Do you remember all the life lessons you were taught as a young child? As the first teachers, we as parents have unique powers in shaping our children’s behaviors before the rest of the world gets to them.
It seems everyone has an opinion on what and how soon a child should know something about social behaviors, daily living, or relationships with others. But there are some things that are so common that most of these sources will toss their two cents into some of the same buckets.
I’ve found those buckets have to do with the tender age of 10. This pre-teenish, awkward time right before your kid hits the teen years may cause flashbacks. What did you know already? What do you wish you knew by that age?
Taking this into consideration, here are some things I’m working to impart on my child by age 10.
Basic First Aid
I’ve taught them how and when to call 9-1-1. When they watch me nurse their cuts and boo-boos, I show them how to properly sanitize and bandage a wound so they can one day do it for themselves—and possibly another family member.
How to Be a Gracious Winner or Loser
“In your face!” is all fun and games at home, but when around others, it may not be taken so lightly. Sore winners like to gloat and tease and sore losers get angry or sad. Chances are you’ve seen both sides in the same kid.
When one of my kids came home upset about losing a game at recess, I sat down with him to explain why people sometimes win (luck, determination), but it’s not always that way—that being a good sport means saying “good game,” and knowing it’s just a game.
Ownership and Consequences
This is a big one and many kids learn from the adults around them. Allow your kids to accept responsibility for their choices and actions. Being overprotective or letting them be unaccountable will make you both miserable as they get older.
Don’t let the blame game become the norm. We have a list of consequences on the wall for dishonesty or breaking the rules that we follow through with. It also might help to give an example by sharing a personal anecdote on personal responsibility.
Not Caving to Peer Pressure
It’s normal for kids to want to feel accepted, which falls under the umbrella of approval-seeking behavior. To help learn to handle peer pressure, I’m working to teach them how to say “no,” and to have confidence in themselves and their own abilities.
How to do this? Point out examples of peer pressure and what a healthy versus unhealthy friendship looks like so that he’ll choose to stick with friends who accept him for who he is.
Washing, folding, and putting away laundry is a chore that can be shared starting around age 6. The last thing I wanted to do was to wait a week before my kids left for college to show her how to do laundry! In the beginning, it’s all about giving small tasks, building up to washing and drying, then a complete cycle. They’ll get it. Promise.
Respect and Value DiversityTipHero
We live in a world where different types of families and individuals exist. Being polite and respectful to other kids regardless of who they are is essential. In the real world, your child will see someone with a physical disability, who is elderly, who comes from a different ethnic background, or whose family structure is not like her own.
Teaching your child to respect others who may look, live, eat, or act differently from what she is used to is a pathway to having an open mind and heart, and being accepting of others.
Speak Up or Advocate for Themselves
Not every child finds it easy to speak up, and each has his or her own reasons. Shyness, anxiety, or passiveness all play a role. As situations arose, I realized my children might not feel comfortable asking for help or standing up for themselves socially without being aggressive.
To fix this, we started practicing role-playing (e.g., bullying) while encouraging them to speak up about academics or physical needs. Most importantly, I let them know it’s important to ask for help and to have confidence to speak up.
Digital Safety and Etiquette
By age 10, many kids are already plugged in through one or more devices. Gaming, phones, social media, and the internet in general provide many opportunities to either engage in or become a victim of bad behavior.
We keep the discussion about online bullying, predators, website safety, texting, and other dangers of being digitally connected pretty open. It’s important my kids know about privacy, scammers, and unsavory characters as a reality of using these devices.
Birthday money and allowances can often burn the pockets of little ones who have dreams of toys dancing through their heads. Teaching kids how to save and make wise spending choices is something that can be done from an early age.
To do this, I’ve created two separate jars for each of my children: one for saving and one for small splurges. It’s a great visual way to help them watch their funds grow over time and learn when is the best time to spend.
So much beauty exists in wildlife, plants, and other parts of the home we call Earth. The last time we came into contact with litter, I explained how tossing garbage anywhere doesn’t contribute to that beauty.
Take it one step further and encourage exploration of nature through gardening, outdoor activities, and observing animals. Teach your child about conservation, recycling, and their place in the world as a human.
Having compassion and understanding for others is not so foreign to toddlers, but it can be challenging for older children to hang onto that. I’ve found one of the best ways to cultivate empathy is through reminding my kiddo to put himself in someone else’s shoes. It winds up teaching kindness, patience, consideration, and sensitivity to others’ needs.
Part of parenting requires you to learn on the job and embrace situations as they arise. You can also be proactive so that when the time comes for your babies to show some maturity, they’ll have a head start. Raising kind, independent, self-aware adults isn’t easy, but getting an early jump on it goes a long way!
What life lessons have you taught your children early? Which areas have been a struggle for you and your child?