Childhood is a time of wonder and discovery. However, it can also be a time of overwhelm. As a father of three children I know the pressures that children go through with increasing demands on their time from school, extracurricular activities and parental expectations.
This does not take into account the many distractions that vie for their attention. At one time this was only television but with the advances in technology in the last few decades, this now includes the internet, social media, Netflix and video games. With all the pressures and distractions that children face, they often miss out on the most important things that should be part of their education.
Here are three things that children are usually not taught which should be a mandatory part of their education at home if not being taught in school:
1) Healthy eating habits: It should be no surprise to anybody that children are often victims of poor eating habits. There are many reasons for this including targeted marketing by fast food and processed food companies, easy access to all sorts of sugar-filled foods which are the worst things they can eat, their need for immediate gratification and inability to understand the greater implications of their food choices.
We are seeing the results of this, not only in our adult population, but also in our children who have increasing rates of obesity and chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus and heart disease. This is why it is more important for parents, teachers, educators and society as a whole to teach healthy eating habits at a young age. These habits should focus on plant-based foods, wild caught and grass fed animal protein and healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Unfortunately our children do not receive this necessary education.
2) Emotional intelligence: Early childhood is a very emotional time because of all the changes that children go through and all the influences in their lives including parents, teachers, peers, popular and social media. Bullying which was once limited only to physical confrontations is now more prevalent on social media. Children are bound to experience negative emotions such as fear, anger, sadness and sometimes despair.
Unfortunately, they are not taught how to handle such emotions because emotional intelligence is not a part of the education system. In additions, parents, who should be teaching this to their children, often have their own emotional issues which they have not dealt with and resolved. Emotional intelligence is absolutely crucial for a developing child to evolve into a happy, healthy, resilient and intelligent adolescent and adult.
3) Personal finance: This is an area that, not only do children not get educated in, but adults have little to no knowledge of as they graduate from university or college with loads of student loan and credit card debt. Most adults start off their post-education life in deep debt with no thoughts of saving or investing for their future. The reason for this is because they have not been taught the importance of personal finance and how to manage their money efficiently. In fact, a recent survey found that 78% of Americans were extremely concerned that they do not have enough money saved or invested for retirement.
Managing money effectively is a skill that needs to be taught from early childhood in order for it to become a habit. I have heard of some schools giving young children $100 in cash with their assignment being to double it in a certain amount of time. Imagine if projects like this became mandatory for all school children. We could raise our children with a greater ability to avoid debt, achieve financial stability and success and to potentially become wealthy.
The problem with educating our children in these areas is that, often, adults themselves do not have adequate knowledge in these areas. This, however, should not impede our children getting educated in these areas as they should not have to suffer the fate of previous generations.
Since I don’t see the education system taking on this role, it is imperative for us, as adults, to do whatever we can to ensure that our children are taught in this areas. This is a way to grow and evolve with your children for mutual benefit and to create a stronger bond with them. They will be better for it and will forever be grateful that you armed them with what they need to thrive and succeed in an increasingly complex world.
Nauman Naeem MD