12 Basic Skills Every Child Should Have by the Time they Turn 18

skills every child should have by 18

As parents, our children mean the world to us and we would do anything to protect and raise them to become happy and well-adjusted individuals who are ready to face the world. However, this form of overparenting often ends up with the opposite effect, leaving our children unprepared to face and function in the world as adults.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success”, says that we, as parents, might be doing too much for our children. “We have the very best of intentions, but when we over-help, we deprive them of the chance to learn these really important things that it turns out they need to learn to be prepared to be out in the world of work, to get an apartment, to make their way through an unfamiliar town, to interact with adults who aren’t motivated by love,” she emphasises.

So, if you are looking to free the reins of helicopter parenting and prepare your child for life as a confident young adult, Lythcott-Haims shares this list of basic skills which every child should know by the time they are done with school:

1. Wake up on time by themselves

Once your children grow up to become teenagers, they should have the confidence to wake themselves up and get ready for school in clean clothing. However, a lot of young adults are experiencing difficulties in basic skills such as this, as their parents are often on standby to ensure that the morning school routine goes smoothly.

“We feel the stakes are high, and therefore we must help, but the stakes are low in childhood compared to what they will be in college, and what they’ll really be in the world beyond,” Lythcott-Haims explains.

2. Put together their own meals

While it is normal practice for you to prepare meals for the family on most days, you might want to give your children the opportunity to learn to fix their own meals too. This sort of competence can be achieved with practice and over time, their confidence in this basic skill of survival gradually develops. “By the time your [child] is in high school, they really ought to be able to do everything related to their own care, if they had to,” Lythcott-Haims affirms.

3. Help with household chores and go grocery shopping

We need to teach our children to do basic household chores from young, as there are important lessons to be learnt from this simple act. Not only are you teaching them the value of helping out at home, this also teaches them about responsibility and the domestic skills that will come in handy later on in life.

Once they feel confident enough about their abilities in taking care of household chores, they should be ready to tackle grocery shopping as well. Teenagers should know how to find their way in a supermarket on their own and shop for essential items for the home, at least with the help of a shopping list. To do this successfully, Lythcott-Haims recommends that parents “show their [children] the ropes, watch them do it themselves once to make sure they’ve got it, and then let them handle it on their own.”

Find out how the programmes at MindChamps could help your child do well in school and in life! Book a complimentary personal coaching session to know more.

4. Order at restaurants

If your teens have yet to order for themselves while eating out, it is high time that you let them give this a try – instead of them assuming that mum or dad will order for the whole family. To do this, remind them to look the server in the eye, be polite when communicating their request and end it with a “thank you”.

“One day before long, they’re going to be out with friends, and they’re going to want to have that skill to not only order food, but to do so respectfully,” Lythcott-Haims says.

5. Find his/her way around

Most of us have made it a habit to drive or accompany our children everywhere, even when they can easily make their way to the destination through public transport or by walking. As a result, they become heavily dependent on us for directions and struggle with deciding on the transportation options that will get them there. This is a skill which they will need later on in life as they navigate their way around the city where they are working or studying, both locally and abroad.

To give your children the confidence in finding their own way, do give them opportunities to run small errands by themselves (e.g. to head to the neighbourhood shopping mall for some groceries) and have a go at meeting their friends at a designated place with the help of Google maps and the public transportation system.


Teaching your child to “talk to strangers” and have the courage to take risks could benefit them as they grow up. More details of this on the next page.

“Turn Off Your Mobile Phone” and 5 Other Ways to Make Your Spouse Feel Special

how to make your spouse feel special

In the midst of our daily rush, we sometimes take the person closest to us for granted. Here are some simple suggestions for you to spend time with your spouse and let him/her know that he/she is special to you in every way.

1. Keep in Touch with Messages

Even when you are busy, a short note to let your spouse know that you are thinking about him/her will make him/her feel special and important.

2. Turn Your Mobile Phone Off

Set your mobile phone to silent or airplane mode when you are having a meal together. Give your undivided attention to each other.

