Life Skills

Life Skills Every Child Needs to Learn

Important Life Skills Kids Need to Learn | www.TheHeavyPurse.comAs I have shared with you before, motherhood wasn’t initially on my radar for many, many years. When Chris and I got married, we were both very focused on building our careers and exploring the world together. We both watched, with genuine delight, as siblings and friends became Moms and Dads and loved spoiling our nieces and nephews, but we still weren’t ready to become parents ourselves. After 13 years of marriage, I gave birth to our first child, Lauren, and both Chris and I fell deeply in love with her the moment we saw her. Two years later, we did it all over again with her little sister, Taylor. I am so grateful that Chris and I had the opportunity to became parents, and I am also so glad we waited until we were ready.

When you become parents, your life changes. Everyone tells you this, of course, but you don’t fully embrace how true it is until you experience it yourself. With sudden clarity, you realize this awesome responsibility you have for your child. They are dependent on you, and not just for food and shelter, but also to teach them how to be good stewards of the world. To instill in them the life skills that will help them succeed. To always love and cherish, no matter what. This is something I think about quite a bit, especially as Lauren and Taylor will turn 12 and 10 before year-end. They are growing up and I can see glimmers of the young women inside of them.

3 Important Life Skills for Kids to Learn

There is a lot of emphasis on academics, which is understandable. We expect the girls to do their best in school too, but I also believe that academics are only part of the education children require. As I’ve told my girls since they were toddlers, it is important that they know four quarters equal a dollar and it is just as important they know how to use that dollar wisely. This is how life skills complement academics. Today, I’m going to focus on three life skills your children need to learn.

How To Communicate Effectively and Be Heard

If you’ve gone to the mall lately or anywhere tweens and teens hang out, you’ll likely note an interesting phenomena. While they still travel in packs, they aren’t laughing and talking to one another, but instead they are glued to their smartphones. While I enjoy Twitter and texting too, I also know how to communicate beyond 140 characters and emojis.

This is actually becoming a serious problem, and not being able to communicate effectively as adults will make it harder for them to work in teams, to advance to leadership roles and to maintain healthy relationships at work and at home. This is why it is important to me that Lauren and Taylor know how to articulate with actual words what they are thinking and feeling. To learn how to problem-solve, respectfully argue and persuade verbally. To learn how to use their words to express emotions, both good and bad and everything in between, versus acting out instead. And yes, I realize acting out is part of being a teenager. I also know that many teens misbehave or lash out because they don’t know how to express whatever emotion they are feeling in a non-destructive manner.

Never forget that kids mimic how they see others communicate. So if they see Mom and Dad only shout at one another, give each other the silent treatment or worse, than that is how they will choose to communicate as well.

How To Take Care of Their Bodies and Mind

I get up every morning, before the sun even rises, to squeeze in my daily workout, and I am very fussy about what food I put in my body. This is not me being “picky”, but I know what my body needs to work at peak condition. My life is very busy, and I depend on my body and mind to function at a high level to help me power through the day. When I skip a workout or eat something I shouldn’t, I feel it.

It’s important that girls have basic skills around taking care of a home, such as knowing how to cook, do laundry, clean and so on, but I also want to make sure they know how to properly feed and care for their bodies and mind. We exercise; we eat healthy; we practice gratitude; we go to Church and we give back, and the girls know why we do all of those things. I want taking care of their bodies and minds to become an ingrained habit, but also a habit with purpose. Otherwise, it can be easy to let these habits slide, if you don’t understand why they matter so much.

How To Protect Themselves

It is an unfortunate reality, but we live in a world where not everyone is kind and good. Some people want to hurt you; sometimes you might even love that person. We, as parents, spend a lot of time teaching our kids right from wrong, not to touch a hot stove and to look both ways before crossing the street, which are all important lessons, but we sometimes overlook teaching them to protect themselves or to recognize signs of danger.

As much as I possibly can, I try to make sure the girls stay in safe environments with trusted adults. I also know that it is impossible to guarantee their safety 100% of the time. It’s why we talk to the girls about the realities of someone hurting them in an age-appropriate way. To understand that while we respect our elders, that they, in turn, should also respect us and never do anything that makes us feel uncomfortable or hurts us. To know that loving someone does not make it okay for them to hit or hurt you. We teach the girls to value their self-worth and to expect others to do the same. And most importantly, to know that we are here for them, always.

Examining Money Life Skills Next Monday

Many of my long-time readers probably recognize that these life skills are also important values in the Ryan home. Everything connects from values to life skills to goals to finally creating the life you want for yourself. This is obviously just a small sampling of the many life skills that we want to instill in our girls, but represent some of the key ones. Next Monday, I’ll go deeper on the money life skills that I am instilling in the girls.

What life skills are your instilling in your children?


