Self-Reliance Skills I Teach My Children—and Why

By Lea Ann Lunsford
19 May 2021

Read about this mom’s experiences with teaching self-reliance skills to her children.

As with most families, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of life in our home. Even before the pandemic, we worked as a family to be prepared for anything that comes our way, which has helped us have peace during this time of upheaval.

My husband and I look for opportunities to teach our children these same self-reliance skills, and we have seen them find confidence in these skills too. We work on self-reliance in five areas: emotional, mental, social, physical, and spiritual.


We talk to our children about being happy with what they have and teach them to be flexible. Sometimes things change and they have to learn to adapt. During the pandemic I took my children to the playground only to find it closed. I talked to them about adapting, and together we used our creativity to find a different activity.


We try to include our children whenever we are doing basic maintenance so that they can learn: changing light bulbs, changing air filters, mowing the lawn, and so on. Recently we bought our older children desks and chairs for virtual school, and they assembled them all by themselves. It took them a while, but they did it, and this gave them a sense of accomplishment. They enjoy feeling independent and being able to do things by themselves.


One way we work on social self-reliance is by helping our children learn to get along with each other. Last year our older son set a goal to take his younger sister on a sister-brother date once a month to try to improve his relationship with her. It helped them grow closer.

During the pandemic we have had to be creative in strengthening our children’s social skills. We play board games as a family, our daughter writes to an old-fashioned snail-mail pen pal, and our teenagers use technology to keep in touch with friends.


Physically, we prepare our children by encouraging them to get some form of exercise every day. We teach them healthy eating habits, and we include them in our food storage planning discussions. Our older two boys have learned basic first aid, and we teach all our children appropriate personal hygiene skills for their age.


One of our highest priorities is helping our children be spiritually prepared. I love this quote from President Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society General President: “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life” (“And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit,” April 2010 general conference).

I believe President Beck is right, and I think of this quote as I try to prepare my children spiritually. We read the scriptures together each morning before school, we attend our Church meetings (virtually or in person), and at the beginning of the school year we review the For the Strength of Youth booklet. I tell my children about spiritual experiences I have so that they can see the gospel in action in our lives.

Having Faith over Fear

I felt some fear and anxiety at the beginning of the pandemic, but because I was spiritually prepared and asked for help and guidance from God, I found peace and assurance that it would all be OK. Being emotionally and socially prepared has helped us to handle the social distancing we have experienced. I do not think the pandemic has been easy for anyone, but I believe being diligent and intentional in our preparations will help us, come what may.