5 Things to do with your kids so that they get a headstart on life

We all want successful kids. More importantly, we all want happy kids. For some of us, those two mean the same thing. There are ways and ways you can do things to ensure your kid is one or the other, or both. But you can never actually be sure. There is the little thing called nature: she will be what she will be, irrespective of what you do. But there is also the not so-small-thing called nurture. There’s no way you should discount that.

After raising fairly bright and happy kids as a single mum for the past eight years, I’ve gathered some experience and a little knowledge (from my reading) as to what works in order to develop kids into their highest potential. I’ve broken them down into habits essentially. It takes a while to put them into practice but once you’ve got the drill down pat, you’ll see a change in them.

  1. Chores, chores, chores: I cannot tell you the importance of this. If your kid can play with a smartphone, then he certainly can manage to lay tablemats, set the table and clean it up after dinner. And don’t just sit there looking into your phone; engage in heating up dinner, chopping a salad, some chore that only you do so that they have a model to look  up to. Picking up after themselves, and contributing to the house lays foundation for an adult who understands the importance of a routine, tidiness and teamwork.   

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2.Read together: Reading stories aloud to a young child is great. But if you have a child that is old enough to read, get them an educational book. It could be anything: the Egyptian civilisation, knights and wars, strange habits of jellyfish, different whales and their cries. Anything. Stay with them while they read and if that is not possible, make sure they know you are available for any questions they might have. This fosters a desire for knowledge and for asking questions if they don’t know.

3.Money: It’s never too early to start them on understanding money. As a kid, I was never allowed to ask the price of something. We were scolded if we did and asked to mind our own business. My instinctive reaction even today is to tell them the same thing. But two years ago I opted for the Spend, Save, Give jars. The money they get for birthdays, or special occasions or holidays all go into one of the three jars; every year, the Give jar goes towards a donation and we track what happens to that donation. It’s a great way to teach a) saving, b) moderation and c) patience.

4.Social skills: Say thank you, please. Make eye contact. Teach your kids to address the person they are talking to either by name or the preferred way of addressing. I don’t let the kids get away with a, “Yeah,” or a “Hi”. It’s always, “Yes, Aunty,” or “Hello, Ankit.” Calling someone by their name or position forces your child to look at their face. Looking at someone’s face gives your child confidence. Write thank you letters if someone sends a present from out of town. Or send them a voice note on whatsapp. Or a picture if your kid can’t write yet. Unfailingly. This teaches politeness and that you shouldn’t take good people for granted. Model this behavior yourself and let your kids see you do these things.

5.Show them work ethic: By doing whatever you do with utmost integrity and commitment, you’re showing your child how it should be done. Working mothers, especially, have a huge influence on young children, particularly doctors. Taking your work seriously shows them why work is as important as the other fun things that you do. Take them to work one day, encourage them to approach their homework or chores the way you approach your work. It sets the tone for life.

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