It is amazing how quickly time goes by and before you know it, life after school is here for a child. What awaits them is a type of freedom that they’ve never experienced before. Their days of stability and structure provided by parents and teachers, along with daily reminders and guidance to make responsible, wise, and healthy decisions, are replaced with unstructured time and having to effectively manage responsibilities at college and/or at work.
When it comes to skills that are necessary for a child not only to survive, but to thrive as they become adults, academic skill is not the only factor involved. When no longer is anyone there monitoring their daily activities and watching over their shoulder, young adults will rely on life skills, many of which they haven’t been taught in school.
Below are what I feel are “THE CORE FOUR” necessary skills that young people need to become the 3s: smart, successful, and self-disciplined.
- Resiliency Skills – When a child goes out into the real world, they will encounter challenge, adversity, and experience life’s daily stresses. Although it’s important for a child to experience feelings of safety and competence, they must also know how to respond to the challenges of adolescence and becoming independent.
Learning how to cope with difficult situations can be challenging, but being a role model to demonstrate positive strategies when faced with rejection, hurt, or falling short of a goal can help guide a child toward increasing their self-confidence and ability to roll with the punches. For a child to develop intestinal fortitude, they must know that they are going to make mistakes and that the decisions they make in their life may not render the outcome they so desired. However, it’s their reaction to the outcome and the choices they make thereafter to bounce back that will further strengthen their confidence and ability to move forward toward achieving their goals.
- Goal Setting – One of the best things I ever did when I was in college was to write down my goals. The mere act of recording down goals on a piece of paper specifies a direction and recognizes an outcome. Helping a young person set and achieve goals is one of the most important skills in helping them succeed and excel.
A good goal should answer two questions:
- How much?
- By when?
Make goals quantifiable (how much) and specific as to when a young person is looking to achieve them (by when). This puts a level of focus and accountability onto the individual who is taking the necessary steps to accomplish them. Adolescents may have trouble with devising a plan of action on their own and staying consistent with the steps necessary to achieving their goals. Therefore, the help of a parent, teacher, coach, counselor, or someone who is not only willing to help them put together a plan, but also make them accountable is instrumental in getting a young person started toward identifying their own goals. Checking in with them and seeing if they satisfied objectives set along the way opens up opportunities to offer insight or advice as to anything that should be added or modified to the goal. In order to see progress made and continue to feel motivated, when or if the individual becomes frustrated or things remain stagnant or appear to regress, there should be an ultimate focus on the long-term goal.
- Time management – There are many possibilities for a young person to become distracted away from accomplishing their goals. Especially college students who have left home no longer have reminders to do their homework, have a curfew, or have home-cooked meals made for them. Teaching a young person how to make wise choices and manage their time amid all of the responsibilities of college life is necessary in order for them to succeed while attending college and throughout later in life. This requires a young person to understand the importance of self-discipline and that a healthy mind is fueled by a healthy body and that the choices they make in terms of what they eat, when they exercise, when they go to sleep, and when they do their homework and study all factor into their overall success.
- Problem-Solving Skills – Sometimes it may seem easier to come to the rescue of a child’s problems and show them the “right way” to do something. However, stepping in and solving a child’s problems for them sends a subtle message that they can’t solve a problem on their own, which in turn can diminish their self-confidence. Instead, allow children to express their opinions and ideas. Pose questions for them to answer and have them help you solve problems. This will send the message that their opinion is valued and that you have confidence in them and believe they are competent to solve the problem. This will ultimately translate into a child who feels important and empowered to succeed and overcome challenges throughout their life.
Douglas Haddad is an award-winning educator, author, and wellness expert dedicated to helping families thrive. His new book, The Ultimate Guide to Raising Teens and Tweens: Strategies for Unlocking Your Child’s Full Potential, was released in February 2017. For more information on Doug and a free chapter of the book, go to doughaddad.com .