One minute they’re sitting in their room listening to music that’s entirely too loud and the next they’re preparing for graduation from high school into the real world. Whether it’s post-secondary education, straight into the workforce or a different path altogether, teenagers who already have experience performing essential life skills will have an easier time adjusting to their new responsibilities than other young adults their age.
What skills should a teenager have? Teens should learn the essential life skills all adults must perform to navigate life with as little turbulence—and as much enjoyment—as possible. The more key lessons teens are exposed to before they’re expected to act out those tasks and either reap the rewards of a job well done or suffer the consequences of learning too late, the better for them.
How to Learn New Things
Lifelong learning is one of the most essential life skills to teach youth, as it allows for the adaptability necessary in today’s quickly evolving landscape. Potential employers find hirable traits in the ability to learn and keep up with a field’s latest innovations, but the benefits of healthy learning habits extend beyond the workplace and into almost every facet of adult life.
It all starts when a person is younger and exploring the cause-and-effect relationship between motivation, action and result. If they’re intrinsically motivated to learn from a young age and that curiosity is nourished instead of hindered, that spirit could carry on throughout the rest of their lives. It’s also possible to instill that hunger for knowledge through internalization—when kids understand the benefits of learning and truly believe in them, they’ll adopt that value as one of their own and take on the healthy motivation necessary for a good relationship with learning.
Laying the groundwork for what’s possibly the most imperative of all life skills for teenagers starts in their youth. At an early age, stoke their curiosity and encourage them to explore their interests. Praise hard work and determination. Help them push their boundaries by providing a safe place to reflect on successes, failures and everything that goes into exploring what life has to offer.
Finally, familiarize them with the learning tools available around them, including online courses through Juni Learning. They’ll need the skill set necessary to access new information if they’re planning to learn new things, and online courses have become a go-to for introducing and honing new concepts.
Learning to Cook
Food is a basic need shared by every person on the planet, so society has created a number of ways to obtain that necessary sustenance. Paying other people to make food for you is an increasingly expensive proposition and can introduce unwanted substances like preservatives, so teaching a teen to cook can help prepare them for a future of choosing and making their own meals.
Begin by showing them around the kitchen and introducing them to basic appliances like the range, microwave, toaster oven, blender, and food processor. With those
tools—and maybe a few boxed meals—they should be able to make a week’s worth of meals for themselves. Helping them gain comfort in the kitchen can also lead to self-reliance and a boost in self-confidence. It may even stoke the fires of culinary interest, opening up a new world of possibilities for hobbies or employment.
If a young person is going to cook for themselves, they should know how to procure their own ingredients, too. No, you don’t have to teach your teen to farm—just to be a sound shopper.
Skills like making a list of necessary ingredients to avoid repeat trips, storing groceries and learning which substitutes can be utilized if a desired item is out of stock don’t just come by instinct. Having something teach them these skills will save them a lot of time, frustration and money down the line. It’s also important to show them that buying different sizes of the same product and shopping different stores could save them a substantial amount of money.
From learning to use a vacuum to properly utilizing the dangerous chemicals for disinfecting the bathroom, establishing a relationship with cleanliness will pay dividends when you visit your teen at their own dwelling and it’s pleasantly presentable. Start by establishing a cleaning schedule, good habits when dealing with dirty dishes and a habitual clearing of clutter.
Maintaining the Home
The Internet has changed the way we learn, and one of the most positive changes is our ability to look up simple household projects and follow clear instructions. This means we don’t need to bother our parents or our in-laws to change the furnace filter or use a circuit box. Including your teen on these chores will introduce them to working around the house and give them the confidence necessary to undertake tasks like painting and otherwise altering or maintaining their environment.
Looking for a Job
Crafting a resume can be difficult, so help your teen focus on their marketable strengths and teach them to tailor their resume to the position they’re applying for. Also help them prepare for a mock interview—or a real interview, if they’re entering the workforce while still in school!
Making Phone Calls
Phone calls always had the possibility of turning awkward, but now that other forms of communication have gained prominence, teens may feel that awkwardness is now a probability.
They’ll need to make a lot of important phone calls as they navigate the outside world, including to pay bills, participate in job interviews, and have other critical conversations. They may even need to use a phone as part of their job responsibilities. Let them sit in on some of your calls and participate in practice calls with them. Make sure they’re speaking firmly, directly and working towards their goal in the conversation.
