It’s our job to prepare our kids before they head off into the real world. Which is why we have collated seven life skills for teenagers that you need to instil in them before they leave home. The earlier you start working on these life lessons, the better prepared for the world of uni, work or travelling they will be.
Life skills for teenagers
1. Sleep is the most important thing
Everything begins with sleep – your ability to concentrate, perform tasks, think rationally, your mood and your overall health and wellbeing. So it’s important you teach your children to get a good night’s sleep in what will be a strange place for a while until they get used to their new surroundings.
Provide them with them some familiar home comforts, such as duvet covers, pyjamas they feel comfortable with and books and music to help ease their night-time worries. Teach them how to create a nice, peaceful atmosphere, so their new room can start to feel like home. This will help them sleep better.
Morning and night time routines are important, although they will of course try to burn the candle at both ends. Speaking of which…
2. Encourage them to adopt an active social life
If your teenager is moving away from their home town, you should encourage them to make new friends. For those going to university, there are plenty of opportunities to meet a new social group at organised events. For teens heading off to work somewhere else it is not as easy. But they could use their new colleagues as a starting point.
Life is much easier when you have people nearby to support you. So encourage this as one of the most essential life skill for teenagers.
3. Guide them on their diet and alcohol intake
Of course, it is a parent’s place to warn of the dangers of overdoing the booze. They might not appear to listen, but it is important to at least make them aware of a healthy attitude towards alcohol.
And you can certainly influence good habits for food and drink. Show them recipes that are cheap and easy to make before they leave home so that they can fend for themselves in a nutritious manner when they fly the nest.
4. Show them the importance of getting to grips with chores
It’s not just cooking they’ll need to get a handle on – all those domestic chores they may not have taken any interest in while living at home will also need tackling. Some parents will have always had chores for their young people others will not.
They’re going to be responsible for all their belongings when they leave home. This includes washing, drying, putting everything away and getting work materials or books ready. Set them weekly challenges with a reward for doing it, before they go, such as some money for a night out with friends, that new book/bag they want, or tickets for something they want to see.
5. Stress the importance of self-care and safe sex
As life skills for teenagers go, this is vital. Good personal hygiene is important for maintaining both physical and mental wellbeing. They also need to understand the importance of safe sex for maintaining their health. Don’t be afraid to have a good, long chat about sex, pregnancy and STIs. It might seem a bit awkward, but open conversation is incredibly powerful for developing healthy attitudes towards sex.
Ask, don’t tell – ask what they know, what safe sex involves, and where they can go for information and help.
6. Teach them the difference between budgeting, spending and saving
Money management and budgeting is another really important life skill to learn. Whether they’re receiving a student loan or first pay packet, for many young people this will be the first time they’ve received thousands of pounds.
This money has to last for a long time, be it a semester or until their next pay packet, so knowing how long they have to make the money last will be a really good starting place. They should also make a note of all of their committed expenditure, such as rent, food, electricity and other costs including mobile phone bills/Wi-Fi or travel costs.
Your teenager may well discover they have less disposable money than they think, and students may come to realise they need a part-time job to support their studies. The sooner they know their financial position, the less pressure this will put on them later.
7. School them on behaving responsibly and on equality and fairness
It’s essential they’re aware of the professional setting they’re entering at university, starting with showing up on time for classes and social meetings, being attentive and an active participant by focussing on whatever activity they’re taking part in.
Being open-minded and non-judgmental to others and to different points of view, respecting different beliefs, ways of life, sexual orientations and genders, and treating others with respect are all important skills we should not forget either.