9 Basic Life Skills You Should Be Teaching Your 3 – 5 Year-Old

Young children are quite impressionable and often eager to learn and try new things. That’s why you should make the most use of their early years to lay the proper foundation to prepare them adequately for the life ahead. Here are a few basic life skills to keep on your radar…

1. Independence

Introduce age-appropriate house chores from time to time and supervise until skills are perfected. Some chores to introduce from 3 years include running simple errands within the house (5-year-olds should be able to run short errands outside the house), sorting dirty laundry, folding simple pieces of laundry, scraping leftovers from their plates into the trash bin after eating, learning to make their bed and set the table, clean, sort and put away toys.

You should also hone self care skills by allowing them dress and undress themselves, put on their shoes, tie their shoe laces, comb their hair and brush their teeth from age 3, even if you have to put finishing touches.

2. Self discipline

Teaching self discipline from as early as possible will ensure they can regulate their behaviour/actions and act appropriately whether you are there to breathe down their necks or not. The best way to do this is to set clear and age-appropriate rules to guide their behaviour, set expectations about assigned house chores, homework, sleep habits, play and so on.

Desist from nagging, bribing, begging or issuing empty threats and instead, enforce consequences consistently.

READ ALSO: 12 Basic Manners You Should Be Teaching Your Kids

3. Confidence

This can be developed by honing their social and communication skills. Get them to actively interact with other children and adults at the club, functions, school, church, maintaining eye-contact. Also, arrange play dates and let them speak for themselves while in public. See more tips here and here.

Avoid labelling, demeaning, shaming and other acts that may ruin their self esteem.

4. Safety skills

In these dangerous times, every little thing you can do to teach your little cuties how to be safe in your absence, may come in handy at any point. Teach basic sexuality education to protect them from potential predators (see how here) and let them learn your phone number by heart. Also teach how to interact with strangers, say ‘no’ and mean it, and call/shout for help.

You may also consider martial arts classes for your 4 – 5 year old to teach self defense skills.

READ ALSO: Top Ways to Instill Proper Social Etiquette in Your Child

5. Hygiene

If you want to raise a child who takes proper personal hygiene seriously, start teaching basic skills from as early as possible so it becomes a part of them from an early age.

Teach your 3 – 4 year old how to blow their nose, wash and dry their hands properly, start teaching how to clean their privates properly, fetch rags or mops to wipe up a spill, brush their teeth and so on.

6. Manners & social skills

A child who is sociable and has proper etiquette is always admired and easily distinguished from the crowd – and they take these into adulthood. Teach your child how to share, greet, talk politely and apologise. ‘Hello’, ‘Goodbye’, ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, ‘I’m sorry’ are basics your 3-year-old should learn to use when appropriate. 4-5-year-olds should be able to use these when necessary without any prodding and have learned how to take turns in a conversation.

Also, start teaching proper table manners (see here) through regular modelling.

7. Savings

Get your child a piggy bank from 2 years and teach the importance of savings. Let him learn to control impulses to spend money gifted by visitors, friends and family, and instead save in a transparent piggy bank – he’ll be thrilled to watch his money grow. You may offer additional money to keep away often as a form of encouragement. If he earns an allowance, also teach the importance of keeping a fraction of it away.

8. Time management

As the saying goes, time is money, and your child needs to realize this from as early as possible. Teach them the importance of punctuality and accomplishing tasks within set time frames. Start by ensuring they complete assigned daily tasks (chores, homework) within a set time frame and enforce consequences for defaulting.

9. Conflict resolution

Also teach how to resolve conflicts with peers and siblings without always running to you. Teach them to stand up for themselves, avoid/control aggressive emotions and respect others’ feelings before speaking or acting to prevent escalating issues.

If they have younger or older siblings, you can help them learn conflict resolution, self control and emotion regulation skills by allowing them resolve their issues independently when your intervention is not really necessary.

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