Preparing Your Kids For The Real World
Maybe sometimes I’m hard on my parents and a bit critical of them but the truth is that they did some smart things to prepare me for the real world. I still have friends who, in their thirties and forties, are completely shocked by some pretty standard parts of life, like health insurance terms and mortgage rates—or the percentage of a paycheck the government takes ahold of. It’s not like I love these parts of life but, luckily, my parents talked to me about them, and other similar “real world” things when I was younger so I’m not shocked by these parts of life. I’m grateful that they made an effort to make sure life didn’t knock me on my butt. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it still does sometimes, but not as bad as it would have if I weren’t prepared. Here are things you can do to prepare your kids for the real world.
Give them chores
Even if you have a housekeeper, still make your kids responsible for things like emptying the dishwasher, walking the dog, or folding the laundry. Learning how to manage being tidy at home along with other responsibilities will prevent them from being adults with extremely messy homes. Your kids may say they’re too busy with homework but the truth is that one day they’ll actually be busy with jobs and still need to keep their homes in order.
Make them get jobs
When your child is old enough, make him get a summer job or even an after school job. It’s good for teens to learn to interact with adults from a young age, and not always be in an environment where they get off the hook for bad behavior because they’re young. And having a job will teach them the value of a dollar (plus something about taxes).
Praise the right amount
Praise your kids the right amount. Your child doesn’t necessarily need a party thrown in his honor because he got an A on his paper. He can have an allowance bump or a special outing. The real world will not throw parades for someone who just does, well, basically what they’re supposed to.
Be honest about their fights with friends
When your child is crying about a fight with a friend, your instinct may be to tell her she’s right and the friend is wrong. But if your child clearly messed up, find a gentle way to explain that to her. Having a, “I’m never wrong” mentality won’t help her in the real world.
Expose them to a variety of income levels
Don’t isolate your children so that they only spend time with friends and families of a same income level as yours. Expose them to those less fortunate than themselves so they feel grateful. Expose them to those more fortunate so they learn to dream and be ambitious.
Expose them to a variety of cultures
Travel with your kids, however you can. Exposing them to other cultures will make them open-minded, and it will make them more adaptable to all sorts of situations and people when they’re older.
Don’t give them the answers
If your child is working on solving something—how to fix something or make something—don’t give him the answers. Don’t do it for him. Ask him questions that get him thinking but train him to do things for himself.
Teach them to do laundry
Do your child a favor and teach her how to use the laundry machines when she’s young. I can’t tell you how many kids go to college having no clue how to do laundry. While you’re at it, show them how to clean the filter of a vacuum and change the bag.
Teach them to cook
Teaching your children how to cook will help them not only be healthier eaters but also live a more budget-friendly lifestyle when they get older. Supervise them, of course, but make sure they know how to do simple things like boil rice and scramble eggs.
Have healthy competition among siblings
There will be competition in the real world. There will be several people vying for the things your child wants. Encouraging a little healthy competition amongst your kids, like offering a prize to the one who cleans his room the best, is good for them. They should learn to put their best foot forward, knowing that if they don’t someone else will.
Let them fail
Let your children fail. Even though you want to protect them from overreacting in certain situations in ways that might get them…fired from their internship or a friendship…know that it’s better they learn that valuable lesson young, when the consequences aren’t too bad.
Don’t make excuses for them
If your child messes up, don’t make excuses for him—to him, or to others involved. Acknowledge what he did wrong and make sure he does, too. In the real world, an employer won’t accept excuses.
Make them volunteer
Make your child volunteer. It will teach her about compassion and give her perspective.
Teach them how much things cost
Really show your kids how much things cost. Talk to them about how much something as simple as lunch at a restaurant costs, and how many hours they’d have to work to pay for that.
Make them express their feelings
Make your children communicate their feelings rather than scream and cry. Even if it’s clunky and uncomfortable at first, they’ll find power in using calm communication.