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14 Must-Have Life Skills for Teens

teen451If you’re wondering how your teen will survive on their own, don’t worry too much — chances are your child is a lot more capable than you think. Even so, now is a good time to teach your teen a few practical skills that will leave both of you feeling a little more confident about your offspring’s readiness to leave the nest.

The following are among the 14 skills teen must have to make it on their own:

How to do the laundry

If your child isn’t already doing their own laundry, it’s time to learn. Removing lip balm and pens from pockets, hot water or cold, sorting colors, dealing with delicate fabrics, and removing lint from the dryer should all be part of the curriculum. (Note that some teens may need a pop quiz — with answers from you — on how often things like sweatshirts, jeans, and sheets need to be washed!)

How to budget

If you haven’t already, sit down with your child and show them how to draw up a monthly budget based on how much money they’ll have to spend each month. Explain how you handle your household income, spending, and savings, and point out some of the choices you have to make to stay within your budget. Discuss spending choices they’ll likely encounter in college, and how to manage them.

How to pay bills, manage a bank account, and pay taxes

Does your teen have a bank account yet? If not, help your child open one — ideally at a bank with a branch near campus. Your teen needs to know some key things, like how to access the account online, check the balance, pay bills, whether or not there’s a minimum balance requirement (and what that is), how to avoid overdraft fees, and how to notify the bank if their debit card is lost or stolen. Finally, yes, the thrill of being an adult includes paying taxes. If your teen has a job of any kind, it’s a good idea to file taxes. A dependent who didn’t earn all that much will likely get a refund. If you’re no longer going to claim your teen as a dependent, they’ll need their own return for next year’s FAFSA.

How to manage their time and health

Your teen is fresh off successfully juggling senior year and college apps, but you were there to make sure they ate and slept. Late-night pizza and all-nighters may be a rite of passage in college, but you want to make sure your teen understands the effects that sleep (and lack thereof) and nutrition (ditto) have on their brain and cognition.

Trusting their inner voice

You’ve likely had this conversation at different points in your teen’s childhood — from stranger danger way back when to party scenarios more recently — but now is a good time for the college version. There will be so many new scenarios coming your teen’s way, you cannot cover them all. But it’s a good idea to practice talking through a few. Can your child tell when a person is high or sketchy — and keep a healthy distance? Can your child deflect questions that seem off or think of ways to excuse themselves when things get… weird? This is, actually, something you can practice together or that your teen can practice with their friends.

How (and when) to ask for help

Make sure your teen knows they’re not supposed to know how to do everything. There’s no shame in not knowing. Capable, independent people became that way by asking for help when they need it! Brainstorm with your teen to identify trusted sources or adults they can go to for help, from the resident advisor in their dorm to their college counselor to a local relative or friend of the family — that is, when you’re not available by text.

Excerpted from “14 Must-Have Life Skills for Teens” by San Francisco writer and editor Connie Matthiessen and published on the GreatSchools.org website. Read the full article to see the entire list.

Source: GreatSchools.org.| 14 Must-Have Life Skills for Teens, https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/ten-must-have-college-life-skills-for-teens | ©1998-2019 GreatSchools.org
GreatSchools is a national nonprofit that provides school information and parenting resources to help American families choose the right school, support learning at home, and guide their children to great futures.

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