Maintain their Vehicle
If a driver doesn’t know how to service their vehicle, they’ll end up paying a lot for servicing that isn’t complex. Demonstrate adding air to tires, changing tires, refilling fluids, changing fuses, jumpstarting a vehicle and cleaning a vehicle. If you’re able to, you can also walk your teen through an oil change, break change and more.
Opening a Bank Account
If your teen doesn’t already have a bank account, now’s the time to open one in their name, teach them to utilize their savings account and show them how to use a debit card.
Basic Medicinal Knowledge
Being sick isn’t fun—not knowing how to make yourself better makes it worse. Teach teens how to utilize over-the-counter medications the right way and they’ll (probably) never miss a lecture.
Knowing how to navigate a washer and dryer—and how to tell when clothing is properly cleaned and dried—is a hygiene must have. Include your teen next laundry day.
Using a Calendar
When life gets hectic, it can become easy to forget certain dates that would’ve stuck out to teens when they were in the midst of their school routine. Keeping a calendar is an easy way to make certain they’re where they want to be when they want to be there.
Make Time for Hobbies
If your teen has an interest or hobby they’ve carried with them throughout their school career, good! If not, try introducing them to productive or relaxing activities they can indulge in during
Get to Know Mentors
Students in post-secondary education courses usually have more access to their instructors than they did during their high school years. Tell your teen that it’s okay to show enthusiasm and seek out opportunities like internships, apprenticeships or training courses.
Understand a Credit Score
If your teen asks why one number that doesn’t even factor in all their financial responsibilities can either help or hurt them so much during their lifetime, well, you may not have a good answer for that. However, that also means they understand the concept of a credit score. You can help them navigate the particulars so that number leans closer to help than hurt.
Write a Check
Many large transactions can be done through online portals, but doing things like paying rent or buying a vehicle probably still require the use of a check. It’s good for teens to learn how to read one, write one and cash one so their transactions aren’t held up.
Basic First Aid
Living in the world inevitably means becoming the victim of annoying cuts and scrapes. Passing on the knowledge for dealing with these intrusions on happiness will allow teens to recover faster and assist others with basic injuries, too.
Cohabitate With Others
A lot of the courtesies and considerations taken by good roommates may seem like common sense, but for every person who thinks that way there’s a bad roommate out to prove them wrong. Don’t let your teen be that bad roommate. If they have siblings or they’re empathetic, they may have a head start here, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare them for a future of living with strangers.
Turn Off Smoke Alarms
A blaring smoke alarm in their living space could cause a teen to miss sleep or unsafely disable a smoke alarm without properly resetting it.
Recognize Fraudulent Communications
Phishing emails, texting schemes and malevolent phone calls can be tricky to spot. Arming teens with the knowledge to avoid these pitfalls may help them spot other attempts to take advantage.
Write a Professional Email
Email may be sent from the same devices they speak to their friends on, but using non-professional prose in the wrong context can ruin job opportunities, housing prospects and more. Show your child some of your work emails to give examples.
Iron Their Clothing
Crisp shirts can mean the difference between landing that internship and entering the workforce with a wrinkled shirt and zero work experience. Use a throwaway article of clothing to teach proper ironing or steaming techniques.
Understanding Pet Ownership
Teens who’ve taken care of pets may already be familiar with the responsibilities that come along with a living thing—or they just made their parents do all the hard stuff. Away from home, there won’t be anyone to pick up the slack with things like feeding, cleaning and playing with pets. Make teens aware of these realities so they’re prepared for any four-legged roommates they acquire.
Political engagement is an important part of becoming an adult. Help teens register to vote or, if they aren’t quite old enough yet, show them how.
Safely Enjoy Themselves
You hope you’ve equipped your teen with the value set and decision making skills to make the right decisions, but familiarizing them with scenarios where they need to utilize mindful consumption of substances like alcohol or stand up to peer pressure will help them choose wisely under duress.
Teach Important Life Skills
Teens may seem annoyed or bored by some of these lessons, but in hindsight, becoming familiar with this broad range of skills that make everyday adult life easier will make a big difference in your teenager’s life.
Another way to make a big difference is by utilizing online courses to enhance lessons. Juni Learning’s suite of offerings covers a wide range of topics and can provide both supplemental lessons or introduce learners to new topics to help them succeed in the world.