Raising independent kids: What can 11- and 12-year-olds do?

What can 11- and 12-year-olds do? This is an important time to train them in life skills that they need to learn. They are still very interested and pretty cooperative at this age so it’s time to take advantage of that and teach them a lot.

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  • What can 11- and 12-year-olds do? This is an important time to train them in life skills that they need to learn. They are still very interested and pretty cooperative at this age so it’s time to take advantage of that and teach them a lot. They are capable and very aware of adult life skills they see others doing. Just like the young elephant watching his parent, your children are watching you. Take the time to train them and prepare them for being adults.



  • Wardrobe shopping and planning

  • At this age, we gave our kids a clothing allowance for the year and then taught them about quality, sales, clearance, fit, and fashion. They absolutely love this and it teaches them great adult skills. Teach them how to pick flattering colors and styles, mixing and matching to get good benefit. Teach them to straighten their closets and drawers, iron their own clothes, and sew their own hems — yup, even the boys.

  • Keeping their own calendar and appointments

  • Have them keep their own calendar with appointments, school activities, family activities, etc. Teach them to use it to make and keep goals as well. Google Calendar is available online and a great tool. Doctor and dentist appointments? Have them make the call. Teach them how to keep up with these important adult appointments regularly.

  • Learning safe Internet use

  • Teach 11- and 12-year-old kids to order products online — and by phone and mail — so they can learn about reading reviews, shipping costs, taxes, etc. Have ongoing discussions about safe use, making their only computer access is in a public room of the house, that it’s password protected so they can’t be online when you’re not home, and that there is a filtering program in place to protect them. Once you’ve made sure their internet use is as safe as possible, letting them shop and review and buy online can fulfill some of that online itch, and keep them away from more dangerous web pursuits.

  • Car maintenance

  • Have them check all the fluid levels, tire rotation, etc. Better yet, have your mechanic friend teach them all about it! Then put them in charge of monitoring the family car.

  • Current events

  • Have them read up on current events either online or with a newspaper. Discuss this with them at dinner each day. They’ll love adult topics! And respect their opinions — they’re learning!

  • Babysitting

  • After they are trained by you or by taking a class, have them babysit siblings or children in the neighborhood. They will learn wonderful skills in this activity. Girls AND boys will benefit from you training them as they work.

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  • Weight control habits

  • This is a crucial time for children to learn to eat nutritiously and to avoid eating disorders. Talk about this openly!

  • Clean refrigerator

  • Teach them carefully and then praise their success. Clean cupboards – Using safe cleaning products, teach them how to do this one by one. Then have them do one a week to practice until your kitchen is gleaming.

  • Make several main dishes and desserts

  • This is a great year to teach them cooking and have them start cooking dinner for the family. Let them be creative and make their own recipe file. They can even bake pies. Have fun! You can have a grandma, aunt, or friend teach this.

  • Lawn and garden care

  • Boys and girls alike are old enough to mow the lawn and learn to care for the plants in the yard. Take them to the local nursery to learn more. Then they can use this skill to earn money.

  • Use a camera

  • Have your photographer friend teach them how.

  • Learn to crochet or knit

  • Boys and girls alike enjoy learning a homemaking skill like this. If you don’t know how, find a friend to teach or find videos online to get them started. They’ll love it!

  • At 11 and 12, kids are terrific to train. They will really enjoy learning these adult life skills. Encourage their maturing opinions and their adult habits. That way they can practice at home safely for several years before going out on their own. It will take some of your time, but will be worth the investment.

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Merrilee Boyack is a mom of four sons, grandma to two and an attorney, author, and professional speaker.  

Website: http://www.MerrileeBoyack.com

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