Learning & Development

Essential life skills you must instil in your growing teen

Written by Dr. Mona Gujral
Published: October 16, 2022

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Dr.Mona Gujral is a certified parenting coach with a background in psychology. She is the author of the best selling book-'Raising a Mindful Parent', a speaker on Mindful Parenting, and comes with over 5 years of experience.

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As the child steps into their teens, both the parents and the kid share a collective dream of a child gearing to take on the world and carve a niche for themselves. But there are always certain apprehensions if they have done enough to train their teenager and make them ready for the world.

The parents stop at nothing to equip the teens with every skill needed to excel in their chosen professional field. However, there are some essential life skills for students that should be instilled in them to help them get adjusted to the new environment when they leave the security of their home.

These life skills for teens basically are about the socio-emotional development of teenagers and help them in being self-reliant and function well in the world. 

How to start teaching these essential life skills?

The parents should start instilling these skills in the children subtly from a young age so that as teenagers when they are ready to fly away from home, they are well prepared. 

Modelling and rewarding are two very effective ways that parents can use to instil these essential life skills in their teens and adolescents. 

Modelling: Just step back and think about the things you do now because you remember your parents doing them. Children mostly learn by observing their parents. So whatever life skills you wish to inculcate in your child, do it yourself. This way your teens and adolescents who are constantly watching you will imbibe these skills and remember to use them in times of need.

Rewarding: Every time your teen displays certain behaviour that you wish, reward them. This ensures that they are more likely to display this behaviour in the future. This helps them in forming habits soon.

What are these essential life skills for teens?

The essential life skills for teens fall under 6 basic categories representing the 6 basic quadrants in every human’s life.  Each of these categories has its own sub-categories too.

  1. Basic living skills
  2. Social skills
  3. Professional skills
  4. Financial skills
  5. Organising skills
  6. Emotional skills
  1. Basic living skills

This is the category of essential life skills for teens which makes them independent and self-reliant in everyday life.

  • Basic cooking skills

Cooking is one essential life skill for teens that should be learned by all without any gender bias. Cooking your own meal will not only be economical but also will be good for the overall health of the teens and help them be in shape. A bonus of cooking something they love is, that it will help them on the days they feel homesick.

  • Basic household skills

In the long run, it will be helpful if your child knows how to put together the groceries for their use. The best way to teach this is to take them along next time you go grocery shopping.

Being able to do their laundry is one skill that will help them be clean and organized. This simple and mundane skill teaches them a lot about self-management.

  • Basic driving skills

Knowing how to drive well and following the safety rules is a must as it gives them a certain sense of independence. But along with driving, taking care of the vehicle, knowing how to change a tire, and maintenance of the vehicle should be taught to the children.

  1. Social skills
  • Forming relationships

“A person is known by the company he keeps”, is one very famous quote and emphasizes the importance of having positive relations. Many teens don’t realize the impact of friendships on their future.

Parents can model healthy, productive relationships so that the children know what they look like and emulate.

  • Communication skills

Communicating effectively is a skill, the more teens are better at it, the better will be their future success. They need to know different forms of communication verbal & non-verbal, professional & personal.

Listening well is an important part of communication, which focuses on the non-verbal part. 

Writing e-mails, and making their resume are all a part of communication.

  1. Professional skills
  • Decision-making skills

As your teen enters college from school, every day they will be facing situations where they must make plenty of decisions. So, this is one of the most vital skills teens should have. 

From a young age hone this skill in your child by encouraging them to take their own decisions where the stakes are low.

  • Problem-solving skills

People who have a problem-solving attitude are in great demand and make good leaders. So, this is one essential skill for teens that they should possess in order to be successful in their academic and professional life. Start working with your adolescents and teens on the growth mindset from a young age to develop this skill.

  • Adaptability

The idea is to teach them to adapt to the changes and unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations that they could face in college or in their place of work. 

A great way to teach adaptability is to challenge your teen to think about potential roadblocks they may face in certain scenarios and to form strategies of possible responses and solutions.

  1. Financial skills

One of the biggest things about being an independent adult is managing your own money. Teens should learn about budgeting, necessary versus discretionary expenses, and the reason for and value of saving. They should also understand the difference between cash, debit, and credit cards and the unique value of each option.

Most important make sure your child knows how to live within a budget and understands the pitfalls of using credit irresponsibly.

Also, by teaching financial management skills from an early age to your teens you are teaching them decision-making skills and taking personal responsibility before it can have a major impact on their life.

  1. Organising skills

These are just as crucial for a teen’s future success as learning a basic language.

From a young age, parents should encourage their children to keep track of their school assignments, maintain a daily to-do list, and keep their belongings and space in an organized manner.

  • Time management

Effective time management increases productivity. At a time when teens juggle academics, social life, skill building, and entertainment all in 24 hours, time management becomes very crucial to prevent being overwhelmed. Good time management helps them accomplish more and keeps the stress low.

  1. Emotional skills

There are many situations in life that demand teenagers to demonstrate good emotional control and refrain from impulsive behaviour.  

  • Standing up for themselves

The children should know what their values and beliefs are and should be assertive about them. When we teach our teens to be assertive, they learn to understand their needs. They can make better friends and will be able to stand against bullying in any form and be a victim.

  • Regulating emotions

Teens and adolescents when away from home are more likely to face situations that will test them and not be favourable for them. It is very important that they know how to handle their emotions- know what they are feeling and why and how to resolve it.

  • Finding purpose

Knowing your purpose and working for it is what makes an individual truly satisfied. Help your teen in finding their abilities and talents by trying out various hobbies and passions so that they know what resonates with them the most. The more they do this search, the more things they will discover about their personality which will shape them into a capable person.

  • Self-confidence

 Self-confidence is the most essential life skill for adolescents as it is the foundation for every other life skill. Believing in oneself and trusting their ability gives a kind of self-control over their life.

Parents can enhance this by providing a safe environment where teens can develop trust in their judgments, abilities, and skills.

Parenting is much more than teaching your teens to tie shoelaces, making them clean their room, getting their homework done, and getting them to school on time. In this hustle and bustle of life, don’t forget to equip your teens with these important life skills, skills which they will use for life, and which will turn them into productive citizens of the world.

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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