As children grow older, what they learn at home and school molds them into the kind of person they will be. Though important, English, math and history can’t be the only subjects taught in school. Besides common class courses, children need lessons in building character and preparing for their future in the real world.
Communication is Key
Communication isn’t one sided. Effective communication requires that the person talking is not only aware of what he or she is saying but also how the other person is responding. Sometimes that means using different words or body movements to communicate without being misunderstood.
Relationships Require Work
Life is all about relationships — with family, co-workers, friends, neighbors and the people you pass on the street. Learning to empathize with, forgive, communicate, work with and trust these people is a vital requirement in life. Fairy tales teach that love is a feeling; children need to be taught that love is an action. Like all the best things in life, love, happiness and fulfillment require work and though accompanied with feelings, these words are actually verbs.
How to Manage Money
From a young age, children should be taught the value of money, including saving versus spending. Instead of learning to purchase based on impulse, children should learn how to set goals, budget and save for the future. Many Americans treat debt like it is a way of life; children should be taught otherwise to avoid mismanagement of money in the future.
Skills and Character Traits are Developed Not Inherit
Children’s effort is just as important as the outcome of that effort. Besides math and history, these life skills — and their importance — need to be taught in the classroom. Through a leadership program for kids, the Ed Young Fellowship church focuses on teaching confidence, creativity, discipline, forgiveness, friendship, generosity, gratitude, honesty and other traits that will help kids become better people and eventually leaders. While Pastor Young stresses the importance of parenting in his book “The 10 Commandments of Parenting,” teaching children should be a combined home, school and community effort.
How to Present Oneself
A basic skill, children should be taught how to market themselves. This includes learning how appearance, tone, body language and eye contact affects how other perceive you. Children shouldn’t be taught that one look or personality is best, but they should know crossed arms communicate defensiveness and avoiding eye contact can signal deception or a lack of respect.
It’s OK to Not Be Liked
Some people go their whole lives molding themselves to be what others want them to be. Children develop insecurities when they aren’t included; teenagers make mistakes to impress; adults hide behind a wall in order to not be misunderstood. While civility is important, children need to be taught that it’s OK to not be liked by everyone. They need to understand that who they are isn’t defined by what others think of them, though it can play a large part in how they’re treated.
Attitude is Everything
Everyone will experience hard situations, encounter mean people and live through things they’d rather not. The difference between happy and sad people isn’t their situations, it’s their attitude. From a tender age, our minds are programmed on how to see the world. If children are taught to control their attitude, they won’t go through life depressed, frustrated or unfulfilled when they can’t control their situation. Attitude leads to self discipline, garners self respect and fuels motivation.
Guest Author Susan Moore is a teacher and freelance writer who lives in California.