Life skills for teens is an often overlooked part of raising and educating our kids.
Our main job as parents is to raise children who are knowledgeable, skillful members of the community. To prepare them for life on their own.
We do our teens a disservice when we do all of their laundry, cook all of their meals, and fail to teach them the basic life skills they will need to successfully live on their own.
The following is a list of 25 life skills of teens- ones they should know before leaving home. Do your kids have these skills?
Life Skills for Teens: 25 Things They Should Learn Before Leaving Home
Cooking is a skill EVERYONE should have. And unless you want your teen to move out and live on fast food, canned soup, and frozen dinners, he needs to learn how to cook basic meals.
Cooking is a life skill that should be taught from a very early age, so that by the time your kids are teenagers they can cook a full meal alone.
Start with easy meals like pasta, refried beans, homemade soup and work your way up to more complicated meals.
Here are 16 Easy Lunch Ideas– super easy, that teens of any age should be able to manage on their own.
If you are constantly nagging your teen about leaving their dishes in the sink or on the table- they haven’t mastered this one yet! Before your teen leaves home he should have mastered how to wash dishes- correctly, without wasting water- and how to load, start and unload the dishwasher.
Do their Own Laundry
When the clean clothes run out, who does the laundry? Knowing how to load and run a washing machine and dryer is a very important life skill for teens. Teach them how to pretreat stains, sort colored and white, how to bleach whites, and don’t forget to tell them to clean out the lint trap!
My kids start doing laundry rotations starting around 11 or 12 years old.
Sew a Button
We live in a wasteful world. A world where a shirt or pair of pants are trash when they lose a button. Don’t let your teen be this wasteful and teach them basic sewing skills! Sewing on a button is the easiest thing you can sew (my 6 year old daughter can do it!).
So, if you teen doesn’t already have this life skill make sure he can sew a button on. And while you are at it- sewing a ripped seam back together is super helpful too!
Iron a Shirt
Teens aren’t known for dressing up, but there will come a time in their life when they will have to wear a suit, button down shirt, or other somewhat dressy attire. Don’t let your teens go to a job interview or work wrinkled, teach them how to use an iron to look clean and presentable (without a black iron mark on the back of their shirt!)
How to Keep a Plant or Animal Alive
Teens like to think they know it all. They think they are invincible. They also tend to think they are adults before they have the maturity. The older your teens get the closer they are to starting families of their own. So well before they try to raise a baby teach them how to raise a plant or an animal. Keeping something other than themselves alive is a big responsibility- even if it’s just an aloe plant.
How to Unclog a Drain
Do you know how expensive a plumber is to call? Basic plumbing like how to unclog a drain or fix a leaky pipe is an invaluable life skill for teens. It will save them money and give them the knowledge and power to do their own repairs-which feels pretty good!
Change a Tire
I know so many adults who don’t know how to change a tire. There are all sorts of excuses- including having a membership to AAA. But what happens if you get a flat- in the middle of nowhere, with no cell service and no one else around?
Being able to change a tire is one of the most important ALL people should know- especially teens who like to go out driving just to drive.
Jump Start a Car
Again, you may have a membership to AAA, but what if you couldn’t reach them. Using jumper cables isn’t rocket science and it isn’t hard. So teach your teens how to jump a car so they can help themselves or be good Samaritans when they come across a dead car battery.
Pump Their Own Gas
Did you know there are some adults in some states who don’t know how to pump their own gas? This is a very basic life skill. If you can drive a car, you had better be able to pump your own gas.
How to Read a Map (NOT GPS)
Some basic life skills are being lost in this age of technology. Reading a map is one of them. If your teen didn’t have his phone or access to GPS, can he read a map to get where he is going?
If he were lost could he tell which direction he was going? Being able to read a real, paper map is not only an important life skill for teens but a survival skill as well.
Write a Check
Another life skill being lost to technology is writing a check. We have debit cards, online bill pay, electronic checks, etc. Why does your teen need to know how to write a check?
Because imagine his embarrassment if he was 25 and COULD NOT write a check.
How to Budget
Money problems cause life problems. Teach your teen from a young age how to budget him money. Teach him how to save and how to track how much money they need for living expenses and how much they can use for fun.
