Let’s be honest; parenting can suck at times. It seems like more and more kids are leaving home with less and less basic skills needed to get them through life. Gone are the days of Home Economic classes being taught in schools. Parents are busier than ever, with more dual-income homes than ever before. Many times, unfortunately, taking the time to teach life skills to our kids falls by the wayside. How will our future generation learn these essential life skills?
Parents should find time to teach kids these necessary life skills to get kids ready for the reality of the day to day life in the real world. Here are 30 essential life skills parents should teach their kids for maximum success at navigating the real world:
1. How to Change a Flat Tire
It is no fun thinking of your teen stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, especially a country road without much traffic. Do you believe roadside assistance will always be there to change your teens’ tire? Roadside assistance doesn’t help if your teen is driving in a remote location where roadside assistance is unavailable, or their cell phone is dead. Even if your teen can reach roadside assistance, they may still be there waiting on the side of the road awhile until roadside assistance can get there, sometimes even longer if severe weather or traffic conditions are causing significant delays.
Driving teenagers should know how to change a flat tire and have the necessary tools accessible in their car. These tools include a spare tire and a jack, among other tools to get the job done. If you are not sure how to change a flat tire yourself, there are plenty of online tutorials out there that can walk you step by step. It is vital for your kids’ safety and convenience to teach them how to change a flat tire.
2. How to Cook at Least a Few Simple Meals
There’s no need for gourmet, but these meals should not be straight from a box or premade frozen meals. They should have some nutritional content. A few ideas to consider are spaghetti, tacos, chicken, eggs, and burgers. Some simple cooking methods include Crockpot meals and grilling.
Invite kids in the kitchen to cook meals with you. Not only does this teach them how to cook, but it also provides for some quality time spent together. Allow older kids to make dinner for the family sometimes. You know what they say, practice makes perfect!
3. How to Study Properly
Some study skills can be taught in school, but kids need to be able to practice them at home on their own. Kids need to be able to figure out what study methods work best for them and how to incorporate time management in their study efforts.
Many kids in high school are not as prepared for when they get to college, and will have to study on their own, and likely, a great deal more than they had to in middle school and high school!
4. How to Budget, Save, and Spend Money Wisely
Financial literacy is not learned much at school. Money is a hot topic in the real world and could be the cause of some serious financial troubles if not learned from an early age. Make it a priority to have a conversation about money, including how to earn it, spend it, and save it.
There are many teen bank accounts out there they can learn from to get started. Teach them how to balance a checkbook. Set kids up for being financially successful now rather than later!
5. How to Pump Gas
Kids may not be able to learn this skill hands-on until they are over 16 in some places, but kids need to learn how to pump gas as well as how to do it safely.
Gasoline is very flammable. Young drivers need to know gas pump safety, such as turning off the ignition, avoiding smoking, the dangers of cell phone usage, and how to prevent dangerous static electricity situations.
6. How to Start a Fire
This one is a necessary survival skill that every kid needs to know and is rarely taught anymore. It’s imperative for kids to understand how to start a fire in the event they are in a situation where they need to start a fire for warmth and food.
Being able to start a fire can come in very useful at a backyard campout or in a survival situation while you or loved ones go on a lengthy hike. They need to know what kind of material they can use and how to use them to get the fire started effectively.
7. How to Leave a Proper Tip
You don’t want to waste money, leaving too large of a tip, and on the other hand, you don’t want to short a hard-working individual that depends on your money to make ends meet.
There are plenty of tip percentage calculators out there that you can teach your kids how to use. Showing them how they should tip is another important topic of a tip discussion. Let them calculate your next restaurant meal tip!
8. How to Clean the House
Kids should know how to at least clean the central living areas of a home such as bathrooms, kitchens, and their bedrooms. They should be knowledgeable about what cleaning products to use for various cleaning jobs and how to use them safely. Your children should know to use cleaning tools such as a vacuum, broom, and mop.
Make cleaning these and other areas a regular chore for them. You will have to spend less time cleaning now, and their future roommates will thank you later!
9. How to Use a First Aid Kit
Teach your children how to be safe and how to react when emergencies happen. In emergencies, kids should learn the importance of remaining calm. This advice will keep them more level headed and be able to think through how to help when an emergency arises.
Treating a burn, knowing how to stop bleeding, putting on a Band-Aid, and treating a cut, are among the first aid basics every kid should have some knowledge about doing. There are many first aid programs out there that teach first aid basics. Search for one in your area if you’re interested in attending one with your kids.
