The Top 15 Essential Life Skills to Teach Your Kids

As parents, we try to give our children a solid educational experience. We want them to "succeed" in life. #Education can not only be reading, writing, and arithmetic but should include basic life skills. Not all learning comes from a book, but rather naturally through everyday interactions and problems solving.

I'm going to share with you our family "goals before graduation."

My advice...start when they are young!

Life Skill #1: Make a Meal

Learning to cook will help you understand world cultures, customs, and flavors. You will also learn life skills such as eating healthy, #budgeting your money (shopping), and cleaning the kitchen.

Save some cash

Spending money on pre-packaged meals gets too expensive for someone on a budget. Although I may do most of the cooking, I always have a teen helping

me. Some of our children are natural-born "food creators," while others stick with the basics and some... well let's just be thankful for fire alarms.

Learning to cook basic foods is an essential life skill

Life Skill #2: Do Laundry

I was shocked at how many of my college friends had NO idea how to use a washing machine (My hubby included)! From the time my little ones can stand and hold onto the dryer they help me "unload" (actually more ends up on the floor). The younger children learn to separate into colors and fold laundry. In our house, when you turn 12, you start washing your own clothes. Doing your own laundry is an essential #lifeskill.

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Life Skill #3: Wake Themselves Up On Time

Being able to wake up on time is huge! I'm not going to call my adult children to wake up and get to work. Therefore, all our children have alarm clocks. They are required to set their own clocks, get up and get their morning chores completed, make and eat their breakfast, and report to the living room at 9:30 for morning devotions and prayer.

Life Skill #4: Basic Auto Care

My hubby has taught all of our children how to pump gas, change the oil, and other basic skills to maintain their cars. I'll admit, my boys gravitate more towards this training but we think the girls need basic auto care knowledge.

teens should know how to change a tire, change their oil, and jumpstart their cars

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Life Skill #5: See a Need and Try to Meet the Need

In our large family, this is a survival technique. We want our children to look beyond their own needs and help care for each other. For example, Caleb will check the oil in Elizabeth's car while she is cooking dinner. Learning to serve others is a learned skill that requires practice.

Life Skill #6: Advocate For Themselves

No high school student wants his mommy to come to school for him and "solve the issue." Our children need to learn to speak out for themselves and learn to solve problems. We have our kids contact their sports coaches for clarification, approach their employers in regards to scheduling issues, and deal with sibling rivalry without my interference. This is adulting!

Being able to listen to instructions is an essential life skill
Learning to take instructions from a coach

Life Skill #7: Pack Their Own Bags

With this large tribe, there is NO way I could possibly pack everyone's bag for a trip. NOPE. They each get a duffle bag and a clear explanation (In my type A personality style...with great detail) what they SHOULD pack. But ultimately, if they don't have enough underwear that's their own problem. And yes, it has happened.

Life Skill #8: Order Their Own Food

I am surprised at how many teens have no idea how to order from a menu. When we eat out we give each child a spending limit...such as "order whatever you want that's under $15...and drink water." My kids take food seriously, so they learned to order from the menu as soon as they could speak!

Being able to speak for yourself is an essential life skill

Life Skill #9: Go Grocery Shopping

We often send our teens to the store to pick up various items. As soon as our girls are old enough they will help make a grocery list. They often pick meals they love to make and are required to meal plan within our budget. As they get older they usually take over all my shopping. This is preparing them to run their own household one day.

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Life Skill #10: Basic First Aid and CPR

As a nurse, I feel that this should be a high school graduation requirement! Since I'm not one to run to the doctors unless death is approaching, my children have learned many home remedies, understand the basics of health care, have applied their own bandages, and ALL have completed a CPR course.

Teens should know basic first aid and cpr before college
CPR class

Life Skill #11: Time Management

Time management is a skill that we all need. By allowing teens to work a job is one of the best ways to teach time management. They must learn how to balance school work, soccer practice, chores, church, and a part-time job. This has come easily for some while others have needed MUCH guidance. But, eventually, they all have learned to wisely manage their time.

time management is an essential life skill for teens
Learning to balance fun with responsibilities

Life Skill #12: How to Find a Job

Learning how to fill out a job application, write a resume, and give a good interview are learned skills. They must learn to emphasize their strengths and speak clearly with confidence. They are always so proud when they land their first job! Read: Working Teens Learn Life Skills

Teens should get a job
First job...Chick fil A

Life Skill #13: Talk to A Stranger

I know we have told our children NEVER to speak to strangers. But as they get older they need to learn to discern the "creepy" people that come their way.

Life Skill #14: How to Handle Failure

If all our children ever know is success, how will they handle failure as an adult? You will not always win every game, you cannot always go first, and you need to learn to share.

Recently, Caleb wanted to fix his truck. My husband recommended taking it to a mechanic as it was not going to be an easy job. But Caleb insisted that he could do it himself....and since it was his money and his truck we told him to go for it. I also told him that it would be ok to fail. Why? Because most of the lessons I've learned in life have been through failing and having to try again. By the way, Caleb fixed his truck!

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Life Skill #15: How to Pray

Your children need to hear you pray, see others pray, and experience family prayer. Our children have gathered around for family devotions and prayer since their birth. They have joined us as we have prayed for much-needed finances, healing miracles, and even for a home. They offer their own prayer scholarships, a better paying job, and even to pass that chemistry test.

Even though we pray as a family we have encouraged our children to have their own prayer life...a time when they can commune with the Lord.

There are so many more essential life skills such as child care, basic household chores, and how to take public transportation. We would have never made it through Europe without our techy teens!

Let's not forget basic house repairs....flooring, painting, and general plumbing. These are skills that will benefit them throughout life.

Teens yearn for us to treat them as adults. So why not train them to BE an adult. Placing more responsibility on our teens allows them to mature, learn strategies for problem-solving, and requires critical thinking skills....all of which are much-needed life skills.

What life skills do you think should be on the list of essential life skills for teens? Let me know in the comment section below!

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About Me

Welcome to our home, my name is Michele. My husband, Walter, and I have been happily married (most of the time) for 28 years. My husband is the Pastor of Strong Tower Church while I work as a Critical Care Nurse. Together, we have been blessed with 10 beautiful children.

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