16 life skills your teenagers need!
Worried if your teenager will be ready for an independent life when he or she moves out? Here is the ultimate checklist of life skills your teen needs before leaving home!
This sounds like a remedial class for high schoolers who frequently get in trouble or can’t manage to pass their normal classes.
As a former teacher, I’ve seen many parents (and students) who anxiously fret over GPA – a few almost to the point of having anxiety attacks for low grades.
While success in school can be helpful, having a well-rounded education (including life skills) is more important to ensure your child’s future success and happiness.
For example, studies show that Emotional Intelligence predicts future success in life. This isn’t something that can be measured in school with grades or GPA, and I’ve never seen it discussed or taught in class.
Other life skills are also very important for your teens to have before setting out on their own.
Please don’t think that you should start teaching things from this list when your child is 15 or 16. All of these topics should be introduced in an appropriate way when your child is very young (even as a toddler) and continually (even daily) revisited as your child grows.
Remember so much of what your children learn from you are life skills!
You teach your child life skills through all of the little things that you do (and model) every day even if you are not formally “teaching”.
Children learn by watching, listening, observing…
Start young and use normal, everyday activities to teach and reinforce all of these things. Talk about prices when shopping, measuring when cooking dinner, how to take care of a scrape…
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The Ultimate List of Life Skills your Teen Needs before Leaving Home:
1. How to properly manage money
Managing money is a very important skill.
After all, we all need money to survive in this world. You don’t want your teen to become a reckless spender or be so disorganized with money that she doesn’t know how much money she does have.
Start young and teach basic money skills and keep actively teaching – even into the late teen years.
Teach your teens:
- How to make and keep a budget.
- How to open a bank account, withdraw, and transfer money.
- All about credit cards and debt.
- How to keep financial records.
- How to set up an emergency fund and save money (for retirement, a house, a car, and other big purchases). (And why they need to!)
- How and why to give to charity.
- How and when to bargain.
- How to teach budgeting to teens
- Important money lessons for teens
- How to teach young children about money
Some recommended books:
2. Basic cooking skills
Your teen should know:
- How to read (and convert measurements within) a recipe.
- How to cook basic, healthy foods for each meal (not out of a box) with simple ingredients.
- the basics of buying groceries – which ingredients, where to buy them, and how to save money.
- How to use kitchen appliances and utensils.
- the best way to store food.
- how to read labels and understand nutrition and ingredients.
- Although this is not a cooking skill, your teenager should be exposed to different flavors and foods from different cultures. If you can’t cook anything exotic, invite friends over who can or try out ethnic restaurants.
Some recommended books:
My girls absolutely love this one! haha
Related: Easy meal planning tips
3. Time Management
We all know someone who struggles with managing time:
- always late
- not finishing projects
- forgetting appointments
Helping your teen learn how to manage her time properly will give great benefits in the long run for her entire life.
Related: Time management for families
4. Social Skills/Etiquette
How to talk to strangers
These skills are especially important in today’s multi-cultural world.
Your kids will be meeting people from many different places, backgrounds, and cultures. They need to have good social skills in order to communicate, work, and live in communities with other people.
Your teenager should know:
- How to make and keep friends and have meaningful personal relationships.
- How to have a healthy family life.
- How to respect and understand people from different backgrounds, cultures, races, etc.
5. Organizational Skills
The chronically disorganized person can really struggle – not only to keep up with
- Simple organization for each area of the house.
- Have a place for everything.
- How to avoid having too many things – how to declutter.
6. How to advocate for themselves (and others)
This is part of having good social skills. If your teen is able to talk confidently and politely to others, then she should also learn how to advocate for herself when necessary. You should start teaching these skills at a very young age and reinforce them consistently as your kids get older.
7. How to (effectively and healthily) deal with stress
One thing that is unavoidable in everyone’s life is stress.
It comes in different sizes and packages but everyone has some!
Your teenager needs to be able to deal with stress well – and you need to teach him how to do it. Keep in mind that everyone deals with stress differently so showing various (healthy) coping methods can be helpful.
