As a parent, your job is to take care of your children until the day arrives when they can strike out on their own. While they graduate from high school knowing how to read and write, other skills are just as critical that may not get covered in the classroom.
Before your teen leaves home, ensure they’re ready to live independently while making a positive impact on the world. Take a moment to run down this checklist of essential life skills your teen will need to learn before living on their own.
Practical Life Skills:
1. Manage time. Be a positive role model for establishing priorities and dealing with distractions. Show your teen how to use a calendar and work towards meeting a deadline.
2. Study efficiently. While your teen may not be enrolled in geometry classes much longer, they will continue to benefit from knowing how to learn. Encourage your child to embrace reading. Demonstrate how to recognize key concepts and design self-tests on any material.
3. 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 such as managing their allowance.
4. Eat well. Healthy eating habits start early too. Bring your teen along for grocery shopping and invite him/her to join you in preparing dinner. Stress the importance of eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods. Teach your child essential basic cooking techniques.
5. Clean up. Kids who grow up doing chores are more likely to take care of their first apartment and personal possessions. Take the time to teach your kids how to vacuum, dust, and do their laundry.
6. Stay safe. Talk with your teen about protecting themselves online and off. Provide common-sense warnings and share your own experiences.
7. Handle emergencies. Does your teen know what to do if they have a fender bender or there’s a severe storm in the forecast? Review how to respond to common emergencies.
Social and Psychological Life Skills:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Act mindfully. Mobile devices are shortening the average attention span. If you want your teen to understand the power of mindfulness, you’ll need to teach by example. Give them your full attention when they’re talking, and turn the TV off if possible.
4. Manage stress. Developing mindfulness will help protect your teen from depression and anxiety. They can also learn to relax by engaging in physical exercise and/or working on a hobby.
5. Master phone etiquette. Even if your teen spends much of their waking life on the phone, they may not communicate effectively. Train your kids to identify themselves and speak clearly. Rehearse scheduling appointments or calling a professor.
6. Talk face-to-face. Your teen may be more comfortable on social media than having a conversation in person. Hold regular family meals where they can practice having real-time conversations. Make it a family rule that no devices are allowed at the dinner table.
7. Cultivate relationships. Supportive relationships are vital to health and wellbeing. Coach your teen on how to make friends and network.
8. 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 on their own when the time is right.