Life skills or Grades..Part – 1

Life Skills

I recently had a high school reunion with who I have had some wonderful childhood memories. It was a fantastic weekend with a few of my friends recalling every minute detail for which I drew a blank , most of the time. Now that I have crossed 50, it amazed me how some people lived and cherished their life in their childhood and were still living in the past, some had no clue like me, some were bitter because of a teacher or a school head treating them badly that there still had trauma over it.
As you get older, we do have a tendency to introspect and see reality as it is with sugarcoating.
Childhood memories can make or break a person, which I agree. I will leave that for the psychologists to talk about and that can be personal but what was interesting is the life that people chose to live and how they shaped as a person.

 Immaterial of whether it was school or college, there were a couple of patterns..
a. The most successful one’s in school or college ( the A-graders ) didn’t necessarily translate to “highly successful, rock the charts” careers.
b. The “lords of the back benches” or the back benchers or the trouble makers did far better than expected and their survival skills are worth talking about. 

So what are these “survival skills” and why we should teach them to kids? I am focusing more on kids who are in their high school as I have one and contrary to what everyone thinks, this is the time where we need to get even more involved in shaping them. If they don’t get it by now, they are never going to get it.
In my language, we have an expression that translates to the following “What you cannot learn at 5, you will definitely not be able to learn at 60”.
What are the required life skills for high schoolers?

 1. Communication: 

Have you been to someone’s home where a parent gushes out the achievement’s/medals of their children and that they could spell every word under the sun? Then comes this wonderful child who absolutely could not lift his head from the books or a game other than the first “hello”. Conversing with someone is an art and is not a born skill. It is such an integral part of everyone’s life whether it is to make friends, talk to bosses and employees, neighbors, strangers and the list goes on…

Yet, this skill is given no importance for this simple skills can solve problems, can teach you mutual respect, resolve conflicts, alleviate loneliness and create a sense of belonging and being connected. With devices and technology, it is only going to get worse.

What can we do as a parent? We are the role models as parents. Until a child sees us socializing, the teen is not going to do it. Create opportunities to hang out.

Be an unattached observer and ask yourself if the child really has friends. If not, talk to them and be their friend to understand what is holding them back. All of us have fears that might be big to them but relatively insignificant for an adult.

 2. Organization and Time Management skills: 

Create an environment for the kids to hang out or give them freedom to explore new friendships or avenues to learn this skill. There are enough opportunities everywhere..

This topic is so near and dear to me. I have a dear son who has ADHD whose organizational and time management skills needs a bit of direction.

For years and even now, it is work in progress and definitely can say that we are moving in the right direction.

School work and studying for exams..oh boy..it used to drive me nuts..Tried charts, calendars, timers…name it..nothing worked.. After some frustration, I decided that I needed to understand what makes him tick and took a pause for a few weeks. Clear sign…On stuff that he is motivated, he will be the most organized kid and the most efficient in terms of time.
Ask him to charge his cell phone, pack his stuff for the camp, plan his play date with friends..Amazing skill.. but on things he is not interested, he can drive me crazy..

So, I balance it by giving positive reinforcement with phrases as to how well he did with this task etc…Homework, studying for subjects.. we work collaboratively and all he gets is a list. I don’t focus on the time but getting it done is more important at this point than the time it took. The key thing to remember that it does take time and patience is needed!!


c. Stop pause Think
For years, I have heard this phrase “Fight or Freeze” approach of our lower part of the brain. I heard it but never processed it until it hit me one day. With an ADHD child, believe me, we have spent a few years screaming, yelling with my son up in arms with a “FIGHT” boxing demeanor.

Now, that only little change in both of us has made wonders. This is not only for him but for me as a parent as well. It is a learned skill and paves the way for being mindful.

As I take a pause, so does he. No judgements-no opinions. Let things be as they are. We talk and we allow each other to explain our points. I analyze in front of him and that has taught him that he needs to think it through. We recently had to go to the hospital to get my son’s sutures removed because of a jammed finger. He wanted to run to the school to catch up with his friends as he had missed school. Doc was late and the good old kid would have screamed and gotten upset and I would have too. This time around, it started but the way it was deflected was a scene play out of a move…..I explained that the “Doc is in surgery and I know it is frustrating. I know you wanted to meet my friends. We can go to the school but then how would you like to get this suture removed. If you don’t, it might cause an infection. Let me know how we should address this?”….That changed and after some silence it was poetry to my ears. “It’s okay, mom. Let’s just stay back”.

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