Life Skills To Teach Teens Before They Leave Home

life skills for teensAlthough today’s teens have access to more information more quickly and easily than ever before, and are more connected with texting, social media, and the Internet, they are also more stressed than ever according to the American Psychological Association.

The APA reports that nearly half of teens experiencing stress aren’t managing it well or at all and need adults to model good stress management behaviors. That’s not the only thing teens don’t know how to do. says their survey found that two thirds of teens don’t know how to change a tire. With today’s level of connectedness, does it really matter?

What the Experts Say

Experts, like Donald J. Foss, University of Houston professor of psychology and “Your Complete Guide to College Success” author, agree that teens need practical skills like how to do their own laundry properly, how to manage money, and how to stay safe and healthy. APA CEO and Executive Vice President Norman B. Anderson reports that teens need support and education about how to handle stress and unhealthy behaviors that stem from it.

Stanford University researchers studying the effects of multi-tasking, social media and digital communications on how we learn and perform found it affects recall ability and slows ability to process information. Teens have a higher level of distraction today with the always-on communication capabilities available and multi-tasking is not just for work anymore.

Because of advances in technology, people are multi-tasking at home, especially younger people who are doing things simultaneously while listening to music and eating. With this level of multi-tasking and distraction, it’s important to teach teens basic life skills before they go away to college or move out to live on their own.

Changing a tire, doing laundry, cooking, managing money, planning and self-care are important for a happy, healthy transition to adulthood.

Basic Auto Maintenance

AAA recommends parents teach teens proper auto maintenance before they go off to college, especially if they will be sending them with a vehicle. They should be familiar with the vehicle’s owner’s manual and maintenance schedule.

Many kids don’t know how to change a tire, but with the ease of getting brand-name tires delivered right to your door, parents shouldn’t neglect teaching this skill. AAA recommends teaching teens how to use a tire gauge, how often to check tires, what to look for such as uneven wear, cracks, punctures, and leaks, and how to find the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure.

Managing Money

Washington Post community news editor talked with Washington, D.C. educators about life skills teens need to learn while in high school. Managing money and understanding bank accounts and budgets were stressed by school counselor Maril Jackson and career and technical education specialist Andrea Bechberger.

They should know how to open a bank account, how to check their account online, how money goes in and comes out of the account, and how to use a debit card. Bechberger recommends giving teens a financial project to handle, such as planning a family vacation and how to plan for spending on transportation, lodging and activities.

Other Life Skills

Other life skills teens should have before going away to college include how to handle emergencies, people skills such as acting respectfully and polite and proper ways to greet someone. They need to know how what to do if they are involved in a car accident or have to go to the emergency room.

Parents should teach teens about how insurance works and how to use it. Time management is important to learn in high school. Teens should know how to mark important dates to remember, how to plan for things that must be done and things that they want to get done, such as studying and projects and going out with friends, and how to keep track of upcoming important dates and events.

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