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blog 5 Life Skills Tweens Should Learn

So, it’s officially summer time.  While many mamas are finally taking a sigh of relief, for those of us who have tween children (i.e. boys and girls between the ages of 10-14) the works is just beginning.  (At least for me it has.)  This week my son are starting what I am calling his ‘Life Skills Summer Learning’ program.  For all of us mamas with boys whose feet are bigger than their brains or girls whose bra-size is ballooning but their common sense just hasn’t caught up yet, this is for us.  Summer vacation is a great chunk of time to help your older kiddos begin making the transition from big boy to teen.  So here are a few things my tween and I will be learning over this summer.

Financial Responsibility

From sitting down with you while you are completing the budget to learning how to write a check, this is the prime to help middle-schoolers learn what the world of money is all about.  Most times kids see you pull out your debit card and pay for things and they don’t even realize that card is associated with a bank account and employment.  Let your kid see your bank statement.  Walk them to the mailbox with you when you send out your mortgage payment and then show them the statement when the money is debited.  Also, share your work time sheets with them and make sure they know how to fill one out.  Soon your son or daughter will be asking for money to catch a movie or go to the mall.  Make sure he or she understands that the money they see as disposable was paid for with sweat.

Grocery Shopping

Unfortunately, some of us mamas do not live in a neighborhood with corner stores.  If your one of them, your kids are missing out on what used to be a neighborhood staple: kids going to the store for their moms.  By the time I was 13 I was accustomed to going to the corner store for my mom.  You know the routine.  She gives you a list and you better come back with that change.  Well, my boy will be getting that experience over the summer.  But, we are making a slight upgrade.  My dad and step-mom are up just about every Saturday or Sunday by 7 a.m. and they get to the store (on the bus) and do their grocery shopping.  That’s admirable and I need my son to learn that.  So, with list and cash in hand we will be doing our weekly grocery shopping.  He will learn how to go in a store and get what’s on the list (and only what’s on the list), collect the correct amount of change and make it back home in one piece with groceries in hand.  This will teach him how to follow directions as well as further his sense of financial responsibility.  They will be moms and dads one day, we need to prepare them for inevitable grocery shopping now.

Catching the Bus

I know some moms might not think your kid is ready for this but trust me they are.  I might be weary of a tween below the age of 11, but anytime after that is appropriate for cruising with good old PAT.   When I moved to New York City in 2008, I was surprised by inability to read maps compared to the stellar ability of even 8-year-old New Yorkers.  I mean despite living in one of the U.S.’s biggest cities with a seriously huge transit system a 12-year-old in New York can tell you just about everything you need to know about their MTA.  I need my son to know his way around his city like that.  Not only will this make them comfortable in the city they live in, it will give you piece of mind about their ability to safely get back and forth.  It also teaches them self-awareness when they are out in public.

Daily Exercise

Most money magazines will tell you that the average successful person has a habit of exercising every morning by 6 a.m.  Well, if you want your tween to get through middle school and high school unscathed, this is a good habit they need to pick up on.  Not only does exercise promote good health, but this funny little thing happens when your heartbeat begins to race and its called silence.  When I’m on my morning walk it is then that I have the most time to contemplate the day before, think about the day’s schedule and also self-evaluate.  Your tween needs that time now more than ever.  Getting them into the routine of daily silenced physical activity gives them time to think about their actions and gives a huge boost to their confidence.  Ever since my son started going to the gym with his dad he feels self-assured and sees the results of hard work.

Bring a Project to Fruition

Psalm 128:2 says:

You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
    How joyful and prosperous you will be!

This is a lesson best learned in youth than in adulthood.  The average person does not possess the feeling of worthiness, gumption, or work-ethic to build their own business.  Most parents also buy their children gifts that are already put together rather than toys they have to work on to enjoy.  This a great time to get your kids out of that habit.  Let them come up with their own project that they must bring to fruition with their own hands by the end of the summer.  They can create their own garden, build something or set a goal to save $75 by the end of the summer.  They just need to understand the importance of building or creating something based on their own sweat and merits.

I know this sounds like a lot. So, if you can’t do all of it at once, just try doing one thing with your budding teen over the hot weather months.   Remember, he or she is more than capable of reaching any goal you are confident enough to set for them.


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