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Raising kids is one of the biggest roller coasters you will ever go on in your life. Filled with thrills, twists, turns, being pooed on and spewed on – it’s full-on, 24/7 and one of the biggest, most important jobs in the whole wide world.

From the time our offspring are conceived, our job as parents is to create the best environment we can provide for them to grow emotionally, physically, mentally, energetically and spiritually. No big deal. There are only like 10,000 things we need to teach them before they leave home! 

Here are 9 things that I believe you should teach your children before they leave home.


  1. Health is Your Most Valuable Asset


Children need to be careful what they allow in their bodies, whether that be the things they consume, the things they watch and listen to, and the environment they spend time in. Their body is their temple and they need to learn to look after themselves and make good decisions. 

Simple personal hygiene skills and how to listen to your body to avoid illness are big ones. With so much information on the internet now about health, if you catch a cold, your kids need to learn how to heal it themselves with food, vitamins and home remedies before heading to the doctor and using pharmaceuticals. Antibiotic resistance is a huge concern for the future.

Children should also learn to look after their emotional and mental health – meditation is a great skill for children to learn as are emotional freedom techniques.  Understanding what real food is, what is in their food and how to read food labels to make considered choices is also key. They need to know how to cook quick healthy meals that are affordable (lentils and legumes are super affordable and healthy). And of course, children need to learn the importance of moving their bodies and create strong habits of exercising daily to stay physically fit. 


  1. Self-Discipline and Responsibility


Many children have very little self-discipline. They are used to getting what they want straight away and rarely go without. If children aren’t taught the skill of delaying gratification, how to have self-discipline and be responsible, they will likely turn into adults that overeat, overspend and overuse technology. They are likely to live an unhappy life addicted to things like food, shopping, gaming, drugs, alcohol and porn. Professor Walter Mischel from Stanford University studied four-year-old children to see their level of self-discipline and the impact it had on their lives 10 – 15 years later. The children were given one marshmallow each and told they could eat it, but if they waited for  fifteen minutes, the researcher would come back and give them another. Two-thirds of the kids didn’t wait and ate the marshmallow straight away. The effects on them later in life were extraordinary; many that couldn’t delay gratification didn’t finish school, and or didn’t end up employed. 

Gaming has increased our addiction to getting little rewards all the time for our efforts. Real life isn’t like this. Teach your child to work hard even though the reward may not be for many days, weeks, months or years. To teach your children about delayed gratification, you need to set up some things in their life that take a while to achieve. Think of some short-term goals (within a week), medium-term goals (within a few months) and some long-term goals (over a year). It could be a toy they want, a family toy like a boat or a dream holiday. Whatever it is your child or family dreams of, bring your children in on the journey to achieve it.

Have a family meeting every week where you can discuss updates and the sacrifices and hard work it’s taking to achieve the goal. Use these times as a learning opportunity for your children. Our family is going meat-free two days a week and putting the money we would have spent on meat aside to save $2000 towards a holiday. Get your kids involved in making small sacrifices and see their motivation rise. 


  1. Respect for Money


Money worries are a common cause for unhappiness in life. If you can teach your children to

save from an early age, be frugal, avoid overspending and spend money on experiences instead of things and stuff, they will hopefully be able to experience life to its fullest. 

Teach your children about saving in simple ways. For example, “We always take our own water with us”. Ensure they know why (to save plastic from the environment, and so we don’t waste money on things we can have for free from home). Children need to learn that life costs money and that wasting money on small things daily and weekly can certainly add up. 

It’s also important that our children learn how to earn money. Your kids will want to find their purpose in life and hopefully will earn money from that purpose. But until they find their purpose, they need to be prepared to work at a job they may not enjoy. Sometimes the only purpose of our work is to earn money to live, and that’s a pretty good purpose! Having a job you love and get paid for is a blessing, it’s not something everyone gets to have. They say the happiest people are those who do jobs that they do just for the money, as then they don’t put too much emphasis on their job and invest too much time and energy. Whereas those that are totally in love with their job at times overinvest and burn out. We can always have our need for purpose met outside of being paid, like volunteering and doing things we love. Not everyone finds their purpose in a career and that is ok. 

