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5 Life lessons All Kids Need To Learn

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August 18 2010

5 Lessons Kids Need To Learn
Kids is a broad term.
When I think ‘kids’ I think toddlers to High School Seniors.
When I think of the 5 lessons every kid needs to learn, I think of 5 Life Lessons that will help him/her grow emotional resilience and maturity, because without that nothing else will matter.
Therefore, I offer the following lessons in developmental sequence.

#1. We can help kids learn
how to share their possessions, their time, and their friendship. Learning to share with another child less fortunate fosters empathy. Learning to sharing generates generosity and openness of spirit. Learning to share also establishes that a child does not exist solo, is part of a larger entity and connected by common goals and events. Learning to share helps a child understand that he/she can survive giving up part of a whole. And the ability to give away total ownership develops emotional resilience as well as trust that there will always be more to have and to share.

#2. We can help kids learn
how to care for themselves and keep physically safe. Learning the skills necessary to avoid physical danger helps nurture instincts. Picking up cues from people and situations, following important safety rules, and making it a habit to have healthy suspicions of strangers will aid in discerning positive from negative environments, as well as ill intentioned individuals when kids are older and out on their own. Learning how to reach out for help, deal with unexpected emergencies will add to a child’s feeling that he/she can survive and overcome, and build his/her self-confidence.

#3. We can help kids learn
how to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. Learning to take responsibility helps form analytical thought as well as patience. If kids spend all their allowance at once, they will have to live with that decision even if they quickly lose interest in their choice. They might think differently next time and wait for a bigger, better option. A child needs to develop patience in order to weigh options and think through a decision. Learning to take responsibility also teaches cause and effect and that there are consequences to behavior and actions. Are they really willing to pay the consequences for their actions and/or their decisions?

Allowing kids to make small decisions and take responsibility for the consequences, also teaches
sacrifice-what are they willing to give up for their choice? Are they willing to trade some fun activities in order to practice; some vacations in order to compete; some candy in order to buy something for another family member or friend’s birthday, or some free time in order to walk their dog?

And finally, taking responsibility develops
strength of character. It will teach kids how to admit to and learn from mistakes. Taking responsibility means facing truth and overcoming fear of reaction and guilt Learning how not to run away or avoid, lie or cheat, try to cover or blame creates a foundation of ethics. And, if a child can own up to a failing or to a misdeed, he/she is beginning the climb towards emotional maturity.

#4. We can help kids learn
how to navigate tough choices and make tough decisions. A tough decision is a right and/or necessary decision, but usually at some cost. When to report a friend? When to refuse to engage in a particular peer activity? When to say no to getting into a car? There are right answers to these questions, but they remain hard choices. Most teens will have to face at least one. The more practice kids have making tough decisions, the stronger they become emotionally.

#5. We can help kids learn
how to establish firm bottom lines. Kids need to put a value on their beings and bodies, understand the loss of control and privacy when drunk or high. They need to learn to recognize when a boyfriend/girlfriend is no longer a positive influence; when ‘group think’ becomes dangerous; when a relationship is controlling rather than loving; and what to do when someone has crossed their bottom line. They need to begin to define who they are, have respect for themselves and work towards having the courage to defend and protect what they believe to be important and just.

If very young children
learn to share; if school age kids nurture instincts and keep physically safe; if early adolescents have practice taking responsibility for actions and decisions; if older teens tackle tough choices; and if graduating seniors define firm bottom lines before they turn 18 and/or go off to college, then ‘kids’ will be empathetic and just, self-confident and active, emotional resilient and optimistic upon entering young adulthood.

Margo Judge

Emotional Resilience & Readiness for Enduring Success

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