Remember when you were a teenager? You probably had to juggle school, family time, and maybe even a part time job. Your parents probably did their best to ensure that you stayed out of trouble, and it is very likely that they did a good job of imparting some important life skills to you. Now, you’re a parent yourself, and you are faced with the problem of how to provide your teens with the life skills they need to face the future head on.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to make sure that your teen is headed in the right direction. Let’s take a look at just a few important life skills for teenagers, and talk about ways you can help your kids learn valuable lessons that will help them now and in years to come.
It is natural for teenagers to long for independence. Think back to your own teenage years – didn’t you have a longing for freedom? Didn’t you want to make your own decisions? Your own kids are the same way. They want to make their own choices, and they long to leave their mark on the world.
Fostering independence in your teenager is important. Even though you may worry about what your kids are doing when they are not under strict surveillance, you’ve got to let them gain that important sense of self-worth that comes from being trusted.
Be sure your teenagers know that drinking alcohol and using drugs are not acceptable activities. Never give them a reason to hide anything from you, and never make them feel that they can’t come to you with problems. If they slip up, come up with a plan for dealing with the problem effectively. Use negative incidents as tools for growth, instead of falling into despair. If you think about it, most of us have made mistakes! Don’t let worry stand in the way of growth.
Giving your kids a sense of independence doesn’t mean that you’re abandoning them, or turning them out into the world completely unprepared for reality. You can teach this life skill by gradually encouraging independent thinking, and by providing teens with opportunities to make the right choices.
Your kids will become adults one day – and it will happen sooner than you think. Isn’t it great to know that when you provide them with a sense of confident independence, you also give them a greater chance at a happy and successful life?
Everyone has responsibilities. If your kids have no responsibilities now, then it is time to do them a favour, and give them something to be responsible for. Make the first responsibilities you give your teenagers small ones. Perhaps it can be up to them to set the table for dinner, or to sort and fold their own laundry. Maybe they need to learn to make their own beds or pick up after themselves.
If they have already graduated from simple tasks like this, then they are ready for larger responsibilities. They may be ready to start earning some money on their own. Perhaps they are ready to look for small business opportunities, or maybe they can be responsible for helping younger kids with their homework. Maybe it is time for them to learn to drive a car – some responsibilities can be fun!
Responsibility is one of the most important life skills for teenagers to learn. Make sure that greater amounts of responsibility are met with greater rewards, and be sure that the rewards are meaningful. Talk about positive and negative consequences, and be sure that your teen knows that he or she is ultimately responsible for things that happen in the future.
Making the Most of Relationships
If your teenager spends more time watching TV or playing video games than he or she spends involved in meaningful activities that foster real-life relationships, then you’ve got a problem on your hands. Kids who don’t learn how to interact effectively with other people tend to do poorly once they are out on their own.
One of the most important life skills for teenagers involves interpersonal interaction with people from various walks of life. You could see to it that your teens are involved with sports, or that they participate in youth group activities sponsored by your church or community centre. Kids can learn a lot by shadowing adults at work, and they can even mentor smaller children, once they have gained some knowledge. What matters most is that they are involved.
Face to face interaction is important. While it is true that computers and other electronic devices are here to stay, the need to interact with others in professional and social ways will never go away. Do all you can to be sure that your teens are learning how to create balanced relationships with other people.
When it comes to intimate relationships, be sure to give your children the education they need to stay safe, and to avoid sexual encounters before they are ready. It is important for teenagers to understand that intimacy is more than just physical contact. If you are not sure about how to broach this subject with your teens, you’re not alone. This is one of those life skills for teenagers that can be tough to approach effectively! Luckily, there are many books and other resources that can help you to provide your teenager with the skill and courage to follow the straight and narrow path to healthy intimate relationships.
Preparing Your Kids for Life in the Real World
Once your teenagers grow to be adults, they will need to do all kinds of things. They will need to be able to manage money effectively, and they will need to be able to make good decisions when it comes to things like buying a car, using credit cards, and making decisions about who to spend their time with, and how to use that time most effectively.
One of the best ways you can provide your teen with the life skills he or she needs is to be a good example, yourself. Take a good look in the mirror: Are you the kind of person you would like your son or daughter to grow up to be?
Teaching your teenagers how to deal with everything from interpersonal relationships to money management can be tough; but there are plenty of fantastic resources available to help you accomplish the task! So, think about the individual challenges you and your teenager face, and then get started. Each day that passes without action on your part brings your teen a day closer to adulthood. By ensuring that your teenager has the life skills he or she needs, you are helping to provide a better future.
Lyn is a paramedic and has seen first hand the devastation caused by the breakdown in communication between a parent and a teenager. She has seen a beaten child, an overdosed teenager, a dead child, or even a beaten parent.
Lyn is also a single mother of four boys. She has raised those boys as a couple and as a single. Lyn has experienced personally the heartache and despair when her teenager was on drugs and alcohol. The hopeless feeling that goes with the breakdown in communication between a parent and their teen.