Teaching kids how to take care of themselves and others is so important for their development as healthy, productive humans.
Today, we’ll share life skills for kids (from preschoolers to 18 year-olds).
From young children to tweens to young adults, here are real-world life skills to help any child succeed in life!
Importance of Teaching Kids Life Skills
Life skills help you find happiness & success in school, work, and personal life!
Unlike technical skills, including math, science, and other subjects we learn in school, life skills are often not taught in a traditional classroom setting. These skills are nonetheless vital in the proper development of children and adults.
Interested in books on life skills? Check out 8 great books for kids that teach life skills!
And now, let’s take a look at essential life skills for children!
30 Real-World Life Skills for Kids
Crucial to child development, and preparing for the real world, these essential life skills help prepare kids for successful adulthood. Whether you’re in elementary school or high school, the following 30 life skills will help you find success!
1. Basic First Aid
Basic first aid consists of knowing how to handle an emergency. A kid should know how to use a first aid kit (as well as know where it’s located at home and other places). Basic first aid also includes knowing how to call 911 in case of an emergency. It’s important to practice through role-playing. That way, you’ll be ready to lend a helping hand!
2. Basic Hygiene
Learning how to perform basic hygiene without being told is an important life skill. Here are some examples of basic hygiene: brushing teeth, bathing, combing or brushing hair, washing face, and getting dressed. You can add knowing when to clean clothes in there, too (more on cleaning below). Pre-teens can add using deodorant to the list as well.
3. Caring for Pets and Plants
This is something even adults have a hard time with, but if you can take care of a pet or plant, you’re ready to tackle much more in life! Along with being responsible, caring for another living thing provides opportunities to learn empathy. You don’t need to get a big dog or cat, though. Start easy with a houseplant or goldfish!
4. Cleaning and Chores
Doing chores doesn’t have to be a pain! The key is to perform tasks that are age appropriate. Sometimes there’s allowance, but money does not have to be involved. How to do laundry, for example, is one of the top things to learn. That includes using the washing machine and dryer, as well as properly folding clothes. Cleaning one’s room is another chore.
5. Communication Skills
Kids require high-touch personal interaction throughout the day. This includes being able to understand and communicate with other people. Listening intently and reading social cues help to develop strong communication skills. Conversation skills and writing letters all fall under communication (more on those skills below).
6. Conversation Skills
Holding a conversation with friends, family, and acquaintances is crucial when it comes to developing relationships. Unfortunately, a lot of kids text and don’t do many face-to-face conversations. Strong conversation skills help for school, job interviews, work, and life in general. Tip: try practicing conversation at the dinner table!
7. Critical Thinking & Problem-Solving Skills
Don’t worry, these are skills that even adults struggle with. The key is to learn problem-solving skills (and adaptation) at an early age. This can result in a person that can be resilient and bounce back with confidence! The key is to be patient and positive. This goes for the adults teaching critical thinking and problem-solving skills, too.
8. Contact Info Memorization
Know how to find your way back home? If not, this is definitely a skill to learn. Along with a phone number, a child should also memorize their home address. Smartphones and GPS offer easy access to contact info and directions, but you can’t count on it working (or having a device with you) all the time.
9. Coping with Failure
It can be hard to deal with, but failure is part of life. Those that embrace failure, however, are much more likely to find success and be happy. Be open to corrections from parents and teachers (just as long as those corrections are warranted). A kid that can handle failure (and criticism) is much more emotionally, mentally, and socially prepared for adulthood!
10. Decision-Making Skills
Making a decision can be tough. It also doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so it’s something that should be learned early on. Indecision can lead to anxiety and procrastination. Being decisive helps build confidence. It also makes the process much more efficient. It’s important for kids to learn how to make healthy decisions at an early age.
11. Driving Safely and Taking Care of Vehicle
Of course, this only applies to teenagers that can drive. Driving and taking care of a vehicle is a big responsibility. Some basics include how to pump gas, change a flat tire, and check the engine oil (and other fluids). Even if a teen doesn’t own a car, it’s still a good idea to learn about car maintenance and ownership.
12. Finding a Job
Again, this applies to teenagers of appropriate age. Teens should learn the proper steps, including how to create resumes and submit applications. For instance, college applicants that have a summer job tend to be more desirable. Kids of all ages can make money without getting a “job.” Read about more than 70 ideas on how kids can make money.
13. Getting Dressed and Ready
We briefly mentioned this during basic hygiene. Children are able to learn how to dress themselves and get ready for the day at an early age. Some ways to help with this process include laying out an outfit the night before and getting an alarm clock that’s easy to use. You can also pin up pictures or flashcards that show how to perform the process!
14. Good Manners
Proper etiquette is a lifelong skill set that everyone should learn. Saying “please” and “thank you” are examples of good manners. Another example are table manners, including how to appropriately use a napkin and utensils. It’s also helpful to learn what’s appropriate in other countries and cultures, especially if you travel.
