As our kids grow, they have a lot to learn. Parents want what’s best for their kids and work to keep them fed, active, and educated. Sure, there are some stumbling blocks along the way, and not every family is ideal. But good parents try to do the best for their kids, even if they aren’t always sure what ‘best’ should look like.

There is no foolproof guide to parenting. You’ll hear a lot of people preaching their approach as though it’s gospel, but kids are just as individual as adults, and they need an individual approach. However your kid learns best, there are some major ways you can help them prepare for independence and adulthood that will give them a head start to success.

Help Them Understand Finances

Did you know that a lot of teens reach college or even graduate without knowing how to do their own taxes? While math isn’t everyone’s strong suit, you can give your kid a leg up by helping them understand some of the concepts around finances— and helping them learn to read the fine print in contracts. Even if helping them learn is introducing them to solid software or setting them up with a tax consultant.

You also want to work with them to get savings going. Some parents start saving when they first imagine having kids, but not everyone is in that good of a financial situation— that’s ok! You can still help your kid learn to budget, and once they get their first job you can help them set up a Roth IRA to build up over time. You can also help them start to build up credit by taking out a credit building credit card. These cards are specially designed so that you cannot have a limit higher than what’s in your security fund, but they help teach you good habits while reporting to credit bureaus.

Including your kids in budgeting early on can help. Instead of having to argue in the store, sit down ahead of time and have an object lesson using something like Legos. Let them help make decisions on what you can control, like the type of pasta sauce or whether to do brown or white rice this week. Little things in the long run, but the budget lessons have a lasting impact and help your child appreciate money. If they decide to attend college, they may be able to take out fewer loans or at least fully appreciate what they’re signing up for.

Emphasise Hygiene and Home Skills

While you don’t want to make your kids do everything around the house, you should start teaching them how to do tasks and expand their responsibilities as they grow. Some households have a ‘pick your task’ system, but a rotation leads to more rounded adults. Knowing how to do laundry is just as important as how to do the dishes and so on. Most schools have dropped practical classes like home economics as they strain to teach so many kids and pay their teachers, so some kids are getting to adulthood without understanding how to separate trash and recycling— or how to cook. Being able to care for yourself and your residence is essential to a happy, healthy adulthood. Help your kids learn to make their favorite desserts and expand to suppers. Make it a bonding experience for you.

Hygiene is another biggie. A lot of kids go through their rebellious phases, and that’s ok, but they need to understand the importance of proper hygiene when they reach adulthood. For one, it will directly affect their job prospects and their relationships. It can also really affect their health.

Compromise on Extra Curricular and Career Choices

A lot of parents want to see their child be a star. Unfortunately, some try to pressure kids into sports or activities that they absolutely despise. Or they try to relive their glory years through their kids, forcing them into activities and not letting them enjoy their childhood. Work with your kid to figure out what extracurriculars they want to try, including art, music, or theater.

A lot of parents have found success with an agreement where the kid can pick an activity, but they have to commit to the full period— whether it’s the full sports season or a full semester. This lets kids experiment with different activities to find what they love while also teaching them the solid lessons of teamwork, commitment, and so on. It’s also safer, as over-pressuring a kid in sports can lead to them injuring themselves.

In the same vein, not every kid will grow up to go to college— and that’s ok! There are plenty of paths available to adults without a degree. Be sure your kids learn about trade skills and the service industry, so they can pick the path that’s best for them. Some people excel in retail and food; there’s nothing shameful about these jobs, despite the dedicated push for the past few decades to send everyone to higher education.

Teach Them About All Kinds of Health

Being healthy is about more than physical well-being. It’s also healthy emotional regulation, caring for mental health, and having a healthy sex life. Now, it’s true, most kids don’t what to have mental health or sex conversations with their parents. If you can, find a way they can learn without being embarrassed. If it’s within your means, let them have a therapist who can teach them healthy coping skills and mental health awareness.

Sex ed can be a little more difficult, as a lot of schools have started restricting what and when a teacher can, well, teach. Schools are in a difficult position of wanting to prepare kids for independence and being safe while also respecting different beliefs and approaches. Unfortunately, we haven’t hit that perfect balance yet, and your kids will need some extra information.

It’s up to you to decide when you think it’s appropriate for your kid to learn, but comprehensive sex ed is essential. You want them to understand the importance of healthy relationships, birth control, and avoiding infection. About the normalcy of exploring their gender and sexuality and safe ways to do so. If you have a daughter, she needs to be aware of what to expect during menstrual cycles so she knows if something is wrong and can go see a doctor. If you have a son, help him understand menstrual cycles so he can better support the women in his life.

Every Child is Different

Remember that kids are humans, too. From infants to high school seniors, your kids are just figuring out this whole ‘life’ thing. When we’re kids, all the bad things are the worst that has ever happened to us– because it is our first time experiencing them! As teenagers, we’re exploring the idea of independence and figuring out who we are. Always support your child and do your best to guide them. And by taking the above topics seriously, you can give them a headstart with self-discovery and practical skills to prepare them for adulthood.