I am sure you’ve never been out in public with young children and been embarrassed by their behavior. Never, not you. Not your kids. But just…
Summer is here! And the reoccurring question has been, “What are you going to do this Summer?!” Maybe you plan to frequent the beach, relax at the pool, or take kids to various Summer camps.
I hope to engage in all of the above! But I also hope to leave Summer with my soul more holy, my house more in order, and my children better trained.
The latter is the topic at hand.
All year long, we are (or should be) training our kids to obey and make good choices. In many ways, Summer is just more of the same. However, Summer brings different pockets of time that could allow us to train our kids in areas we usually don’t get to during the hustle and bustle of the school year. More specifically. I’m thinking of those essential life skills we want our kids to learn by the time they leave our home. Though it might feel like we have plenty of time to teach them, the consensus is: “time goes by fast,” — and before you know it, the teaching opportunities will be gone!
So, are there any life skills that you could start working on now (being that there are more than enough to fill every Summer with!)?
We all have different areas we have focused on, and different areas we have neglected — but here are a few ideas that may get your wheels spinning.
This Summer, you could teach your kids to:
# 1 Develop spiritual disciplines
Even if our kids aren’t yet Christians, they can still benefit from developing a habit of Bible reading and prayer. Pick a time each day to have your child sit down and read an age-appropriate Bible. Find a time to encourage them to daily talk to God (even if it starts with just 10 seconds!). If nothing else, our children will learn that talking to God and reading the Bible should be a daily priority.
My newest routine (with my reading-aged girls) is to have them spend about 10 minutes in the Bible and a couple minutes in prayer (on their own) first thing in the morning; and if we can’t get to it in the morning, I’ll have them do it before they play. What an important life skill even us adults struggle with — spending time alone with God before we get too busy doing whatever else we want to do!
I hope, at a minimum, my girls go into adulthood knowing it is entirely doable to give daily time to spiritual disciplines. But I also hope it’s a habit they form and never forsake.
#2 Be a good host
Sometimes having people in our homes takes enough effort to consume us, therefore purposing to teach our kids how to host guests is put on the back burner. But maybe this Summer you could role play and teach your children how to greet guests, serve guests, and kindly converse with guests (you be the guests, let them be the host!).
When it comes to an evening of hosting, start small (meaning give them little jobs), and work your way up to having hospitable, servant-hearted children, who are a delight to those who enter your home.
#3 Sit still
Every child will face times when they need to sit still — sometimes beyond their natural threshold. If we train them to endure sitting still better and longer, not only will they be more successful in those crucial “sit still” moments, but they’ll learn the life skill of self-control.
I have recently begun this training in my home. I simply started with 30 seconds where everyone is sitting up, facing forward, staying still, and staying quiet. I’ve increased the time by 30 seconds each day. How many minutes we will end up with, I have no idea! But I’m hopeful that their self-control muscles are already getting stronger!
#4 Act like proper “ladies and gentlemen”
Is there anything your daughter does that is not “lady-like”? Or is there anything your son does that is ungentlemanly (believe it or not, that is a word)? Now is a great time to talk to them about it. Give them an opportunity to practice the right behaviors. Make it fun, keep it simple, and encourage their progress.
In case you are at a loss for how this applies, consider whether your child eats with appropriate manners, or whether he eats like an animal! Think about whether your daughter knows how to sit “lady-like” when she’s all dressed up. Would your son think to carry a heavy object for the ladies in his life? Let’s raise up some selfless, kind, and thoughtful boys and girls who could appropriately be called “ladies and gentlemen.”
#5 Show genuine gratitude
We’ve taught our kids to say thank you, but is it time for them to step up their gratitude? When they leave their Sunday School class can they say thank you to the teacher without prompting? Does your child look the person in the eye when saying “thanks.”? When your child gets a gift, have they learned how to show more thoughtful appreciation beyond a token “thank you.” Role-playing may help, as well as reminders beforehand. Give them the tools and practice they need to display sincere gratitude.
#6 Interact selflessly
We all know people who have a hard time conversing. Some are too busy talking about themselves, and others are too shy to engage. Little by little, teach your children how to engage with others. Teach them how to ask questions in a conversation (not just respond to questions). And teach them how to listen to people’s responses.
Along the same lines, we should teach our children to pay attention to the needs of others. They should know the phrase “How can I help?” or “Do you need any help?” This selfless way of interacting with people doesn’t come natural — but what a life-skill worth learning!
…And Many More…
Of course, there are many more skills we could teach our kids…a love of reading, an enjoyment of cooking and cleaning, a good work ethic, babysitting, meal planning, budgeting, being resourceful…and a thousand others. But I had to just pick a few (most are ones I’m currently focusing on). But whether you pick one of these or not, I hope you are encouraged to make some life-skills-progress with your kids this Summer.
If now’s not a good time, when is?