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4 Lifelong Skills for Your Child’s Success

Here are four lifelong skills that will definitely help to mold your maturing child’s success.

By
Cheryl Butler,
Episode #497
image of kids reading books

My fourth child recently headed back to college for his senior year. It blows my mind that another kid of mine will graduate college this spring. In my experience, kids' college years seem to fly by the quickest. That could be because most kids, like mine, live away from home for their college experience, so you don’t have the same day-to-day interaction with them.

As we packed my son up for his trek back to campus, we talked about the exciting year ahead. For his final year, he and several of his friends will live off campus. Thankfully I’ve been down this road before, so I wasn’t quite as anxiety-ridden as I’ve been for my kids who've gone before him.

My son and I began reminiscing. We talked about all the silly antics he got up to with his four brothers and three sisters, like when he taught our puppy to do flips on the trampoline, or when he brushed our guinea pig’s teeth. We talked about his favorite Christmas gifts, like the 3D virtual goggles and a Build-A-Bear lion named Carlton. But my favorite and most unexpected part of our conversation was when he talked about the skills he had learned that truly fostered both his independence and the success he was having while away at college.

Be still my mother’s beating heart—he was admitting that how he was raised was having a positive impact on his life. Champagne for all!

In honor of all the young men and women heading back to college this fall, as well as those who are embarking on some type of career path after graduating high school, here are four lifelong skills that will definitely help to mold your maturing child’s success.

4 Important Skills to Instill in Your Child

  1. Become a Lifelong Reader
  2. Goal Setting
  3. Develop Strong People Skills
  4. Cultivate Self-Care

Here are each in more detail.

1. Become a Lifelong Reader

As an avid reader, I can’t imagine my life not being surrounded by books. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I just head to the library or my favorite bookstore, and I can change my mood instantly.

Because of my love of reading, I just assumed my eight kids would follow suit, but that wasn't always the case. My kids who had learning challenges also struggled with reading, and one of my sons would’ve preferred cleaning our bathrooms every day if it meant he didn’t have to pick up a book.

Though we had to work harder at encouraging and helping to support our three weaker readers, once they finally began reading on a regular basis it opened many new doors for them that otherwise would’ve remained closed.

There are hundreds of reasons that reading is such a vital, lifelong skill. At the top of the list is simply how enjoyable a good read is. We can temporarily escape from the stressors of our daily lives when we dive into an interesting book. I’ve always referred to my quiet time with a favorite book as a mini-vacation from life. The best part is I don’t need to pack, book a flight, or update my passport—and other than the cost of the book, it’s absolutely free! I always have a book in my car, my tote bag, or sitting someplace like the kitchen island.

My kids have grown up watching me read nearly every day, which has definitely made a positive impression on them.

In addition to the simple pleasures a book affords, reading is also one of the best tools to expand your knowledge. There are books and articles available in print and online covering thousands of topics. At the same time, reading increases your vocabulary, and it helps to motivate you because you can read all about other successful people who rely on books to grow and learn. The reading habits of hugely successful people like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey proves how books can act as gateaways to learning and knowledge. 

2. Goal Setting

One of my favorite ways to stay on task is to create lists. I’ve been a list maker ever since I was a little girl. Not only do I find that writing things down is a great way to stay organized, it’s also a wonderful collection of all your accomplishments. I keep my lists in notebooks and journals and group the items by categories like house chores, meal preparation, and groceries. (I even have one for each of my eight kids!) I love the satisfaction of crossing off a completed item, and sometimes I look back through previous lists to see how long it took me to get things done.

Lists make me feel like I’m in better control of my life, so when I learned about goal setting years ago, I jumped on board and have never looked back.

Goal setting is a powerful tool to keep us on the road to success because if we write our desires and aspirations down on paper or keep a digital copy on our computer we take responsibility for trying to achieve them rather than just daydream about them.

For instance, each year when school begins my kids write down their goals for that academic year. It might be trying to improve on a subject they’ve struggled with or finding a way to pay for private ski lessons when the money isn’t in the family budget. These goal lists are individually tailored to each child according to their interests and ambitions.

Having a clear horizon makes it easier to take steps towards it. In other words, goals trigger behavior, and this is exactly why I’m such a firm believer in practicing this skill. Just as important as writing down the goal is listing ideas and actions on how to make them happen, including timeframes to bring them to fruition. Goals are a work in progress, but they can also create a sense of purpose and direction to our lives. They help keep us motivated and ward off procrastination.

For more information on successful goal setting see 5 Principles for Setting Good Goals by my colleague Stever Robbins, better known as the Get-It-Done Guy.

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