3. Take up a New Hobby

Setting aside time to take up a new hobby together will mean that you will learn something together and interact with each other in new ways. Find something which you both like and set aside some time each week to pursue it.

4. Set Aside Time

Make time for each other every week. You don’t have to plan anything grand, just let each other know that you will not make any other commitments and then plan to spend that time doing something you both enjoy and which is only for yourselves. In other words, don’t spend that time queuing up to collect your daughter’s registered letter from the post office – go for coffee together instead!

5. Have Breakfast Together

Start your day together! Even if it is a quick bite at the coffee shop on your way to work, or perhaps 30 minutes at your dining table each morning, breakfast is a wonderful time to connect. Dinners are often a time when the entire family gets together, but breakfast can be a time for just the two of you.

6. Exercise Together

Some couples find that getting up half an hour earlier and going for a morning walk, or making time for a weekly jog in the park is a great way to achieve more. You’ll get to spend quality time with your spouse and improve your health at the same time!


This article is a simplified version of the original article, “30 Ways to Spend More Time with Your Family”. Republished with permission from Families for Life.

Are You Raising a Quitter? Here’s How You Can Inspire Your Child to Persevere

“It’s not that I am so smart; it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

– Albert Einstein


perseverance in children

As they grow up, our children will inevitably face challenges both big and small every day. In dealing with life’s challenges, do they accept defeat and give up easily, or do they try again and persevere?

Numerous research have shown that perseverance (the ability to stick with tough tasks) is often used as a measure of how successful our children will be in life. Children who learn to bounce back and refuse to allow setbacks get them down have gained a very important life skill that will help them succeed in this competitive world today.

But what can you do if you happen to be raising a child who gets discouraged easily? Read on for some simple, proven strategies to turn your child’s “I give up!” into “I did it!”:

1. Tone down your praises

We often find ourselves showering our children with praises and words of encouragement in a bid to inspire them with the belief that they can do anything, as long as they set their mind to it. However, this action might result in the opposite effect by stifling their self-confidence and turning on the need for constant affirmation for their efforts.

A study conducted by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., a Stanford University psychology professor and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, revealed that children who are commended for their results or ability tend to fall apart when things do not go their way. On the other hand, children who are praised for their effort are more likely to persevere as they learn that every achievement in life is a result of hard work.

Based on the findings of the study, the key is to create a good balance in praising and to focus your words on your child’s actions, rather than his/her ability. This includes telling him/her that you admire the creativity that he/she has put in to complete the task or how he/she takes things in stride with a positive attitude.

2. Be a good role model

As with other aspects of parenting, your children are more likely to follow what you do rather than what you say. This principle rings true especially when it involves values that you hope to instil in your kids.

Show your children that you persevere on a task even when things get challenging – it is alright for them to see how you handle your own struggles every once in a while. To take things further, you can also initiate a family motto which incorporates perseverance such as “Winners never quit, quitters never win” and “We finish what we started”. With a family motto of commitment to live by, your children will be more likely to use it when they are facing their own challenges and won’t be succumbed to say, “I quit!”.

3. Help them look at failure from a different light

Most children tend to give up due to a fear of failing and falling behind their peers. Thus, it is essential that you explain to your child that setbacks are an essential part of the learning process and not a hurdle that prevents them from achieving their goals.

Dr. Jim Taylor, author of Your Children are Listening: Nine Messages They Need to Hear from You, shares that when his children face hurdles such as trying to spell simple words, he tells them that the most important thing is to keep going – if they do that long enough, they will get there eventually. To give them a motivational boost, he drills this phrase to them: “The only failure is not trying.”

The way your child learns and thinks could determine his/her success in school. Find out how the programmes at MindChamps could benefit your child’s academic progress – book your seats to our next complimentary workshop now!

4. Remind them about their past successes

“The principle of not giving up is very transferable,” shares David Shenk, author of The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent and IQ.