Related: Simple Calm Down Tools for Kids
8. Job Search Skills
- How to write a resume & cover letter.
- Where to apply for jobs.
- How to prepare for an interview:
- how to answer interview questions (have a mock interview session to practice with them
- appropriate clothes to wear to an interview
- questions they should ask during an interview
A great way to help your teen with this is to have a
Related: Prepare your teen for a first job
9. Laundry Maintenance
Don’t send your teenager off to college without this one or he’ll be bringing loads to you on the weekend!
He should know:
- How to use washing machines and wash clothes by hand.
- How to deal with simple stains.
- Simple, basic mending and sewing of items (buttons, tears, etc.)
- How to read and understand fabric labels and types of fabrics.
- How to iron (or how to select clothes that don’t need ironing!)
Related: Easy laundry routine tips!
10. Personal Care/Hygiene
Personal care (health, hygiene, grooming, how to dress) – Your teenager should know how to keep her body healthy and basic grooming.
You want her to live a long, healthy life and have pleasant interactions with other people, right?
- Basic healthy habits – brushing teeth and showering.
- Take care of hair and skin.
- How to dress for the occasion.
11. Basic First Aid
This includes things like:
- How to take care of yourself – with proper diet and especially during illness (cold, flu, fever, etc.)
- Knowing when to get medical attention and how to handle a medical emergency (call 911 or another appropriate emergency number).
- Health insurance.
- How to handle a cut, clean a wound & use bandages.
- How to stop heavy bleeding.
- Basic CPR.
- How and when to use abdominal thrusts.
12 How to take care of belongings
When you take proper care of items (clean, maintain, and store them well), they can last longer, work better, and save you money (because you don’t have to continually purchase new ones!).
13. House Maintenance
Proper house maintenance is the best way to save money. Your teen should understand everything that is involved in being a homeowner, including:
- Cost (taxes, repairs, upkeep, etc.)
- Basic repair work (Where is the emergency water shut-off valve?)
- How and where to hire outside help when needed
- Basic lawn care
14. Car Maintenance and Safety
Your teenager should know how to:
- change a flat tire.
- change (and check!) the oil.
- check tire pressure.
- check fluid levels.
- replace windshield wipers.
- jumpstart a dead battery.
- replace a headlight.
- find a good, reliable, honest mechanic.
15. Navigation skills (without using GPS!)
I once read an article where a teenager asked someone for directions and the person pointed out the place on a map and the teen was dumbfounded (because his phone had died and his GPS was gone) and he couldn’t figure out how to read the map! yikes!
When I was a teenager, our high school had a “backpacking class” where the instructor taught us survival/outdoor skills and we went on several hiking/camping trips – where we actually backpacked several miles into the wilderness, set up camp and stayed a few nights. I learned a ton and had fun too!
If you live in the city, take some time to head out into the wilderness and camp or explore. Have your teen navigate using a map. If you don’t drive, check the bus schedule and plan a fun day using the bus to and from your
16. Setting (and following through with) goals
Successful people know how to set goals and work to achieve them. Teach your children how to set reasonable goals with appropriate steps to reach them and you will give them tools for a lifetime.
Raising kids is hard. We want our children to navigate life and be well-rounded, successful individuals. Start by teaching these life skills your teen needs to be successful. Keep in mind that it is better to start teaching these skills when your teenager is very young (even as a toddler) than to wait until he is 14 and try to frantically cram everything in. Life is a lesson – start right away and teach consistently and repeatedly. If you love this, please share! And I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Recap: 16 Life Skills Your Teen Needs to Know Before Leaving Home:
- How to Properly Manage Money.
- Basic Cooking Skills.
- Time Management Skills.
- Social Skills/Etiquette.
- Organizational Skills.
- How to Advocate for Themselves (and Others).
- How to Effectively (and Healthily) Deal with Stress.
- Job Search Skills.
- Laundry Maintenance.
- Personal Care/Hygiene.
- Basic First Aid.
- How to Take Care of Belongings.
- House Maintenance.
- Car Maintenance and Safety.
- Navigation Skills.
- Setting (and Following Through with) Goals.