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It may be every parent’s worst nightmare to one day realize that they have failed to teach their child the skills they need to survive alone in the world. Instead of letting this fear haunt you, be proactive. Help your child grow into a functional adult by teaching them responsibility, essential life skills, and humanity. This is by no means an extensive list, but it’s a start.

Maintaining A Sleep Routine

Many adults can’t say that they adhere to a strict bedtime, and whether they sleep for the recommended number of hours remains unsaid. However, sleep is vital for cognitive function and a positive attitude, so help your child early on by assisting them to establish a bedtime routine. Teach them to wind down before getting into bed, and to do things such as changing into their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and picking out a storybook. Make it a habit, and going to bed will feel more natural and less stressful for everyone.

Managing Money

Balancing a checkbook may not seem like the most relevant skill to have now that mobile banking has become a common practice, but teaching your child how to manage their money and set a budget will help prepare them for adulthood. Granting them an allowance and setting up a savings account for them can help them understand the importance of being frugal — and how tempting it is to splurge.

Cooking & Cooking Prep

While you may not be inclined to allow your toddler full access to the oven, teaching them the basics of cooking will help them as they grow older and become more independent. Encouraging them to help you in the kitchen with simple tasks like (carefully!) cutting vegetables, boiling water, or breading poultry can not provide them with the knowledge they can use later in life but will also give them confidence and allow them to feel mature and capable. Everyone needs a sous chef!

Doing Laundry

Instead of waiting for them to go to college to learn how a washing machine works, teach your child how to do their laundry. Having good hygiene extends beyond bathing, after all, and children should understand how to wash, fold, and organize clothes before they leave home. Doing their laundry will help your child earn a sense of personal responsibility, and having them assist you in different ways (from folding laundry to loading the machines) may make your chores more manageable!

Writing/Communication

Though applying for a job might be far off in the future for your child, fostering strong communication skills, both oral and written, is important. Communicating ideas clearly will prepare them for the classroom and the workplace, and it will help them develop strong relationships with others. Help them understand how to ask questions (and feel comfortable doing so if they are confused or unsure), use manners, and speak up for themselves.

Compassion, Tolerance, & Patience

Teaching a child to be compassionate, tolerant, and patient is easier said than done. Modeling these traits is the most efficient and effective way of facilitating them in your child. Express the importance of these ideals and be conscious of your own biases, too. Children often learn best by example.

By the time your child leaves the nest, you will have taught them countless lessons that will carry them far. Helping them learn early on that they are capable of caring for themselves and navigating the world on their own will teach them independence and responsibility — and it will show them how much you care.