Parents reveal the essential life skills they've found hardest to teach their young children

Lauren Clark
·4 min read
Helping kids learn how to tie their shoelaces has been most challenging, according to a new survey of mums and dads (Getty Images)
Helping kids learn how to tie their shoelaces has been most challenging, according to a new survey of mums and dads (Getty Images)

As children continue to stay home during the coronavirus lockdown, a new study has revealed the skills parents have found - or are finding - trickiest to pass on.

Tying shoelaces, whistling and using cutlery are the hardest things to teach kids, according to a new poll of 2,000 mums and dads.

Learning to ride a bike is the fourth most challenging activity to teach, followed by telling the time and buttoning up clothing.

Helping little ones learn to swim, brush their teeth, try different foods and successfully write their name rounded off the top ten.

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Commissioned by PACEY, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, the study also found 83% of parents take pride in helping their kids develop - despite the challenges.

Liz Bayram, PACEY chief executive, said: “Children would ordinarily be going back to childcare or school right now, but instead they are facing more time at home – they’re limited in the activities they can do so they’re likely to be bored or feeling frustrated.

“Helping children with all these important skills is not easy for parents – especially at the moment.

“To support parents, we are releasing a range of wonderful free resources created by childcarers and education experts.

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"We hope they will give parents ideas to keep children interested and inspired at this challenging time.

“For those children who will be starting school in September, the summer term is a crucial time for parents and childcarers to prepare children for school.

"Our website has lots of resources to help with this important transition.“

Other skills parents find tricky to teach include potty training, getting dressed, putting toys away and explaining the difference between left and right.

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Mastering the alphabet isn’t easy either – and neither is showing children how to count money or teaching them to cross the road safely.

Maths is also an area which comes with a host of challenges for parents – and, in particular, how to add up and count to 10 and 20 prove to be major tests.

Likewise, introducing kids to domestic chores isn’t always straightforward.

Getting their little ones to successfully put dirty clothes in the washing basket is a challenge for mums and dads up and down the country.

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Showing children how to set the table and how to wash dishes are no mean feat either – and neither is getting them to help with the cooking.

The PACEY study, carried out through OnePoll, found 78% of parents are amazed at just how quickly young children develop and learn new things.

Liz Bayram added: “There is so much pressure on parents right now.

"We want to reassure parents that every child is unique and will develop skills at different times.

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"Try not to compare children with their siblings or friends – some adults still struggle with things like whistling and riding a bike.

“Parents are going through such a lot at the moment and need to be kind to themselves - no one can be a full-time teacher, parent and worker all at once.

"Having fun with your children is the best way of helping them learn some great new skills while you are all home together.”

The 40 hardest things to teach kids...

1. Tying shoelaces

2. Whistling

3. Eating with cutlery

4. Riding a bike

5. How to tell the time

6. Buttoning a button

7. How to swim

8. Brushing their teeth

9. Trying different foods

10. Writing their name

11. Putting toys away

12. How to blow your nose

13. Tying up hair

14. Getting dressed

15. Washing hair

16. Making a bed

17. Putting dirty clothes in a laundry basket

18. Learning parents'/home phone number

19. Colouring inside the lines

20. Learning to tell your left from right

21. Sharing things with other children

22. How to count money

23. Zipping a zip

24. Using a potty / toilet

25. How to cross the road safely

26. Learning their home address

27. Adding numbers

28. Doing a forward roll

29. Counting to 20

30. Swinging on a park swing

31. Helping with cooking

32. How to wash dishes

33. How to load / unload dishwasher

34. Counting to 10

35. Hopping

36. Knowing the alphabet

37. Washing face

38. How to set the table

39. Washing hands

40. Riding a scooter