October 12, 2015  •  21 Comments  •  Life Skills

Leave a Comment


  1. Monday, October 12th, 2015
    These are all awesome skills to focus on Shannon, I could not agree more. I love that you pointed out #1! Nicole and I are really working to focus on that as well with our kiddos. Being writers, not to mention parents :) , we want them to have the ability to articulate not only what they feel but what they believe with words - both written and verbally. Like you pointed out, some of the challenge is them getting older, though that ability to communicate is so vital in a number of facets.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 15th, 2015
      Thanks, John! It is so important kids learn to communicate, both verbally and written. Most assume its a given kids would learn this skills but the reality is that more and more kids are struggling with this.
  2. Monday, October 12th, 2015
    I would add how to make your own decisions (which will come from a strong sense of respect for herself and confidence). I've heard you talk about doing this with your girls on podcast interviews, and I just couldn't agree more with how valuable it is.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 15th, 2015
      Absolutely, Natalie. Teaching Lauren and Taylor to make good decisions and think for themselves is something we definitely encourage the girls to do and help them do so as well.
  3. Monday, October 12th, 2015
    These are all things that we want to make sure our kids know too. We are already working on teaching them as much as they can learn at their age and we have started to see some things payoff as they've gotten older. They are getting to such a fun age!
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 15th, 2015
      Your twins are definitely at a fun age - to be fair - at their age, everything about them is fun! It is so encouraging when you see your efforts pay off and kids absorb so much more than we often give them credit for.
  4. Monday, October 12th, 2015
    That first point you made reminded me of that viral video that was going around last week which showed young women in a group and individually they were all on their phones texting and taking selfies and not paying attention to each other or the game. The announcers were laughing about it. But sadly, that is the reality we live in, and even my friends MY age do it too. So I do think there is a leading by example component in just about everything parents do.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 15th, 2015
      I certainly admit that I love having my smartphone, but it does make me sad when I see groups of people together and everyone is glued to their phone. And yes, parents definitely have to demonstrate these life skills, which does include turning off their phone and engaging with their family and friends.
  5. Monday, October 12th, 2015
    These are definitely skills that every child needs to learn. It's crazy to me when I see little kids with their faces glued to Ipads and not playing or anything.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 15th, 2015
      Me too, Mackenzie. I don't mind if they spend some time on their gadgets but I don't want them on their 24/7 and encouraging play and creativity is so important in kids too.
  6. Monday, October 12th, 2015
    These are definitely three life skills I will want to teach my children at a young age. I think parents can make or break a kid when it comes to being confident about speaking and being heard. It's too easy for kids to not develop that confidence, and it can really impact their life.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 15th, 2015
      I agree, DC. Parents hold so much power over their kids and helping them learn how to communicate effectively and be heard is a critical skill. Too many kids don't have that confidence or ability, which makes it tougher for them and some resort to destructive means to be heard too.
  7. Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
    We also waited for a decade until we became parents. I do think it worked well in our case as well :)

    We try to teach our daughter to ALWAYS communicate with us (whatever happens to her, we have to know), to eat healthy food (works OK so far, she's already got some healthy habits), be kind, but also know when to take a stand. We are not teaching her to be aggressive (I see many parents who are themselves being aggressive towards or in front of their kids), but she shouldn't let anyone mistreat her.

    As money goes, we'd love her to learn how to best manage her money and avoid some of our mistakes.

    If all goes well, she shouldn't have to worry about mortgage or paying for a college, but still, she needs to be responsible.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 15th, 2015
      We tell the girls that they can always come to us and encourage them to share with us everything too, without fear or judgement. Great point about parents teaching kids to act aggressive, whether intentional or not. I've seen that too and being assertive and knowing how to communicate is not the same thing as being aggressive or a bully and some people confuse the two.
  8. Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
    I would like to think my kids are learning these skills naturally. Both of them have really good critical thinking skills! They are smart cookies =)
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 15th, 2015
      If they take after their Mama, they are definitely smart cookies! :)
  9. Wednesday, October 14th, 2015
    LOVE this, Shannon! The communication thing is a big concern in my eyes. I see as you do everyone ignoring each other and being glued to their phones, and I wonder what types of relationships these kids have with real people in real life. Also loving what you said about protecting themselves. We don't do much in the way of non-necessity spending these days, but we do have the kids enrolled in Krav Maga classes, which teach them how to be aware of their surroundings, to have a plan in case trouble comes, and to know physical techniques that can get them out of danger. As I think about that, I suppose that would fall much more under the necessity guideline.
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 15th, 2015
      It really does affect their ability to connect with people in real life and I've seen kids struggle to use words to express themselves too. You've mentioned before that your kids take Krav Maga classes, which I think is a great idea, and it does seem to fall under more necessity when you think about what they are learning.
  10. Thursday, October 15th, 2015
    The three mentioned are good ones...there's almost an infinite number of lessons to teach children - a big one on my list is "Teach them how to treat others."
    • Shannon Ryan
      Thursday, October 15th, 2015
      There is honestly an infinite number of life skills and lessons to teach kids. And yes, knowing how to treat others is a HUGE one and another skill that means kids don't seem to have these days.
  11. Friday, October 16th, 2015
    i wish schools (high schools) would teach financial responsibility and how to do their own taxes.
  • Meet Shannon

    "As a Certified Financial Planner, it is my passion to help individuals and families build a healthy relationship with money. I look forward to helping you raise financially confident kids.” - Shannon Ryan