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How can children learn life skills?

Building Self-esteem in Kids
When I was in school, my father bought a Hermes Baby typewriter. He used it for some of his personal work. After he finished work, he would keep it in the Godrej cupboard. I never paid much attention to it and was often engrossed in my own stuff.

One day when he finished typing and was keeping the typewriter back into the Godrej, he noticed that I was standing next to the cupboard. He looked at me and said “Don’t you dare touch that typewriter!” in a kind of menacing way.

Till that day that thought had not crossed my mind.

After that incident, I used to play with the typewriter at every single opportunity, whenever he was not at home. On my own I figured out how to type. I knew nothing about the QWERTY key board etc. I learnt what I call ‘one finger typing’. I look at the key board when I type (professionals or those who learnt typing formally, don’t do that).

Years later my father told me why he forbade me from using the typewriter. “If I asked you to learn typing or go to a typewriting class, you would not have done that. But I knew instinctively that you will try it, if I told you not to!”

Well, I am glad he tricked me into it.

He helped me learn many things by asking me to do new things. One day he asked me to deposit a cheque in the bank. Before I could ask how to do it, he left for work. I was stuck with the cheque. So I went to the bank, and looked quite lost. The bank manager saw me and asked me if I needed help. I sure did. He showed me how to fill in a pay-in-slip and deposit a cheque. But I did not have my father’s account number. I went home and told my mother. She gave me my father’s passbook. I went back to the bank and completed the job.

During dinner he asked me if I deposited the cheque. I said I did and narrated what happened. He was pleased.

“So what did you learn today?”

“How to deposit a cheque in the bank.”

“What else did you learn?”

“Nothing else.”

He pushed me to think some more and we went over the sequence of my actions. Finally he proved to me that I had also learnt: 1) How to commit to do something and then not give up; 2) How to ask for help at the right time


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Sridhar Ramanathan is the Founder of IDEASRS, where he is also a Strategic Innovation Coach. Sridhar’s mission in life is “to help those who want to do things better and differently”. His work involves conducting creative problem solving workshops for clients, and buidling competencies in creativity and innovation. He also blogs at www.ideasrs.com.

6 thoughts on “How can children learn life skills?

  1. Kritika Srinivasan

    Nice one Sridhar – as usual! I really like the way you use personal experiences to teach a lesson and to help us realise something important about parenting. I am picking up a lot of useful tips from your posts. It will interest you to know that the Cover Story of our next issue is on Life Skills that children should learn – do read it and let us know what you think!

  2. Sudha Kumar

    As always such a lucid post Sridhar- so much one can do day to day to bring up our kids well and your posts continue to show how easy it is, if only we tried!


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