My intention is for this to be part of a multi-series post about life skills that all kids should know in today’s world. We’ll start with toddlers – that’s what I have direct knowledge of, so that’s where we’ll begin. I’m not saying that I’m necessarily good at getting my son to follow my instructions, but then again, he hasn’t taken well to my inner drill sergeant mindset and expectations of him asking, “How high?” after I knife-hand him to “Jump!”
I’m not going to get into the bullshit about what your kid needs to know by what age; everyone learns at different speeds and on different levels whether you’re a kid or an adult. I’m just going to generalize and lump it into “toddler” life skills.
By teaching them these 8 “simple” tasks, it’s not only a good way for them to learn the task itself, it teaches them responsibility and independence. It’s also a good way to make your own life easier in the long run. Of course, there’s also the added benefit that it increases their self-confidence, which makes them happy. And we all know that when a toddler is happy, life is much easier…for everyone.
As a side note, we can also call this, “No, insert derogatory comment, that’s not how you do it!” lessons. Keep reading to see what I mean.
8 things every toddler should know to establish good habits (and not grow up an asshole):
1. How to clean up after themselves. Pretty broad, but you can get detailed with it:
- After eating, they should bring their plate/cup/utensil to the sink.
- If they spill their drink, they should wipe it up.
- After playtime is over, they should put their toys away.
(No, dumbass, just pushing your toys to the side of the carpet is not cleaning up!)
2. How to get dressed and undressed.
- All clothing and Pull Up diapers should be put on the correct way (yes, there’s difference between the front and back).
- This should include putting on slip-on shoes and boots. Velcro is a little harder, and let’s just forget about tying shoes for a bit.
- Dirty clothes should be put in the hamper/basket – See # 1.
- Additionally, Pull Ups should be taken off and immediately put in the trash, not kept in the middle of the floor.
(No, soup-sandwich, putting your shirt on your legs, and your underwear on your head is NOT getting dressed!)
3. How to feed themselves.
- They should drink from an open cup.
- They should use a fork and spoon.
- They shouldn’t put too much food in their mouth at once. My son and daughter have learned the hard way more than a couple times by coughing/puking the meal back up. Yeah, let me tell you how fun that is. Ughhh.
(No, moron, next time take smaller bites!)
4. How to brush their teeth by themselves.
- Unscrew the toothpaste cap, which will inevitably fall onto the floor (see #1).
- Put toothpaste onto toothbrush, which will end up being too much and a glob that goes everywhere (see #1).
- Brush the top, bottom and sides, which will end up with them just sucking or licking the toothpaste off of the brush.
(No, numb-nuts, you’re supposed to brush, not eat it!)
5. How and when to wash their hands properly.
- After sneezing into them (or better yet just teach them to sneeze into their elbow).
- After going to the potty.
- After playing outside.
- Before eating.
(No, ass-hat, you need to wash the soap off before leaving the bathroom!)
6. How to play nicely with others and share.
- The “take turns” method usually works for us when it comes to sharing toys.
- Sometimes, the barter/trade method works – if they want a toy from another kid, have them trade for another toy, this for that. I guess it’s more of a distraction technique, but it works.
(No, slick rick, just because you grabbed the toy from them doesn’t mean it’s your turn now!)
7. How to wipe their own nose.
- Eventually they can work up to blowing their own nose. Just make sure they use two hands to cover both nostrils with the tissue. Nothing like being right next to your kid as they blow their nose and getting a leg full of snot because they didn’t use both hands.
(No, sicko, it’s not okay that you got snot all over me from blowing your nose, I told you to use 2 hands!)
8. How to use good manners.
- Say please, thank you, sorry, you’re welcome, hello and goodbye, I love you, bless you (after sneezing), and excuse me (after burping or farting—yes, everyone farts. I’m a married man, I know for a fact that women fart).
(No, asshole, just because you said “excuse me” doesn’t make it okay to fart loudly at the dinner table!)
There’s a bunch of things that I’m intentionally leaving off this list, like how to make their own bed, how to put shoes neatly in the closet, or how to fold clothes and things of that sort. You can shoot for those things if you want – but personally, I’m picking my battles. This goes back to my blog post about Stress. See #13 – everything doesn’t always have to be perfect. You’re not going to be able to teach them all of these things at once, and I don’t feel like getting frustrated all the time when their shoes aren’t exactly in a row in their closet. At this point, I feel it’s more important that they learn the value of “thank you” and “you’re welcome,” but that’s up to you.
Disclaimer – Same as the disclaimer in my last post. However, in reference to the derogatory comments I mentioned after each task—don’t actually say them to the kids. Seriously, as much as it’d probably make you feel better, and sound funny, it’s detrimental to their development and self-esteem. Just correct them accordingly, have patience, and keep persistent. They’re not going to get it on the first try, or probably even the second. But they eventually will, and they’ll have a solid foundation to build more good habits upon as they get older.