15. Interaction with Others
Appropriate interaction with other people is one of the most important life skills. This includes clear communication and good manners, which we discuss above. One of the key things is to be a good listener. Wait your turn to talk, and while you’re doing so, be present and really take in what the other person has to say. This can go a long way!
16. Learning to Swim
If you ever find yourself around or in a body of water, you should know how to swim. This is one of the best ways to keep safe and also have fun! Swimming is also one of the best low-impact sports. So if you’re looking to get some exercise and enjoy yourself in the water, make sure that you properly learn how to float, swim, and be comfortable in water!
17. Making Connections
The more we connect the dots (and see patterns), the more easily we can understand the world around us. This goes for concepts, things, and people! What’s one way to learn how to make connections? Sort through and organize toys. Another great way to learn is by choosing an outfit appropriate for the weather!
18. Money Management
Understanding money and having financial awareness is one of the most essential skills! This can be done at an early age. From saving in a piggy bank to bank accounts to credit cards, a child should learn how to manage finances wisely. As they get older, kids can also learn about investing and trading (including the exciting new world of cryptocurrency).
19. Ordering at Restaurants
Adults tend to order for kids. They feel it’s quicker & easier that way. However, kids are more than capable of doing it themselves! This can boost self-esteem and confidence. Plus, you’ll probably get exactly what you want to eat. Children as young as preschoolers can take orders, as many restaurants have picture menus. It’s fun to order all by yourself!
20. Overall Independence
As mentioned about ordering, adults try to make things easier by doing them for kids. For example, a kid ages 10-13 is old enough to stay home by themselves for short periods of time. This is a good opportunity to practice independence. Some examples include finishing homework alone, picking up bedroom, and taking care of personal belongings.
21. Preparing a Meal
Do you know how to cook a simple meal? If not, that’s not a big deal. There are actually plenty of adults that don’t know how to either! That being said, this skill can help you save money and become much more self-sufficient. Start with safe & easy tools and recipes. Making your own meal is both healthier and cheaper than going out to eat!
22. Riding a Bike
Riding a bicycle offers so many benefits! These include physical health, focus, coordination, and balance. It’s also good for the environment. One of the best ways to learn how to bike is with a balance bike (or regular bike without wheels) that you can learn to balance on on a flat surface. Of course, not everyone is able to ride a bike. And that’s okay, too!
23. Self-Defense Skills
You always hope you don’t need to use these skills, but if you do, it can save your life and possibly others. Having a working understanding of self-defense can come in handy in dangerous situations. Self-defense not only includes physical defense tactics but also verbal ones like de-escalation tactics. It also helps to boost a kid’s confidence!
24. Showing Gratitude
It’s easy to be spoiled and not be grateful for the things, people, and opportunities in your life. That being said, it’s important to learn and show gratitude. This can greatly improve your outlook on life, as well as be a more pleasant & positive person to be around. Learning gratitude now will go a long way in adulthood.
25. Standing Up for Oneself
Along with being able to protect yourself, standing up for yourself is also an important life skill. Self-defense can protect you during physically dangerous situations, but what about asking for a raise or letting a waiter know they made a mistake? The key is to be confident, clear, and kind. It’s actually amazing how easy it can be sometimes. Try it!
26. Staying Organized
Decluttering and organizing your spaces is not just about cleanliness. It helps make life easier and less stressful! By keeping your room organized, for example, you know where everything is for quick access. Whether it’s in your bedroom or classroom, staying organized helps make life so much breezier!
27. Telling Jokes
This could technically be part of the conversation section, but we feel it deserves its own recognition! Being able to tell at least one good joke is a great way to break the ice and get a good conversation going. It helps to make people feel at ease and encourage them to get to know you. Plus, who doesn’t like to tell or hear a good joke?
28. Time Management
Time management is a skill that everyone can use! From schoolwork to sports to extracurriculars, kids have a lot on their plate. How do you manage it all? It comes down to creating routines and following schedules. If you learn to manage your time efficiently, it can make life a lot more fun and a lot less stressful!
29. Using Maps and Public Transportation
This is important if you live in a city. And even if you don’t live in an urban area, it’s a great idea to learn how to use both maps and public transit! One way of teaching kids these skills is by getting them to help while an adult is navigating to a new destination. This will help them learn the special symbols on maps, as well as tricks for getting around!
30. Writing Letters
At first, this might seem out of date. We live in a world that’s connected by mobile devices and smartphones. Why do you need to know how to write letters? Well, for one, it can help with email correspondence. It also helps when writing a cover letter for a new job. Also, it’s a nice touch to send a handwritten letter to family and friends. People love getting letters!
Final Thoughts on Essential Life Skills
Learning basic life skills has many benefits. These include boosting self-esteem and becoming more self-sufficient. If a kid learns these skills at a young age, they are much more likely to be more happy and productive later in life.
Having a list of life skills is super helpful. However, without the right guidance, that list might not help you get very far. That’s why we recommend finding proper help. That way, a child can learn & grow confidently, ready for real life as an adult!
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