It’s great to teach your kids about what to do with money. You can set up five piggy banks labelled ‘save’, ‘goal’, ‘spend’, ‘share’ and ‘splurge’. ‘Save’ is for their future home or car one day. ‘Goal’ is savings for something short-term (under two years) they are saving for, such as a family holiday. ‘Spend’ is for living expenses, such as clothes, personal hygiene or items for school. ‘Share’ is for donating to charities or buying things for others. ‘Splurge’ is to blow on dinners out, toys and things you don’t need, but want. Putting physical money in these, alongside having a budget and goals where the progress can be tracked through the piggy bank will help teach your children about money.


  1. Perseverance and Managing Fear


Fear holds back so many people and it is the ultimate thing to gain control of if you want to have a great life. As a society, we are so fearful which often means we are frozen and only achieve half of what we want to in life. We need more strong people, especially parents, to master their fear and use it to their advantage. 

The thing is, fear can be a wonderful thing. So our children need to learn that if they are fearful of doing something, it certainly means that they shouldn’t do it if it’s bad. But, if it’s something they are fearful of that is good, it means they care about it but need to know how to manage that so that they don’t shy away when they are scared. Like being scared of performing, sure, it’s something to be scared about but they need to learn to manage that fear and push through it so that they can do the next thing that scares them. Our kids need to use fear as a motivator. Many millionaires didn’t start their life growing up wealthy. They started poor and used their fear of being poor as a child as a huge motivator to not raise a family in the same circumstances. Fear of failing, the fear of not being liked and the fear of being a mediocre parent or leader are all things that can make us push harder. Fear can help us try, learn, and want to be more. Our kids need to know this too.


  1. Emotional Intelligence and Resilience


Children tend to be very self-focused, so teaching them emotional intelligence can easily be a parent’s hardest task. We all have that adult relative who still behaves like a teenager emotionally. They lose their cool, scream, yell, withdraw, give up or go into depression when they don’t get their way, or when the going gets tough. Use this person as motivation to raise your kids with emotional intelligence. 

Magnify their emotions when they are behaving nicely. For instance, “I saw that you were smiling when leaving school today, what made you so happy? I love seeing you like that”. It’s great to magnify their feelings when our children are in a good emotional space. It’s then talking about their emotions when they are not behaving nicely. Often our children are struggling with emotions and they may be angry, sad, or frustrated and the only way they know how to deal with these emotions is to lash out at others. All feelings are meant to be felt, but children also need to learn how to manage their feelings so as adults they don’t get totally derailed when the going gets tough. Children who can’t manage their emotional state are likely to become young adults who turn to violence or have a negative state of mind,

which can lead to depression and anxiety or negative behaviours if they don’t know how to manage their emotions. 

Sure, some of these things are genetic, but that just means the individual will need to work harder at having coping mechanisms if depression and / or anxiety run in your gene pool.


  1. To Love Unconditionally


Kids are born to love unconditionally. We start putting conditions on love as we get older, and kids learn this from us. We are mere mortals, and no one is perfect. To love others unconditionally, we must first love ourselves, so we need to model this with our children. We need to talk about what we love about ourselves, tell our kids what we love about them and encourage them to look for what they love in others instead of what they don’t love in others.

We must instil in our kids that sometimes people do bad things, but it doesn’t always mean that they are bad people. They just made a bad choice. That is why when our children do the wrong thing, we mustn’t make it that they are a bad person. For example, “What you have done is bad”, instead of “You are bad”. We tell them that everyone makes mistakes, but what they did was wrong and what they do to rectify it is what stands us apart. We need to be very careful as parents not to shame our children. So, when they do the wrong thing, they need to know the behaviour was bad, not that they are bad. Shame corrodes the part of us that believes we can change and do better. We need to show forgiveness and compassion to love unconditionally. 


