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NEWSLETTER

5 skills teens need in life—and how to encourage them


All parents want their children to be successful in life — and by that, we mean not only having a good job and earning a good living but also being happy. And all parents wonder how they will accomplish this.
 
According to Harvard's Center on the Developing Child, it's less about academics and extracurricular activities and more about developing a basic set of abilities that enables people to overcome life's inevitable obstacles. All of these abilities fall under the category of executive function skills, which we utilize to regulate our behaviour. The majority of successful and happy people possess good executive function abilities.
 
 
 
 

What are the five most critical core skills?

 
ability to create and carry out concrete goals and plans.
 
Concentration is the capacity to concentrate on what is critical at any particular time.
 
Self-control entails exerting control over our responses to not only our emotions but also stressful situations.
 
Not only do we observe the people and things around us, but we also understand our place in them.
Flexibility is defined as the capacity to adjust to changing circumstances.
 
While these are abilities that children (and adults) can and do acquire throughout their lives, two critical stages are early childhood (ages 3 to 5) and adolescence/early adulthood (ages 13 to 26). During these windows of opportunity, children can benefit from learning and using these abilities. We'll discuss the second stage of adolescence in this post.
 
The most effective approach to acquiring any ability is to practice it. Here are some ideas for parents who aren't sure how to help and when to step aside.


Planning

 
When children are small, parents and caregivers naturally make plans for them. However, as children mature into adolescents, they must learn to do it on their own.
 
Take care not to micromanage your teen's life. Rather than that, establish some ground rules – simple ones like homework must be completed, kids require seven to eight hours of sleep per night, and regular exercise is critical. You may have additional ground rules, such as the requirement to attend family dinners or religious ceremonies. Then delegate the task to your teen. Intervene only if it is evident that ground rules are being persistently broken.
 
When teenagers have long-term projects, such as research or college applications, sit down with them and discuss how they intend to complete them. Allow them to generate ideas before you do!
 
Engage your teenagers in the planning of family activities and trips, as well as home renovations and other initiatives. Allow them to make some decisions (even if you may not always agree with them).
 

Awareness

 
Teenagers can be extremely self-aware, but primarily of their own world. Assist them in developing the ability to see beyond it.
 
Discuss current events and news articles. Discuss how things influence people and how different people may perceive them differently.
 
Take your teen on adventures—even a simple walk in the woods or a visit to a nearby town can provide them with the opportunity to look around and notice things they might otherwise overlook.
As a family, participate in community service events; demonstrate to them how they can make a difference.
 
Establish family rituals for checking in, such as over dinner. Allow everyone to share their day.
 
 
 
 

Concentration

 
The surge in device use has resulted in many attention issues for people of all ages. Screens provide quick pleasure, making it difficult to put them down and focus on less stimulating things—thus now, more than ever, it's critical to
 
Discuss how social media and the Internet can obstruct daily life (and homework) and work with them to develop solutions for dealing with the distraction.
 
Enjoy meals and family time without the use of a screen.
 
Encourage non-screen activities such as cooking, baking, constructing, sewing, crocheting, sketching, painting, and gardening.
 

Self-control

 
This is one of those instances where being aware of your own reactions to situations is critical. How do you respond to outbursts of rage and frustration? Is road rage a source of contention for you? Bear in mind that our children are always more concerned with what we do than with what we say. To assist your teen in developing self-control, you can discuss
 
feelings and ways of coping with strong emotions—such as taking a deep breath, removing yourself from the situation, or screaming into a pillow.
 
After everyone has cooled down, have a debriefing. What may have been different if your teen had acted differently? What might they do differently next time?
 
Discuss how their behaviour impacts others and why it is critical to be conscious of this (a practice that also teaches awareness).
 

Flexibility

 
Life always throws curve balls at teens, and they must be prepared to adjust.
 
Avoid being overly strict with your teen's schedule. Assist them in prioritizing and determining which tasks can be overlooked or postponed when something happens, whether good or bad.
 
Encourage an element of spontaneity. This, too, is about developing a sense of priorities and avoiding being overly entrenched in them.
 
Serve as a role model. Be spontaneous in your own way– and avoid becoming enraged if plans change. Make new arrangements.
 
When you allow your teen to attempt anything, there is a reasonable risk that they may fail. Resist the impulse to go in immediately. While it is critical to have your child's back (both now and throughout their lives), kids sometimes need to fail in order to learn. Allow them to work things out on their own before you give assistance. They might as well surprise you.
 
 
 
 

How to hELP CHILDREN COPE WITH STRONG EMOTIONS

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