Your teens are in an important transition period between childhood and adulthood, and there are many life skills they need to learn. Your job as a parent is to teach them what they need to know so that they can be successful, responsible adults. Check out the following list so that you can plan your lessons.
One of the first things teens should know how to do is set a budget. They must know how to keep track of their income and expenses. Show your teens how to make two columns, one for income and one for expenses, and how to make them balance (or better yet come out in the black with more income). Also, teach your teens how to cut expenses, starting with entertainment and technology costs, and how to research purchases and identify the difference between need and want. You might also emphasize the importance of saving and offer them a savings challenge.
Your teens also need to understand the ins and outs of insurance. Using your own policies, prepare lessons on homeowner’s insurance, car insurance, health insurance and life insurance. Explain terms like personal liability coverage, premiums and claims, and let your teens know why you’ve made the insurance decisions you did. This may be a good time to revisit those decisions, too, so that you can be sure you have the right amount of insurance in place.
Maintaining a House and Car
Another set of critical life skills revolves around maintaining a house and car. Go over the basics of housecleaning and simple repairs with your teens, giving them practical lessons and experience in these areas. You might also let them in on your list of desired home improvements to help them understand what it takes to own a home.
As for car maintenance, when your teens get close to driving age and are learning how to drive, show them right away how to check oil, put in gas, change a tire and understand dashboard lights and warnings. Bring them with you when you purchase license tabs. They should also learn traffic rules and develop a sense of safety early on. When your teens start driving, set strict rules, and make sure they follow them.
You should also spend some time teaching your teens how to stay organized. Get them their own planners, either in app or paper form, and make sure they use them. Have them write down assignments, events, appointments, practices and the like, and check their planners daily until your kids develop good habits.
Also, insist that your teens organize their possessions and personal spaces. Provide storage bins, baskets or boxes in fun designs and colors, and come up with some rewards and/or punishments to encourage their continual use.
Perfecting Social Skills
Social skills are another important set of life skills for your teens. Talk to them about respectful words and behavior and about building and maintaining friendships. Let them know that they can come to you with questions and that you’ll give them the best advice you can. Have conversations about romantic relationships, too, and make sure your teens understand proper limits. You may also want to get your kids involved in some social or educational groups where they can learn how to interact with others and practice speaking skills.
Building Personal Skills
Finally, there are many different personal skills that your teens should work to build. These may include taking responsibility for their decisions, being polite even in difficult circumstances and apologizing when they are wrong. You might also help your teens develop good habits of personal hygiene and grooming and proper routines of eating and exercise. Even basic first aid training can be part of these lessons.
Your teens have so much to learn that they may sometimes feel a little overwhelmed. Let them know that with time and practice, they will develop their life skills and grow into terrific adults.