The great thing about perseverance is that children who have applied this on any given task tend to carry the same drive, determination and confidence to other pursuits. So, the next time your child tells you that he/she is giving up, it may be helpful to remind him/her about the times when he/she succeeded in the past and encourage him/her to persevere until the goals are met.

5. Share stories and wise words on perseverance

Apart from building your child’s literacy skills, books are also a great tool to reinforce values to them, including the concept of perseverance. Some inspiring titles that you could start off with include “Giraffes Can’t Dance”, a tale of Gerald the giraffe who could finally dance, thanks to his determination and encouragement from an unlikely friend; and The Most Magnificent Thing, which follows the adventures of an unnamed girl as she perseveres to create her very own “magnificent thing”.

You can also share the following quotes to remind your child to “try, try again” if they don’t succeed the first time:

“Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” – Samuel Johnson

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” – Vince Lombardi

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” – Julie Andrews

 “I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that did not work.” – Thomas Edison



You Can Help Your Child Persevere by Instilling the Champion Mindset in them!

perseverance in children

Apart from putting the suggested strategies into practice to encourage your child to persevere, you can take this further by enrolling him/her for MindChamps’ Professor Snyder’s Thinking Cap Learning System.

Incorporating the latest requirements in the MOE curriculum, the programme empowers your children with effective learning and thinking skills to help them excel in school, and fosters emotional resilience and effective communication skills in them. The combination of all these skills will help them do well in primary and secondary school, as well as upon moving on to tertiary studies and beyond.

Book your seats for our upcoming workshops to find out more about the programme.

15 Small Yet Impactful Actions to Make Your Kids Feel Loved

actions to make your kids feel loved

Can you remember what made you feel loved as a kid? Think about it. Maybe you remember having a great time with your parents, holidays, being helped with homework or just telling them a few secrets.

As a parent now, are you making the effort to make your kids feel loved? Very often, it is the small things that count. Here are 15 ways to make your kids feel loved. When you become grandparents, you will be touched that they still remember them.

1. Turn Off your Smartphone

actions to make your kids feel loved

When you get home or your kids get back from school, turn off your phone and give them your full attention at least for the first half hour or so. Kids love this because they know you are not going to be distracted by texts as they tell you what happened at school. The Swedish government did a poll and discovered that 33% of kids complained that their parents were always on their smartphones.

2. Turn Off the TV and All Gadgets at Mealtimes

actions to make your kids feel loved

Not much fun when kids have to compete with the TV or that everybody is texting away. Mealtimes are rare moments to enjoy each other’s company. There are enormous advantages for kids. They eat more healthily as it is not rushed. They also enjoy the companionship of their parents and they are much less likely to have an eating disorder later on in life.

3. Make Bedtime a Precious Moment

actions to make your kids feel loved

With younger kids, they will always treasure those moments when you read them a story as they drift happily into sleep. It is enormously reassuring and provides a unique bonding experience for parents and kids. The extra bonus is that this also helps your child’s brain development.

Build a love of reading and writing in your child during the early years with MindChamps Reading & Writing programmes. Book a complimentary literacy assessment for your child now to get started!

4. Show Physical Affection

actions to make your kids feel loved

Countless studies show that kids thrive on warmth and affection. Your child feels loved and will have a greater self-esteem. There is no need to go overboard but a kiss or a hug once a day will do you both a lot of good. It lessens the chances of your kids becoming aggressive, anti-social and having other behavioural problems. While adolescents might be embarrassed at the physical affection, there should always be words of support and empathy to take its place.

5. Spend Quality Time with Each Child

actions to make your kids feel loved

It is wonderful when a parent or both parents can spend quality time on a one-on-one basis with their kids. This is great because they feel special when their siblings are not around. It can be anything from playing sports, cooking, or helping with chores. There is no better way of showing your kids that you really love and cherish them.


Leaving funny and affectionate notes and simply by looking into your child’s eyes tell all of your love for him/her. More on this on the next page.

