by Tatum Oman, LPC, RTP-S
Life skill goals for children can help them now as well as the future. Goals could include learning how to be present, creating things from what is available on hand, learning how to cook/bake, learning how to garden, learning how to fish or learning how to do basic car maintenance. Sometimes when making a goal it can be too broad and without a lot of direction. Be sure and make clear goals that are measurable and easily identified when obtained. Having specific written life skills can help with more focus and motivation to those specific goals.
ABOUT THAT GOAL
Setting a goal can be a joint effort with you and your child or individually for your child. When appropriate, I encourage you to share that goal with your child to instill confidence, ownership of the goal, and their cooperation in helping them to succeed. They may get excited that you want to help them learn something new or conquer something. If the goal is something of contention, it may not be helpful to share as it could place more pressure on your child. We want to set your child up for success so if they think of a large goal this is ok, however, it may require small goals within the larger goal so it feels obtainable. Write the goal out and put it somewhere that can be seen daily for encouragement. If it is a larger goal with smaller ones within it, post the smaller goals as well and check them off as they are conquered! Acknowledge all steps that are made. The reward for accomplishing a goal is that amazing feeling of empowerment and success.
A Few Life Skills...
Being present to me means without electronics, social media, music or even books. It is being where you are and not thinking about the past or future. There are no thoughts of where am I going next or what was missed out on or regrets of yesterday. There are no thoughts of anything besides what is going on right in that moment and needing nothing more than what they have. This is also a time without conflict. When teaching how to be more present, it can be helpful to go through the senses. Some examples include laying outside on the ground looking at the clouds and image searching, watching and listening to moving water, watching any movement without judgment, listening to birds chirping, lying in a hammock and soaking up sunshine, coloring, meditating or doing yoga. It may be needed to start with a moment being present and build to 5-10 minutes up to an hour and beyond. An objective goal for becoming more present could be spending 10 minutes outside as a family listening to the animals, your surroundings, and looking at clouds. Then, each can share what they heard and experienced in detail.
CREATING WITH AVAILABILITY
Being able to create things with what is available can be useful too many things in life. This skill is about flexibility and adaptability. Taking a box and making a shield, helmet, or bus. Making an obstacle course in their backyard. Taking inventory of what craft items are available and what can be created with those things, natural items and recycling. Utilizing what was to be recycled and creating something new is an amazing skill. With assistance, looking at what is available to make a flowerpot holder, bird box or foot stool. There can be great value in learning how to line things up, putting them together while taking into consideration what the object is being made for. If it is a bird box, what type birds live around the house? What size would be needed or how tall would a foot stool need to be to be comfortable? How does it need to be constructed to be sturdy and safe for use? Building also takes patience and mindfulness of safety with the tools as well. An objective goal for this life skill could be creating something new from resources that is useful to a person without asking to buy anything.
LEARNING HOW TO COOK/BAKE
Cooking and baking can be regulating activities. There are different ways of cooking and baking, some including recipes and measuring while others are more the feel, taste and altering. There is value in either method. There can be many things learned when cooking and baking. For instance, at times it is necessary to change the bake time or recipe if baking at higher altitude. This reinforces the skill of flexibility. If the recipe was followed strictly then it may not bake correctly. This can be especially helpful for rule followers to learn. Cooking and baking can also help teach time management. This process can also teach when ingredients are bad, if they are missing and the effects, and how to know if the food is cooked thoroughly. These lessons are priceless. An objective goal for learning how to cook/bake could be cooking a complete healthy meal that adheres to your family’s dietary needs. I hope you and your family enjoy the process of acknowledging, focusing on and accomplishing some life skills. It can help to have a goal written out so not to be forgotten about. The time and energy utilized on the present self and future self will be well spent with no regrets!
Tatum Oman is a licensed therapist offering parent coaching and play therapy remotely with children (as young as 3 years old), that are experiencing a trauma, are fearful, have social concerns and/or are having a hard time emotionally/ behaviorally. For more information or to schedule a therapy session please visit www.kidlifecolorado.com or call Tatum at (720) 470- 7244.