From the moment they’re born, children are like sponges, soaking up knowledge in every waking moment. You’ll be with them from the moment they first draw breath, encouraging and supporting them every step of the way. To help you make the most of this privileged position, here are five skills you can teach your sons and daughters, each of which will make a fundamental difference to their lives:

Money management
In these debt-ridden times, helping your children to look after their finances is vital.
 A good place to start is with their pocket money. “Encourage your kids to save 25% of their pocket money. They will develop the savings habit early on and will be delighted to see their money earning interest,” says financial expert Adrian Kidd. “Teach them to ask themselves whether they really need that new toy or game. If you help your kids differentiate between what they want and what they need, you’ll take the pressure off them to buy things they can’t afford when they’re older.”

Cooking
Teach them the basics from an early age and they’ll grow up cooking for themselves – and you, if you’re lucky!

  • Ask them to weigh and measure ingredients for you and teach them to chop soft fruits like bananas and avocados with a blunt knife.
  • Teach them the difference between foods that are undercooked, burnt and ready to eat.
  • Show them how to season food, mix a vinaigrette and make gravy.
  •  Teach them to smell, taste and test as they go along.
  • Make pizzas with them by buying ready-made bases and experimenting with toppings.

IT Skills
Although it won’t take long for them to become more techno-savvy than you are, these days it’s a good idea to get your kids started early. Try the following:

  • Help them handle a mouse by teaching them what it’s for and how to use it, sitting with them as they learn.
  • Put a coloured sticker on the left button to differentiate it from the right.
  • If kids are learning to spell, let them practise with a word-processing program.
  • Turn off the monitor and get them to spell 
their name. This is a great way to practise 
touch-typing.
  • Teach them how to troubleshoot. Show 
them how to shut down and restart, and teach them shortcuts like Ctrl+Alt+Del.

Conflict Management
Disagreements and arguments are part of life. The best way for your kids to learn how to manage them is through your example. “Kids watch what their parents do,” says counsellor Suzie Hayman. “If you shout and scream, that’s what they’ll do too. You need to be able to talk, negotiate, listen and explain yourself – with other adults and your children. Then they’ll learn to manage conflict the same way.”

Hygiene
This may seem trivial, but teaching kids to stay clean and smell good will have a huge impact on their friendships, education, career and romantic prospects in later life – as well as avoiding infection when they’re young. Start by making bath time a fun, integral part of family life by singing songs and playing with bath toys. Allow your 
kids to play outside, but explain why you need to clean soiled bodies and clothes afterwards. Encourage them to maintain their own hygiene and let them help with the laundry and housework. When they’re older, let them choose their own deodorants, shampoo and shower gel – this will encourage regular bathing.

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