As parents, there are valuable life skills that we need to be teaching our teenagers. Our schools are setting the foundation for basic reading, math, and writing; but there are other skills that are equally important. With the cut of Home Economic classes and our busy schedules at home, our kids are going out into the world without some of the basic skills they need.
Before your teen leaves home, let’s ensure that they are ready to deal with life on their own and to continue having a positive impact on the world.
Take a moment to run down this checklist of valuable life skills your teen will need:
Practical Life Skills
- Manage time. Be a positive role model for establishing priorities and dealing with distractions. Show your teen how to use a calendar and work backwards from a deadline.
- Study efficiently. While your teen won’t be taking geometry classes much longer, they will continue to benefit from knowing how to learn. Encourage them to love reading. Demonstrate how to recognize key concepts and design their own self-tests on any material.
- Stick to a budget.The choices your teen makes today will help to determine how much debt they accumulate during college and what their options will be when they graduate. Give them a head start on developing financial responsibility by assigning them tasks like managing their allowance or money earned from a part-time job.
- Eat well. Healthy eating habits should start early. Bring your teen along for grocery shopping and invite them to join you in preparing dinner. Stress the importance of eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods.
- Clean up. Kids who grow up doing chores will be more likely to take care of their first apartment and personal possessions. Teach them how to vacuum, dust, wash dishes, and do their own laundry.
- Stay safe. Talk with your teen about protecting themselves online and off. Provide common-sense warnings and share your own experiences. I don’t recommend using a scare tactic; but be open and honest.
- Handle emergencies. Does your teen know what to do if they have a fender bender or if there’s a severe storm in the forecast? Rehearse how to respond to common emergencies.
Social and Psychological Life Skills
- Clarify core values. The values your teen chooses will guide their behavior. Point them in a promising direction by ensuring they can articulate their beliefs and put them into action.
- Give generously. Your teen is more likely to succeed if they help others to do the same. Encourage them to share their resources and volunteer their services.
- Act mindfully. Mobile devices seem to be shortening the average attention span. If you want your teen to understand the power of mindfulness, you’ll need to teach by example. Put down your cell phone and give them your full attention.
- Deal with stress. Developing mindfulness will help protect your teen from depression and anxiety. They can also learn to relax by engaging in physical exercise and working on a hobby.
- Master phone etiquette. Even if your teen spends much of their waking life on the phone, they may not communicate effectively. Train them to identify themselves and speak clearly. Rehearse scheduling appointments or calling a professional.
- Talk face-to-face. Your teen may be more comfortable on social media than having a conversation in person. We use our dinner table as our source for developing these skills. We don’t allow cell phones and openly talk about all subjects.
- Cultivate relationships. Supportive relationships are vital to health and well-being. Coach your teen on how to make friends and network. Encourage healthy relationships that will build your child — not tear them down!
- Be assertive. Help your child to develop healthy self-esteem and advocate for themselves. Knowing how to share their wants and needs will bring them closer to fulfilling their goals.
You can ease your teen’s transition into adulthood. Protect your children when they’re young, and then gradually give them more responsibility so they can acquire the skills they need to live independently.