There is a huge debate going on about what age do we start teaching our young independence and life skills. As adults, be we friends of the parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents or the parents, we all know that our kids are individuals and that they develop at different rates and excel in different areas. That’s human nature. However, I was quite shocked to discover my niece doesn’t even know how to correctly peel and mash a potato. She’s 15.
With fewer than 1 in 7 of us knowing what Laundry Symbols mean, it seems it’s not only the young that are falling behind previous generations. However, there are limits to what we should and shouldn’t teach our kids, and when. For example, I wouldn’t teach a 5 year old how to use an iron, that would just be reckless and dangerous. However, I would expect a 12 year old to learn how to use one.
It all has to start when they are young. Manners being the most important, as they will need these from cradle to grave. Picking up toys after playing, putting rubbish in the bin, clearing up plates after dinner, I’d expect a 5 year old to be able to manage that.
As they get older, start introducing them to new things, such as being able to use the toaster safely and the microwave, then as the develop further, helping you in the kitchen preparing dinner, learning recipes and the importance of cooking food properly.
Then there’s general chores, such as keeping their rooms clean, making their own beds and making sure they open the window in the day to let it air. Vacuuming, Dusting, loading the Dishwasher/hand washing after meals, Mopping, cleaning the Bathroom, Making a packed lunch for school, all of these things I’d expect a 10 year old to be able to do. I don’t mean doing them all daily, that would be modern day slavery and child labour, but having them do a couple of these tasks every day is one of the only ways that they will learn about good housekeeping. Also, they may be our kids, but they’re not lords and ladies of the Manor, and we aren’t their servants.
We shouldn’t be slaves to our youngsters, we should be teaching and training them to pull their own weight. You can’t do everything, not even Wonder Woman could hold a full time job working 9 -6, run a house with 2 kids, cook dinner, clean up, help with homework, deal with the daily traumas of school life AND organize the kids social calendar.
Once they get to a certain age, they should be helping out around the house, even if it’s only cooking dinner a few times a week, making their own lunchboxes every night, keeping their rooms tidy and cleaning up the kitchen, small tasks that don’t take long, but make life so much easier when you’re juggling a life, work, kids and bills.