10. How to Drive a Car
Even if you live in a big city with substantial public transportation, you should learn how to drive in the event you need to rent a car or use a moving van. Kids should know the basics of driving in case a situation arises where their driver is incapable.
Teens can start learning this skill in the driver’s seat at about 15 years old, but rules of the road and driving safety can be taught to kids at any age! Most teens can start attending driving school around the age of 15 years old. Consider this option along with practice under your direct supervision.
10. How to Do Sewing Basics
Sewing used to be a fundamental skill most people knew how to do and utilized on a regular day basis, but has since become a lost art.
Knowing how to mend a rip in your shirt or how to hem pants could save you lots of money in the long run and can come in handy when you are in a pinch!
12. How to Read a Map (When GPS Isn’t Available)
Most of us use our mobile devices and GPS to rely on directions to get us where we want to go. People rarely use road maps anymore, but you need to know how to find your way if you don’t have access to your GPS technology.
Keeping a road map of your state and soundings in your car is a good idea in case your digital device fails you!
13. How to Take Care of Personal Hygiene
This habit seems simple, I know! However, kids should understand the importance of deodorant, be able to clean themselves in a shower or bath, keep their hair clean and well-groomed, brush their teeth, and the list goes on.
Lacking this necessary skill by itself can affect an individual’s ability to keep personal relationships and even a job.
14. How to Grocery Shop on a Budget
Most teens have gone to the grocery store with their parents and have gone through the checkout process, but do they know how to use a budget to buy a week’s worth of nutritious food?
Ideas to teach kids efficient grocery shopping include utilizing a grocery list, meal planning, using coupons, and calculating a realistic budget that they can stick to while their stomachs are growing through the aisles. Don’t forget to teach them to put back items when they are over budget!
15. How to Use Good Manners
Saying please, and thank you are just plain respectful. Children should be saying these words as soon as they can speak and into adulthood.
Other basic manners include opening doors for others, saying ‘yes ma’am’ and ‘no sir,’ shaking hands, as well as pulling out chairs. These polite ways make a positive impression on others, and this basic life skill should be used daily no matter what the age!
16. How to Make the Bed
This skill can be learned early. Kids can start learning this skill as soon as four and five years old. Making your bed not only makes your room look cleaner, but an unmade also causes dust and dirt to build up underneath the covers.
Making your bed sets the tone for the day. It will give you a sense of pride and encourage you to continue accomplishing tasks for the rest of the day! You will also be less likely to crawl back under them later and skip chores that need to be done.
17. How to Wake Up on Time
Teach kids to use an alarm clock to get up on time by themselves. This healthy habit will teach them to be responsible and accountable to make it through the toughest part of the morning — getting up.
Try moving the alarm clock across the room, so they have to get out of bed to stop the blaring alarm. Hopefully, you will say goodbye to morning battles soon with this life skill!
18. How to Write a Resume
A good resume may be the difference between getting the job and not. Your resume should be polished to make a favorable impression on prospective employers. In fact, it is one of the most crucial steps in the job searching process. Teens need to understand resume basics now before they have to start creating them for those real-world jobs later down the road.
There are many resume writing resources, such as LinkedIn. Teach your kids how to build a resume to snag that great job they will be looking for after graduation!
19. How to Solve a Problem Through a Business Call
When children finally enter the real world, problems will arise that need to be fixed, and in some cases, they may need to call to resolve the issue. Although many concerns can be addressed online, they still need to be able to call and speak to a person at times.
The ability to communicate effectively will go a long way in getting the assistance they need. Plus, they should always understand it is okay to ask for help at any age.
20. How to Do Laundry — And Fold Their Clothes
Collecting, sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting away their own laundry should be something kids should be able to do before they enter adulthood. They should be fully capable of doing laundry on their own.
Moreover, if you can get them to toss those dirty clothes in the laundry basket right after they take them off, that another plus! They shouldn’t be worried about not having anything to wear with this essential life skill.
21. How and When to Call Emergency Services (Like 911)
Place something on your fridge to remind them of the numbers to call in case of an emergency. Teaching kids how to call 911 and other emergency services can make the difference between life and death.
Also, don’t forget to teach them that they shouldn’t ever unnecessarily call 911 or prank call emergency services as well as the repercussions of that action.
