TIP of the WEEK: Teaching Vocational Skills

The framework for building vocational skills starts at a very early age. The less you do for your child early on the more independent and adaptable they will be later in life when it is time to begin working. Children who are accustomed to pushing their limits, problem solving and taking accountability will be far more successful in the workforce than those who are used to having things done for them or being allowed to blame others for their actions. Many skills needed to be a great employee can be taught early on:

  • 1. Teach responsibility. Be sure that your child has chores that others rely on to be done. Simple chores can start as early as three or four years old. Increase complexity as the child grows.
  • 2. Never blame other people if your child displays negative behavior, at least not in front of your child. Children with PWS have so much to contend with and sometimes the anxiety and over stimulation is simply too much and a melt down or other behavior is inevitable. Mistakes will be made by other people involved in your child’s life. This is unavoidable. Regardless of the situation always convey the message to your child that acting in an inappropriate way is never okay and their actions are always their choice. Allowing your child to blame their actions on another persons mistake is a set up for extremely difficult teenage and adult years. Even if you know that the situation could have been avoided the message to your child needs to be clear and consistent.
  • 3. Do not avoid using the word no. Many families report to us upon intake that their child reacts strongly to the word no so they avoid using it at all costs. This is fine for a residential setting. We are used to skirting this word but it is unrealistic in the community, especially at a work setting. Employers are not going to be sensitive to this and employment will be short lived if a behavior occurs every time your child is asked not to do something.
  • 4. Many kids with PWS do not have strong math skills and for the most part this will not get in their way. However, money skills are an important skill to have. Teaching the value of money will serve them well even if they will not be able to handle money independently.

It is so tempting to keep our kids in a bubble because we want them to be safe and protected and let’s face it, we want to keep our sanity but pushing them, challenging their limits and taking risks will serve them for a lifetime.

Patrice Carroll
Manager PWS Services

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