What Parents Need to Teach That Kids Aren’t Learning in School

This is an excellent list written for parents from Zen Habits.

I want to emphasize the anti-competition point. I have become much less competitive the past few years and I think I’m better because of it. I’ve wondered aloud whether you need a killer instinct in business. I do think you need some of that at an organization level, but on an individual level a mindset toward cooperation rather than competition can be surprisingly effective. Do you agree?

Below are my favorites:

  • Investing. What is investing and why is it necessary? How do you do it and what are different ways of doing it? How do you research an investment? How does it compound over time? This is a good conversation to have with your teen.
  • Frugality. This is something to teach them from an early age. How to shop around to get a good deal, to compare between products of different prices and quality, to make things last and not waste, to cook at home instead of eating out too much, to control impulse buying. When we go out and do a shopping spree, including before Christmas, we are teaching them just the opposite.
  • Reading. Sure, we’re taught to read. But schools most often make this boring. Show your child the wonderful imaginative worlds there are out there. And show them how to find out about stuff in the world through the Internet, and how to evaluate what they read for credibility, logic, factualness.
  • Positive thinking. While critical thinking is an important skill, it’s also important to have a positive outlook on life. Sure, things may be screwed up, but they can be changed for the better. Find solutions instead of complaints. And most of all, learn to believe in yourself, and to block out negative self-thinking.
  • Motivation. Learn that discipline isn’t the key to achieving a goal, but motivation. How to motivate yourself, different strategies, and how great it feels to achieve a goal. Start them with small, easily achievable goals, and let them develop this skill.
  • Anti-competition. As kids, we’re taught how to be competitive. In the adult world, that’s how we behave. And that results in back-stabbing, undercutting, feelings of resentment, and other life-affirming things like that. Instead, teach your child how there is room for many people to be successful, and how you’re more likely to be successful if you help others to be successful, and how they’ll help you in return. Learn that making friends and allies is better than making enemies, and how to do that. Learn cooperation and teamwork before competition.
  • Develop intimate relationships. The best way to teach this is to develop an intimate relationship with your child, and model it with your spouse or other significant other (within appropriateness). Teach them the skills for developing these types of relationships, talk about the importance of it, and how to get through the bumpy parts as well. There are bad times in every relationship, but with the right skills of communication, empathy and compromise, they can get through them.
  • Organization. How to keep paperwork organized, how to keep things in their place, to to keep a to-do list, how to set routines, how to focus on the important tasks.

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