5 Ways to Entertain Your Child Without TV

spending time without tv

Our children live in a generation where every form of technology is available to them. Computers, Playstations, iPads and televisions offer programmes that can entertain our children 24 hours a day.

However research shows that children who watch more than two hours of television a day have a significantly increased chance of developing emotional, behavioural, academic and social problems. Common sense tells us that time watching television replaces time that could be spent engaging in other developmentally beneficial activities.

As parents, we need to think of alternative ways to keep our children entertained. Here are our top five:

1. Organise Play Dates

Young children need daily opportunities to socialise with their peers. When children play together they are learning to discuss, negotiate, empathise, share and cooperate. Social interaction also greatly extends a child’s vocabulary.

Encourage your children to engage in pretend play, by having a ‘dress-up’ box available, with a variety of props. When children engage in pretend play they are ‘practising life’, that is, they are learning how to deal with real life social situations and solve problems through experimenting in the safety of a pretend play scenario.

2. Encourage Physical Activity

Worldwide research shows that preschool children need at least one hour of structured physical activity (such as gym or dance class) and up to six hours of additional unstructured physical activity every day (such as playing in the park). Physical activity increases overall health, bone density, muscle strength and gross motor skills, and has a strong positive effect on brain development.

3. Read to Your Child

Reading to your child every day is considered the greatest way to increase your child’s vocabulary and to ensure their success as a future reader and writer. Reading is a “bonding experience” between parent and child, which increases a child’s sense of safety and security. Children who have a strong bond with their parents do better at school, in relationships and life.

Do you know how well your child is reading and writing now? Book a complimentary MindChamps literacy assessment to find out now!

4. Make or Build Something

Children love expressing their creativity through making objects and pieces of art. Leave craft materials on a table for your child to ‘discover’ so that it is a self-directed activity. Remember, it is not the product that is important, it is the process. The ‘process’ here is the high order cognitive function of creative problem-solving.

5. Do Puzzles

A great variety of educational puzzles are available in every stage of challenge. Jigsaws are particularly good for developing memory, concentration and cognitive skills. And depending on your child’s experience, you can buy or hire jigsaws with anything from 4 pieces to 4000 pieces!


If we fill our children’s days with television watching, we run the risk of raising children who don’t know how to entertain themselves, are passive, unfit and lacking in creativity. When our children are very young, we are the greatest influence on what lifestyle habits they develop. Active healthy children become active healthy adults.

What Champion Teachers at MindChamps PreSchool Are Made Of

As a parent, nothing makes you happier than to see the wide smiles and cheery laughs from your children upon picking them up from preschool. On top of that, the daily conversations that you have with them about their day at school make the highlight of your day – the stories of their friends and teachers never fail to amaze you!

What makes a champion teacher at MindChamps PreSchool

Apart from their passion in a career as a preschool teacher and love of nurturing young minds during the early years, the talents of our MindChamps PreSchool teachers go beyond that. Upon going through rounds of application to select the best preschool teachers, MindChamps teachers would need to undergo up to 200 hours of compulsory training and accreditation throughout the course of their appointment. This is to ensure that they are equipped with the latest skills, techniques and methodologies to deliver the cutting-edge MindChamps PreSchool curriculum to our champs.

Want to find out what a typical day at MindChamps PreSchool is like? Book a visit to a MindChamps PreSchool centre nearest to you now!

“It takes a special kind of person to be a teacher, but it takes an extraordinary person to become an amazing trainer, for training – in the MindChamps sense – is far more than imparting knowledge. It is about how we communicate – how we get others to ‘own the knowledge’ and make it a part of them. It is about becoming a role-model for a successful life.”

Mr David Chiem (Founder , Chairman and Group CEO, MindChamps)


Check out this video to get a glimpse of MindChamps’ training for preschool teachers held recently, and find out what the parents of our champs have to say about our cutting-edge curriculum as well as their review of the MindChamps PreSchool teachers training in preparing our teachers to carry out their important role in the learning process:

Note: Feel free to share this video with someone you know who is considering a career as a preschool teacher.


