Every parent wants their children to grow up into healthy, well adjusted, functioning adults.  This is not a result that can be left to chance.  There are many ways you can help your children to develop life skills through family interaction that will help them in school and when they leave home.

Self esteem, responsibility and communication are three areas that can be fostered in a family setting.

Self Esteem

Self esteem is essential for a child to reach their full potential.  If they don’t like themselves, they will find it hard to make friends and to achieve success at school.  They will see little value in themselves and will be unwilling to try new things for fear of failure.

Every child is different.  They have different personalities and different gifts.  As parents, it’s your job to discover your child’s assets and help them to develop into the person that were destined to be.  Some children are outgoing by nature and some are shy and retiring.  They are usually labeled an extrovert or an introvert.  Either way is neither good nor bad.  Each is a special personality type and to try to make an introvert more outgoing is not respecting who that child is.

When you accept children for who they are, it releases them to be themselves and not to have to try to live up to someone else’s expectations.  I think all parents have to be cheerleaders, encouraging their kids in whatever they choose to do.  If a child is into sports, encourage them to join a team. If they are into bird watching, buy them the best binoculars for wildlife or bird watching.

In order for a child to feel good about themselves, an attitude of respect for each other must be fostered in the home. Watch what you say to your child. Be positive, not negative. Praise them for their achievements and for their effort. There will be times when bad behavior must be pointed out, but if you have consistently been rewarding good behavior, they will listen much more readily to a rebuke.

Be conscious of how the siblings treat each other. Don’t allow disrespect, either in words or in deeds. If there is a disagreement, teach them how to resolve the conflict.


Children need to learn responsibility.  They must be taught that they are stewards of the material goods that they have been blessed with.  They need to take care of their home and their personal belongings.  Here is where parents must set a good example.  You can’t expect your child to learn to hang up their coat if yours is always draped over a chair.  A messy and dirty home is no example to anyone.  If you don’t take care of your things,  your children won’t do it either.

It’s important for children to have assigned chores that they are responsible to do every week.  They need to learn that we all have a responsibility when it comes to running a household.  There are many chores that children of all ages can do.

  • Elementary children can set the table.

  • Everyone should take their plates to the kitchen when they are through eating.
  • Almost all ages can be taught to put their dirty clothes in some type of receptacle.
  • Older children can fold the laundry.
  • ry to get all your children to put their clean clothes away.
  • Toys should have containers where they are kept. 


The home is the perfect classroom for developing communication skills. Your children should feel free to share their ideas without fear of being ridiculed. Each family member is important and they should have the chance to contribute to the discussion.  There will probably be different viewpoints, so this is an excellent opportunity to learn how to respect another’s view, even if you don’t agree with it.

Listening is a very important part of communication.  Let the other person finish talking before you jump into the discussion.  Because emotion can be involved when we feel strongly about something, try to read their body language. This can help us understand where they are coming from. If things get too hot, take a break.

If you aren’t sure what they mean, repeat back to them what you think they said. If they are trying to convince you of something, make sure they have their facts straight. Don’t let them off with fuzzy thinking. The ability to communicate clearly is a skill that they will use all of their lives.

While most communication will take place in a group setting, such as at dinnertime or a family meeting, sometimes a child needs to talk privately to you. I can guarantee you this will be at an inconvenient time, but when they want to talk, you had better be available to listen.

By building self esteem, instilling responsibility and learning to communicate effectively, you will be developing important life skills in your family. It’s a scary world out there, but if you have taught and modeled effective behavior, it will help them as they leave home and go out on their own.