22. How to Fix Basic Home Repairs
Knowing how to do necessary home repairs can save you a lot of time and money. Having to unclog a toilet, fix a leaky faucet, or repair a broken door are just a few typical small home repairs that tend to come up.
Let your kids roll up their sleeves with you while you tend to those walls that need to be painted and nails that need to be hammered!
23. How to Converse With Adults
The abundance of technology and texting these days is likely to be a factor in why so many kids struggle to have a real conversation with an adult.
They need to be able to talk to adults, especially teachers and other adults in authority. Effective communication will be required when they need to converse with a teacher about a test or a boss when they get into the workplace. Kids should learn this skill early, so they will be better equipped to deal with other adults when they go out into the real world.
24. How to Act as a Responsible Employee
As soon as they become of age, kids need to learn how to do well at their job and be a good employee. Whether they are an employee at Uncle Joe’s repair shop or the supervisor at Burger King, they need to have a good work ethic. Learning this skill will help kids learn how to be responsible and keep their priorities in check.
Teach your children and teenagers how to take direction without talking back, but still understand it is okay to ask questions for clarification. Being on time, focusing on customer needs, and following instructions are all essential qualities of a good employee.
25. How to Secure Important Records
Parents usually take care of holding on to kids’ important records and documents, but eventually, kids will have to do this for themselves.
However, before that day comes, they need to know what type of documents and records they should be keeping. There are a plethora of documents that need protection such as social security cards, birth certificates tax records, and passports. Also, teach them how to keep those documents safe and secure in a fire-proof lock box.
26. Where Food Comes From and How to Grow It
Children should know what type of food grows on trees, and what they need to do to make fruits and vegetables grow with key elements such as sun, water, soil, and so on.
Try growing a vegetable garden together so kids can learn these critical food-producing factors, or plant some fruit trees. You will enjoy eating these homegrown foods with your kids!
27. How to Address a Person of Authority (Like a Police Officer)
This skill is similar to No. 23, but even more important. Knowing how to address adults in authority will make a tremendous difference in how situations turn out for your children.
Whether they get pulled over by a police officer or they are dealing with the employee behind the counter at the DMV, kids and teens alike need to know how to show respect and listen to what these authority figures are saying.
28. How to Set Technology Limitations
As discussed above in No. 23, utilizing technology excessively could hinder a kids ability to learn how to communicate with others. Being present in the moment and interacting with people on a personal level are also skills kids lose out on when they are immersed in too much technology.
They also need to understand that social media is not always the real world or what it seems to be and that what is posted on social media, is usually the best parts of others lives, and not always accurate. Also, generally, the negative aspects of others’ lives are not displayed. It is essential to teach them this, so they don’t feel bad about their own lives. Kids and teens need to put the phones and tablets down and interact with those around them. We should encourage our kids to be present in the real world as much as possible!
29. How to Read and Follow Medications
Lack of knowledge and understanding about how to follow medication instructions, whether over the counter or prescriptions, can lead to some severe health consequences.
Kids and teens need to be able to read and follow dosage instructions and know how to determine how much is required based on their weight and age. Overdosing themselves or others could be potentially dangerous.
30. How to Hunt for Food and Prepare Caught Game
Some may not agree, and that’s okay. Kids in the city may not get much of an opportunity to learn this skill. However, teens and adults need to know how to feed themselves if presented with a scenario where a grocery store is not an option, and food is scarce. Knowing how to kill an animal for food if necessary, is an essential survival skill you may not want to be without at desperate times!
Practice makes perfect with this skill. If you don’t hunt yourself, find someone to take you and your kid, or find a hunting camp with locals willing to teach you and your kid hunting basics. There are plenty of people out there looking for an excuse to go hunting! Most people won’t mind helping you learn.
This list might seem overwhelming to parents who haven’t already started actively teaching their children these necessary life skills. However, don’t let this long list of skills intimidate you! Pick a few skills each month or year for kids to learn. Some of these skills can even be taught in sports and other extracurricular activities. Invite them to help you when you are cooking, cleaning, gardening, and fixing things around the house, or even hunting (gun safety first!).
It’s so necessary to teach our kids these skills so they will have the knowledge that they will need to grow and become productive members of society. Teaching them these skill sets are a great way to give them a head start on other kids their age. Teaching kids all that you can while they are in your home will make all the difference to help your kids be the best they can be!