact in the family from the entire address and phone number to the full name of the person. Your kids need to know more than telling the police that they have an Aunt Cindy in Riverside.
10. Basic first aid and how to handle blood
Every kid should know how to clean and bandage a wound by the time they’re 12. Always keep your first aid kit stocked with the essentials and show your child how to use it. Teach them what to do if they or someone else is bleeding and go over examples of when they should call 911 for help if their attempts fail.
The best thing you can ever give your kids is the ability to rely on themselves and be confident as they grow up, these 10 Life Skills Your Kids Should Know by 12 are a great foundation to start with.