6 Study Habits that will Help Your Child Succeed in School

study habits to help kids succeed

With every new school term that comes around, there will be homework to get done, as well as tests and exams to prepare for. How well your child fares in these academic areas largely depends on the study habits that they adopt and how they feel towards study and homework time.

As parents, you play an important role of being their pillar of support who encourages and motivates them, while providing a conducive study environment and schedule to help them learn well. After all, studies have shown that children whose parents place a high value on education tend to do significantly better in school than those who don’t.

Here are some things you can do to instil good study habits in your child and help them work towards success during the school year:

1. Set up a routine

As with everything else that your child does at home, establishing some ground rules for study time helps them develop discipline and lets them know what is expected of them.

One of the first things you can do to get them into “study mode” is to set a study routine at a designated time and place, which ideally should be consistent every day. You can get this started by allowing them some “down time” to relax after school before they settle down with their books to tackle the day’s homework or to revise for an upcoming test/exam for a set number of hours. Once they get the hang of this study routine, they should be able to follow this on a daily basis which helps to minimise last minute cramming before an exam.


2. Designate a study spot

Your child’s study environment is another key factor that determines how well he/she studies at home. Oftentimes, families make the mistake of allowing their children to study in a place that may not be the most conducive for concentrating (e.g. the dining area, which is within reach of the TV). The key here is to choose a spot that is free from distractions and which provides a quiet learning environment.

You can help your child to become a Champion Student! Book your seats to MindChamps’ complimentary workshops to find out more.

3. Start a study plan

Take note of all the key dates in the school year (i.e. term exams and breaks), and get your child involved as well. Work on a study calendar together and mark the dates and topics to work on each week.

You can also help him/her set study goals so that he/she has something to work towards. Start by finding out the trend on exam questions and dedicate time for your child to practice doing them every week. With frequent practice, he/she will get better with every try.


You’ll be surprised to find out how study breaks and a positive mindset can do wonders to help your child learn better. Find out more on the next page.

12 Ways to Raise a Competent, Confident Child with Grit

“The exhausting cycle of constantly monitoring their work and performance…makes children feel less competent and confident.”Elizabeth Kolbert

how to raise a confident, competent child

It has become a commonplace idea that failure is good for kids, as it builds resilience. But when children fail over and over and don’t have the support to keep trying, all they learn is that they’re failures. Resilience comes not from failing, but from the experience of learning that you can pick yourself up, try again, and succeed. That requires at least some experience of success and lots of emotional support.

So it’s true that we all learn from overcoming challenges. But we also learn best when we experience success, which motivates us to tackle more difficult challenges. Mastery begets mastery. Failure sets up a cycle of lack of confidence, giving up and more failure.

We are also told that we, as parents, are over-protecting our children. As a result, they don’t gain confidence from learning to handle things for themselves. This is anxiety-provoking for any parent because the line between appropriate support and helicoptering is rarely clear. (Isn’t a helicopter parent just someone who hovers more than you do?) All parents want to protect their children (that’s our job!), but we also don’t want to stymie the development of self-confidence, resourcefulness and grit.

So are kids today really less confident than they used to be? I haven’t seen any convincing research to support that claim. But it certainly stands to reason that the more practice children have in managing themselves and their lives, and overcoming obstacles to meet their goals, the more confidence and competence they’ll develop. And I don’t think it’s news to any parent that our natural desire to protect our children and make sure that everything goes well for them can make us over-protective.

So how do we hit that sweet spot of appropriate support and protection on the one hand, and enough independence to foster confidence and competence on the other?

1. Stop Controlling and Start Coaching

how to raise a confident, competent child

Coaches help kids develop skills, but kids play the game. Your job as a parent is to support your child so he can flourish and develop. Doing things FOR him robs him of the opportunity to become competent. Doing things WITH him teaches him the how-to and builds up confidence. This means we have to manage our own anxiety and let go of our need to control.

Book a complimentary personal coaching session for your child to find out how the programmes at MindChamps could help in his/her academic performance.

