With teenagers typically thinking about hanging out with friends and having a good time, developing their life skills is probably the last thing on their mind. However, having a good set of life skills is hugely important when it comes to living a successful, healthy life as well as being able to face challenges in adulthood. With skills such as how to use public transport, cooking and managing money not always taught in school, it’s up to parents to take the time to help develop these essential skills. Here’s some of the benefits to building up these skills with your teens sooner rather than later, as well as some key areas that you can start teaching them too.
Why Is Teaching My Teen Life Skills So Important?
Learning life skills doesn’t just build independence, it also builds social-emotional learning skills that teens need such as self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, and the tools to create and maintain relationships. It also has many other added benefits they can experience as a teenager and as an adult. Here’s a few to consider.
- The ability to find new ways of thinking and problem solving.
- Starting to recognise the impact of their actions, which also teaches teens to take responsibility for what they do rather than blame others.
- Build up confidence with their speaking skills, which also makes group work and communication much easier.
- The ability to take the time to analyse the options available to them, make decisions and understand why they make certain choices.
- Developing a greater sense of self-awareness and appreciation for others.
- Building up agility and adaptability to different situations and environments.
What Are Some Of The Key Life Skills I Can Teach My Teen?
Cooking Basic, Nutritious Meals
One of the most important life skills you can start to nurture at home is how to cook basic meals and eat a balanced, nutrient dense diet. Any teen can cook a microwave meal, but learning how to make real food will not only give your teenager independence, it but will be beneficial when they eventually head to university or move out. Start with simple things like making healthy breakfasts and lunches as well as getting them to assist you with cooking dinner or baking. You could even ask them to take responsibility when it comes to cooking family dinner one night each week (with supervision), to really get them practicing in the kitchen.
Money Management Skills
Managing money is an extremely important life lesson for teens to get to grips with sooner rather than later, especially as you don’t want them to get into any trouble with money when they leave home. As well as providing teens with an allowance they’re able to manage themselves, we also recommend taking the time to sit down with them to show them how you handle your own household income, spending and savings, as well as things you sometimes have to sacrifice to stay in budget. It’s also a good idea to make sure your teens are aware of the dangers of credit card debt, loans and the importance of saving and investing. Having these open and honest conversations about money, as well as showing how you try to make good decisions is one of the best ways for your teens to develop good habits and learn to be smart with their own spending.
How To Cope With Failure
It’s inevitable that your teen is going to fail at some point in the future. The important thing is they know is how to get back up and try again, rather than letting failure impact their self-confidence or positive attitude. Start at home by actively trying to praise your teens effort rather than the achievement itself - this can be with their grades or a team sport result. We also recommend talking openly about the failures they experience in their everyday life and share your own experiences about ways to deal with it. The more practice your teen has at failure, the easier it is for them to learn to try again, stay flexible or try something different.
How To Get Around And Use Public Transport
Teaching your teenagers basic navigation and how to use public transport wherever they are is a crucial life skill that will give them a great sense of independence. Start by taking a look at your local bus and train schedules and stops and how to follow the maps provided. Show them how to read a public transport timetable and point them in a direction of which apps work well for navigating around big cities. You could even try out practice scenarios where you ask your teen the quickest or cheapest way to travel to a specific place.
Maintaining A Household
Maintaining a household isn’t easy and definitely isn’t taught at school anymore. We recommend running through the weekly tasks that need doing in your household. This includes cleaning the house, laundry, changing bedding, making sure the rubbish is ready for collection and recycling. Get them to start helping you out with these tasks and even give them their own errands such as doing their own laundry each week or changing their own bed. Growing these responsibilities might be a tough ask with moody teenagers, but they will be thankful one day!
Other Life Skills
There are plenty more life skills that you can take the time to teach your teen at home. Here are some of the other areas to look into further with them:
- Managing time independently
- Writing a professional email
- Looking after their health and personal hygiene
- Asking for help
- Doing grocery shopping
- Staying organised
- Talking on the phone
- How to find a job
- Staying motivated
- Standing up for themselves
- Driving safely
- Dealing with an emergency
- Setting goals and pushing themselves
For even more information on a practical approach to teaching your teens life skills, check out this useful guide here.