I’ve mentioned core life skills a number of times, but so far, I’ve not said anything about what they are. Core life skills are easy to define: they are the basic skills you need to lead a happy and successful life. This is simple enough to say, but it can be difficult to identify every possible core skill that a child needs to develop. It is, however, much easier to identify basic types of skills, and in the How To Raise A Happy Genius philosophy, there are seven sets of core life skills. These are: Intellectual skills, financial skills, critical thinking skills, intrapersonal skills, interpersonal skills, physical skills and practical skills.
While the actual skills in some of these skill sets will be relatively obvious, others will be much less intuitive, but you may be surprised as to how important they are in raising a happy genius! So what exactly are the core life skills in each of these skill sets? Well, let’s take at look each skill set in more detail:
1. Academic skills: Academic skills are the most obvious skills that a child needs to learn, and these are the traditional skills that are taught in schools (although you shouldn’t rely entirely on schools for teaching them, particularly if the way they are taught does not fit well with the way your individual child’s brain actually works). These skills include things like reading, writing, interpretation of the written word, maths, understanding how the world works, and a basic understanding of science and the scientific method.
2. Financial skills: Financial skills are all to often overlooked, but it is a lack of financial skills that causes many adults to be unhappy. In fact, I suspect (but have no evidence for!) that in the developed world, this is ones of the biggest underlying cause of adult unhappiness, alongside feeling unfulfilled with how your life has turned out. This is because even if they may be very academically intelligent and end up in jobs that earn large amounts of money, many adults remain on a financial knife-edge for their entire lives. Teaching children good financial skills from a young age is critical for ensuring that this does not happen to them. The core financial skills are quite straight-forward to identify and at their most basic consist of an understanding of how money works, and the closely related how to handle money (or how to run a budget). Yet, these highly important skills are rarely, if ever, taught in schools, and it is a skill that many parents lack too, so there is little opportunity for kids to pick these skills up without specific training. This means that poor financial skills perpetuate through generations causing a continuous cycle of unhappiness. Yet, with some basic training, children can be taught these financial skills and this cycle can finally be broken.
3. Critical thinking skills: Critical thinking skills are classified separately from academic skills because they are so important not just for learning, but for everyday life. Good critical thinking stops people being able to take advantage of you, whether that is in your job, in your personal life, or when assessing what is the best thing to spend your hard-earned cash on. These core skills include assessing evidence, problem solving, lateral thinking, a more detailed knowledge of the scientific method as a way of working out what the best thing to do in a given circumstance is, and working out why people (others and yourselves) do what they do in response to specific situations they may find themselves in.
4. Intrapersonal skills: Intrapersonal skills are those skills that relate to how you, as an individual, deal with life, and all that it has to throw at you. There are many of them, but probably the five most important are: delayed gratification and self-control, self-confidence, persistence, coping with failure and keeping yourself safe. Some of these may seem to be fixed personality traits, but they are not, they are all learnable, and generally we only assume that they are fixed traits because they are skills we learn (or fail to learn) at a very young age. As a result, they are some of the most important skills to teach kids from a very young age. Of these five, the most important is delayed gratification, and the extent to which a child has developed delayed gratification at a young age is a more important determinant of their success in later life than almost any other known measure. Yet, this is a skill that few are ever encouraged to work on because most people do not know about or understand its importance.
5. Interpersonal skills: Interpersonal skills are those skills that relate to how you interact with the world around you. They are the ones that control how much you contribute to your wider community, whatever that may be, and how that wider community impacts your life. They include: empathy and respect for others, awareness of the world around you, an understanding of how politics (of all kinds) works, and how to spot and avoid interacting with people who do not have your best interest at heart.
6. Physical skills: Physical skills are all too often ignored during a child’s development. It is not just a matter of whether a kid is sporty or not, but rather it is about ensuring that they know how to look after their bodies and how to get the best from them. These are not about developing the skills required for a specific sport, but rather it is about developing the baseline set of skills required to allow a child to compete in any sport, should they choose to do so. Even if they don’t, they will none-the-less be better able to cope with the world. These core life skills include the development of coordination, flexibility and core body strength, and healthy eating.
7. Practical skills: Practical skills are those skills which enable you to actually get on with life, but they are also the ones that will change most frequently as the world, and society, changes over time. This makes them some of the hardest skills to teach your children. Luckily, though, these are often also the easiest skills for children to pick up (as can be attested by the many adults who have to consult their younger relatives to help them with modern technology!) The key element here is that you need to be constantly aware of what is coming over the horizon and ensure that your child learns any new core practical skills as they enter their world so that they don’t get left behind. This is especially important when it comes to practical skills related to technology. At the present time core practical skills include things like how to cook a healthy meal, basic first aid, how to drive, how a car works, how a computer works, how the internet works, how to use tools to fix things and how to read a map.
So these are are types of skills that a child needs to develop in order to grow up to be a happy genius, and as this site grows, we will explore specific skills within these seven skill sets in more detail.
About The Author: This post was written by Colin Drysdale, the creator of How To Raise A Happy Genius.