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Kiwi Kids Lacking in Basic Life Skills - Survey

Press release: 27 January 2017

Kiwi Kids Lacking in Basic Life Skills - Survey

Young Kiwi kids can use a cellphone or remote control but lack the basic life skills necessary for making their bed, breakfast or lunch, according to new research.

The results are concerning according to a leading psychologist who says these household tasks are important in teaching children resilience, independence and basic problem solving.

The Sanitarium Weet-Bix Better Brekkie survey showed that more than 44% of parents with children aged 5-15 years made their children’s breakfasts because they either; don't want the mess to clean up, are always in a hurry in the mornings, or simply haven’t taught them how to make their breakfast yet.

A further third (30%) of parents said they were concerned if they did not make their child’s breakfast the children would skip it or choose something unhealthy.

The survey found eight in ten (78%) children aged 5-7 years could operate a cell phone and a further nine in ten (89%) have mastered a TV remote, but less than a third (29%) of this age group make their own lunch. Making breakfast and their beds was also more of a challenge than technology for around two thirds of young children.

Interestingly, 99% of the parent respondents agree that being able to make your own meals is an important life skill that we all need to be taught.

Kiwi parents were also keen to step in when their children had failed to manage other areas of their life, according to the research.

Almost six in 10 (58%) of parents with children aged between 5 and 15 years have dropped off sports gear, clothing, homework or other items that their child has forgotten to take with them.

Psychologist Sara Chatwin says there is a growing concern among her colleagues on our children’s ability to cope when things don’t go their way.

She says this was recently identified in the popular parenting guide The Gift of Failure, by Jessica Lahey, in it says Chatwin, Lahey outlines the significance of common household tasks and why they are essential to children’s development.

Chatwin, a mother of four, says as a parent there is a temptation to step in and problem solve for children because we are often time poor, especially in the mornings, when a great deal of the household tasks are conducted.

“Children these days are so invested in social media and the advances in technology, they’ve forgotten how to do the simple things. Similarly parents have forgotten to teach them! By allowing children to take part and get involved with the simple things like cooking, do some chores and preparing small meals, you’re ensuring that your children have some of the basic skills. It’s all very well taking over (as a parent) to get the job done quickly and well, but this detracts from children’s simple skill knowledge and learning.

“We need to be careful we are helping to grow well-rounded children - not dependants”

She says by allowing and encouraging our kids to do these simple tasks, we enable them to get active and take part; “to be contributors instead of mindless consumers with the attitude that ‘someone else’ will be there to pick up the pieces!”

Chatwin says common household tasks are easy to implement and show kids that everyone in the family can chip in to achieve a common goal.

“I’m a firm believer that children need to have a competency in the simple tasks to understand the dynamics of harder tasks.

"Just because the world has become more social media savvy and seemingly complicated that does not mean that parents have to blindly accept these advances and changes to the detriment of making beds, stacking dishwashers and being capable of making a meal for oneself! There are still so many contexts and situations that require people to know about the simple things in life and to know how,” she says.

The survey also showed that less than half (49%) of children usually have a nutritious breakfast seven days a week. Only a third of children aged 13 to 15 years ate a nutritious breakfast every day.

While the majority of children have breakfast at home seven days a week, a sixth (16%) of those aged 5-7 years eat away from home at least once a week. The likelihood of eating breakfast at home decreased with age, with more than half (52%) of those aged 13-15 years eating breakfast away from home at least once a week.

The survey also found that half of 13 to 15-year-olds and seven per cent of those aged 5-7 years skip breakfast once a week.

The research was carried out by Sanitarium in conjunction with the company’s Better Brekkie programme and was designed to investigate Kiwi attitudes to breakfast, according to the company’s spokesperson Jessica Manihera.

“I know in my own household that it's always a bit of a rush in the morning, but I also know it's important to prioritise a good breakfast for the kids as it sets them up for the day. I’m also mindful of how important it is for us as parents to encourage our children to make their own breakfasts and create good habits around food which will last them a lifetime,” says Manihera.


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