When we think of DIY projects, we often jump to visions of electrical outlets, miter saws and plumbing wrenches. But we forget that Doing-It-Yourself is about life skills and problem solving – the ability to live in a home and manage the little day-to-day things with confidence and ease. Do you remember who taught you to hammer a nail or plunge a toilet? Well, there is no APP for that! Despite modern automation, our kids need to know some basic home care. It is our job as parents to teach them to be self-reliant, so let’s roll up our sleeves and make some DIY-ers.
Here are some common teachable moments to empower your kids. Teach them something at every stage of development to create independent, safe, and capable young adults.
• Teach them home safety: respect for electrical outlets, stove, fireplace, etc.
• Teach them about 911 and when to call
• Let them help you put together that “assembly required” furniture item
• Let them wear safety glasses and be a part of the action, handing you tools
• Buy them their own set of kid’s tools (remember the Fischer-Price workbench from the 70’s)
• Ask them how they think things work or are put together (get them thinking outside the box)
• Let them play in the box, big appliance boxes – support imaginary play and problem solving
School Age Children
• Show them how to drive a nail – give them partially started nails on a board and let them at it!
• Show them how to drive a screw – explain Phillips head vs. slotted, and let them drive screws into scraps of drywall or soft piece of pine for practice
• Give them various pieces of PVC pipe and see what they can create with duct tape
• When you are making home repairs, tell them what and how you are doing it
• Teach them some basic cooking/kitchen safety: no metal in microwave, no plastic or paper in toaster oven, no stove use without supervision, safe ways to cut/prepare/store food
• Caution them about water and electricity hazards
• Teach teens the basics of painting, repairs, yard work, unclogging drains, car care, etc.
• When leaving tweens and teens home alone for the first time, teach them about home safety: where the water shut off valves are, what to do if they smell gas or fire, what to do if power fails
• Teach older teens to check for a tripped circuit breaker or internet modem and how to reset
• Teach them fire/carbon monoxide safety and evacuation plans – they are often watching younger siblings and being prepared will give them more confidence when crisis occurs
Lastly, be an example to your kids. Be a confident, capable homeowner who follows home safety guidelines, wears personal safety gear and asks for professional help when in over your head. If you teach them while they are young, you won’t have to look after your home and their home 20 years from now!