  1. Do Not Compare 


Comparing in any way is the biggest thief of joy. Comparing your kids to each other or other kids just leads to resentment and shame. Comparing belongings is a huge trap and it is so easy to fall into the trap of wanting more. With thousands of marketing messages being thrown at us daily to buy more stuff, it’s no wonder kids compare what they have to keep up with the Jones’s. Children will often wish their families were millionaires, and are sad when someone gets something when they don’t. It’s not a nice way to live. The world is not equal and our children need to learn this hard fact. 

Most of us think we will be happier when we get a new phone, new clothes, or a new car until that new toy loses its novelty. Then, we dream of the next best thing. Humans spend more money on “stuff” to make themselves feel better and increase their ego than on anything else in the world. It is scary how much time and money we waste on ego purchases.

Children need to be taught that life is about what you give, not what you get. When your child says “Sammy got more than me”, tell them to focus on what they got, not what they didn’t get. It’s easy to try and make it equal, but it’s a trap to always make things equal. Teach your children to care more about what they actually got than what someone else received, and to care more about being a giving person. Life is a lot happier when we stop the ‘wanting’ cycle and move to a place of satisfaction and gratefulness. This is a place where we are satisfied and grateful with our home, car, body, lifestyle, work, relationships and ourselves and not comparing things with others.


  1. Respect for Self, Others and the Environment

No one wants to raise a child that turns into an adolescent or adult that has zero respect for others or for themselves. To teach children about respect, we need to respect them. Speak to your children like you would to another adult. “I told you to fold the towels properly, now go to your room” wouldn’t work on a house cleaner, so why would we speak like that to our children? We need to model being respectful at all times. That includes ourselves, others and the environment and people’s choices that are different to our own. If your child is showing you disrespect, we need to look at why. It’s easy to yell “How dare you disrespect me!”, but it’s important to ask them why. True respect has to be earned in most cases. The best thing we can do is to always act respectfully and be wonderful role models. 

Respect for the environment is also a biggy. Of course, we need to care for all living things and be environmentally friendly, but we also need to show respect to other cultures, countries, beliefs and traditions if they are different from our own. 


  1. Love of Learning 


If we aren’t learning, we are dying. Too often I hear adults talking about how much they hated school and this negativity of learning rubs off on our kids. We need to be very positive about all opportunities for our children to learn, even the things they learn that aren’t so positive (like how to deal with a bully at school). Children need to see us learning through reading, watching documentaries, cooking and talking through the learnings in books and movies we watch with our family. 

There are opportunities to teach our children every day. On the road driving? Talk about why we always look at intersections even if it’s a green light in case someone runs a red light, or why we soak the clothes before we wash them sometimes. Teach your kids at every opportunity, get them interested and intrigued at why you do things. You would be amazed at what they retain.

If your kids see you doing something new, explain to them what you are learning and offer for them to learn with you. The best way to learn is to teach. It’s also important to allow your children to teach you things. This cements their learning. If they are learning times tables, ask them to teach you, if they learn how to do code at school, ask them to teach you too. By showing your kids you love to learn, and by teaching them as you learn, they will also foster a love of learning. Ask your kids every day; “what did you learn today and did you teach anyone anything?” 


  • Bree James

    Bree James, epitomises ‘entrepreneur’. From starting her first official business at the age of eighteen, to running one of Australia’s most successful regional publishing companies, Bree has entrepreneurial DNA in every fibre of her being. The eternal solution finder, Bree’s innate ability to seize opportunity and fill market gaps has attributed to her huge success in the business world. But she’s more than just the driving force behind her own enterprises. Working with organisations around the country, Bree is also an acclaimed presenter, author, podcaster, travel writer, YouTuber, performer, and an inspirational mentor to small business owners everywhere. Her philosophy in life is to be brave, be bold and be brilliant.