2. Remember That Perfection Is Not the Goal

how to raise a confident, competent child

Resist the temptation to “improve” on your child’s task, unless the outcome is vitally important. Constant intervention undermines a child’s confidence and prevents him from learning for himself.

3. Let Him Try To Do It Himself from the Earliest Age

how to raise a confident, competent child

Rein in your own anxiety. That doesn’t mean abandoning him to it. Stand by, smiling, ready to be helpful in whatever way actually helps your child. But do try to keep your comments and hands to yourself except to give appropriate encouragement, unless you REALLY need to help.

Clucking anxiously about how worried you are as he climbs that play structure may make you feel better and impress the other parents at the playground with your attentiveness – but it won’t help your child. In fact, it limits him. Just ask if he is keeping himself safe, then stand by and spot him. Smile proudly and say, “Look at you! I knew you could do it!”

And if he falls, you’re there to catch him. Which is, after all, what allowed him to try it.

4. Help Him Build Confidence by Tackling Manageable Challenges

how to raise a confident, competent child

Emotional development researchers call this “scaffolding,” which could be defined as the framework you give your child on which he builds. You demonstrate how to do something, or you use words to suggest a strategy, or you simply spot him. This assistance helps him to succeed when he tries something new, and small successes achieved with your help give him the confidence to try new things himself. Scaffolding also teaches children that help is always available if they need it. You want your kids to know that deep in their bones before they hit adolescence.

Encourage, encourage, encourage – and other tips to raise a confident, competent child with grit on the next page.

This is How You Can Calm an Anxious Child

phrases to calm an anxious child

Just like adults, children tend to feel anxious about various things at different stages. For example, some may find change difficult, which causes them to feel anxious when starting at a new school. Others may also feel shy when making new friends at playgroups.

Many of these worries are a normal part of growing up and will usually go away gradually on their own. However, anxiety in children can become a problem when it starts to get in the way of their daily routine.

Severe anxiety can harm children’s mental health and emotional well-being, which bruises their self-esteem and confidence. In worst cases, they may become withdrawn and will do whatever it takes to avoid things or situations that make them feel anxious.

While we would like to protect our children from life’s anxious moments, it is also equally important to help them manage their anxiety and sail through life’s challenges. To help you lead your child through these anxious moments, Renee Jain, an award-winning tech entrepreneur and certified life coach, offers these simple phrases:


1. “Can you draw it?”

Your child’s drawings and paintings say a lot about how he/she feels about something. So, if your child is struggling to let you know about their fears and anxieties, get them to draw, paint or create doodles to explain.

2. “Let’s put your worry on the shelf while we ____ (e.g. listen to your favourite song, read your favourite book). Then we’ll pick it back up again.”

Children who are prone to anxiety often feel as though they have to carry the weight of their worries with them until it all tides through. This is especially challenging when they are anxious about something they cannot change in the future. Distracting them with their favourite activity helps to put their worries into perspective and alleviates their fear.

3. “Let’s learn more about it.”

Help your children face their fears by learning more about it. You can do this by asking them questions and get them to walk you through their worries as best as they can. After all, knowledge paves way to better understanding and empowers them to rise above these obstacles.

4. “I get scared/nervous/anxious too sometimes. It’s no fun.”

Showing empathy towards your child helps to let them know that you understand how they feel about the situation at hand. What’s more, you can also take this opportunity to share with your child how you overcame your fears when faced with the same situation.

5. “Tell me the worst thing that could possibly happen.”

Once your child has imagined the worst possible outcome of their worry, move on to talk about the likelihood of that “worst possible situation” happening. Next, ask your child to imagine the best possible outcome. At the end of it all, ask him/her about the most likely outcome. As shared by Jain, the purpose of this exercise is to help your child think objectively when they are feeling anxious.


If your kids are huge fans of comics, letting them fill in the “thought bubble” does wonders to alleviate their anxiety. More on this and other calming phrases on the next page.