Developing life skills in your 6th grader may feel like an uphill battle. The middle school years can be hugely challenging for students and parents alike. The perfect storm of hormones, academic pressure, and excessive peer-drama can lead to your child resembling a raging pre-teen monster from time to time. And getting that monster to do their own laundry? That might feel insurmountable! But these are actually the ideal years to start developing great habits and life skills in your middle schooler–skills that will serve them well in the (perhaps tumultuous) years to come! Start here:
Developing life skills: good hygiene
There is no better time to start great hygiene habits than the pre-teen years! Try to get ahead of the curve, rather than having to have an intervention with a smelly 12-year-old boy. Encourage regular bathing, start purchasing deodorant, and help your child master great oral hygiene habits. A great motivator is to allow your child to pick out their own products, such as shampoo, body wash, and deodorant. With some children, this is effortless. With others, it can be like pulling teeth. The earlier you get started on these skills, the better!
Developing life skills: cooking
A 6th grader is more than capable of planning and preparing meals for themselves and even the whole family. Take them shopping and help them learn to pick out groceries and meal-plan. Teach them basic recipes and how to follow a recipe on their own. Once they feel for confident around the kitchen, set them free! Perhaps even make them in charge of planning and preparing dinner once a week. Being competent in the kitchen and able to prepare healthy, nourishing meals is a critical life skill that will never return void.
Developing life skills: laundry
Every middle schooler should know how to do their own laundry properly from start to finish. Teach them about following care instructions, sorting by color, and how to choose the right cycles on both the washer and drier. Feeling really bold? Go ahead and make their laundry their responsibility.
Developing life skills: setting online boundaries
Perhaps the most important life skill your middle schooler can learn is how to have healthy boundaries on the internet. A 6th grader does not need a smartphone, a facebook page, or an instagram/snapchat/whatever-new-thing-is-now account. But interacting with technology is an essential part of modern life, and they need to know how to navigate that. Help them to understand that the internet is forever, and that absolutely anything they post online can be saved, screenshotted, and/or looked up even years down the road. Teach them that they should never comment, message, or text words that they wouldn’t say to a person face-to-face. Make this on ongoing conversation, and keep careful tabs on your pre-teen’s technology use.
What essential life skills are you working on with your middle schooler?