Prepare your peewee for life outside the nest with basic skills that’ll serve them well the livelong day!


It’s never easy to admit that your young ‘un is growing up. Remove your “but he’s just a little baby” mummy outlook and you’ll realise that every day, junior is growing just a little bit taller, speaks a lot more confidently and is much smarter.

Sure, as parents, we love our offspring unconditionally, but some go overboard when they overparent and coddle junior. Giving your child a sheltered life may make you feel better, but you’re simply leaving them completely ill-equipped to face the real world.

It’s up to us as parents to pass on basic life skills our children will need to become successful adults. Skills such as preparing a simple meal, doing laundry or the ability to make conversation can go a long way in ensuring your little one grows up to lead an independent, happy and confident life.

We offer guidelines on life skills every child should acquire between the ages of 2 and 12. Since this is a guide, be mindful that every child is different, so let them go at their own pace.

Video: Paulyn Ng

AGES 2 to 3 Start at an early age ― your child is more capable than you think! At this point, your peewee should be able to carry out simple tasks like putting away his toys after playing with them and undressing himself. Dressing himself will take a little bit more time and practice.

AGES 4 to 5 Junior is old enough to remember important names and numbers, which will come in handy if he loses you in a crowded place. Get him to recite the info to you from time to time, so that he knows the correct details by heart. Water safety is also important at this point. If he’s not ready for swimming classes just yet, take him to the pool and beach regularly, so that he gets used to the water and doesn’t grow up fearing it.

AGES 6 to 7 With primary school on the horizon, make sure your kewpie’s maths and simple money-managing skills are down pat. Play money games such a Monopoly or have him set up a lemonade “stall”. Take turns to be the shop owner and customer, so junior learns how to give money and receive change correctly. This might also be a good time to get a pet, so your little one learns how to take care of someone besides himself. Great first pets include fishes and a hamster, as they are both easy to take care of and don’t require too much time or money.

AGES 8 to 9 By now, your kiddo should be writing his own thank you notes for birthday and Christmas presents. It will not only improve his spelling and sentence construction, but he’ll also realise a heartfelt note is more meaningful than a message via WhatsApp or instant messenger. Junior is also ready to prep simple meals like a peanut butter and jam sandwich. Time to rejoice because this will finally will free up some of your time, especially if he can also do it for his younger siblings!

AGES 10 to 12 Now at the cusp of adolescence, it’s more important than ever for your young adult to learn how to speak up for himself. This is a priceless lifelong skill that’ll boost your child’s confidence. Help him by giving him various scenarios he might find himself in and give him tips on how to speak politely, yet assertively to others, so that people will take him seriously and not brush off his feelings. Besides being more handy around the house, junior should also, by this age, be able to take public transportation independently. Show him the route from school to home and vice versa, but do have that talk about stranger danger before you let him make the commute on his own.

Main photo: iStock

Elsewhere on…

6 ways to praise without spoiling your tot

How to help your left-handed child

5 ways to help your kid beat depression