Living is expensive and teens can get in over their head quickly if they don’t know how to manage their money.
Pay Their Bills
When you teen moves out of the house he will be solely responsible for all of his living expense. Chances are he will need to keep track of bills such as electricity, rent, car insurance, phone, and more.
Your teens need to be able to organize these bills and pay them on time. If they don’t they risk ruining their credit and losing important things like their home!
Write a Professional Letter
Writing a professional letter or email is completely different than texting your BFF- yet some teens don’t seem to get that. If you want your teen to be taken seriously as an adult, make sure he knows how to write a well thought out, professional letter with NO abbreviations or emojis!
Write a Resume/Cover Letter
A resume can make or break the ability to get a job. A cover letter and resume is your teens chance to make a great first impression. Teach them how to write these 2 documents while you still can!
How to Rock an Interview
Interviews are a nerve wracking process, before your teen heads out to get his first job help him prepare by doing a mock interview or giving him an idea of what kind of questions he will be asked and how to answer them correctly.
Here are some tips for teens to have a successful job interview.
How to Research
How to research is the most important thing anyone can learn. If you know how to research you can learn ANYTHING.Teach your teens about good sources, how to research not only online but by using a variety of sources.
Don’t let your teen leave home without mastering this life skill.
How to Be On Time
This is a major pet peeve of mine, and one I see getting worse and worse in younger generations. Please, please, please teach your teen the importance of being on time. Teach them to value their own time and the time of other people.
Don’t let them be late to school. Work. Class. Practice. Start early so they don’t have trouble with being late when it matters.
How to Say No (Stand Up for Themselves)
When our kids are young and they find themselves in trouble they look to us to help them. To keep them safe. Teach your teens to say NO and stick to it. And teach them to be their own advocate and stand up for what they believe in.
I remember when “Bless You” was an automatic response to any sneeze. When doors where held open for strangers. Basic manners and etiquette are a lost life skill for teens that needs to be reclaimed.
Excuse me when you need to pass. Hold doors for strangers, and say than you when someone does it for you. Say thank you when the waiter refills your water glass.
These little manners should be instant and automatic every single time.
At some point in your teens life they may find themselves in a dangerous situation. It could be in a dark parking lot or a bully in class. Teach your teen how to defend herself. How to get away from an attacker. And how to incapacitate an attacker. Then hope they never have to use the knowledge.
Basic First Aid
How to take care of themselves when they are sick or hurt is a life skill all teens need. How to dress a burn or wound. How to prevent dehydration. When to seek medical help. How to do CPR. How to do the Heimlich maneuver. These are all important skills teens need to know.
How to Calculate a Tip
This may seems small- but everyone should know how to easily calculate a tip in their head. Teaching teens to take 10% and double it for 20% or 10% then half of it for 15% is as easy as moving a decimal point and will make a difference in the life of your waiter.
And while you are at it- teach them not to be stingy.
How Their Government Works
When you teen turns 18 years old, he will be an official, voting citizen. Make sure he knows how to vote and how his government system works. How laws are made. How officials are elected.
You can’t change or complain about something you don’t understand.
You can’t prepare your teen for everything, but giving them as many life skills as you can will help them grow to be independent and successful adults. What skills would you add to this list?
These are the skills that should be taught in high school.
Really? Washing dishes and cooking should be taught in school? What are the parents’ job then? Just make sure they don’t starve?
Yes, some of these should be taught in school, like how to write a resume. Public school was created to train children to be ready for the workforce and to be able to function in normal everyday society (i.e. teamwork, communication, problem-solving, dependability, etc). Household chores and duties have nothing to do with that. Or even how to change a tire or defend yourself. Parents expect schools to raise their kids nowadays, and it’s bullcrap.
Look I know my opinion might not be welcome, and I agree with most of what you said. Think of this though.. God forbid a child loses his/her mom or dad or both and they become an orphan. No foster home or other family will will care for them like their parents. If you’re gone wouldn’t you want an institution (school) to teach them these things. I know it might silly but things happen.
Sometimes kids have awful parents. Parents who work their butts off to provide food, shelter.. and are mentally and physically tired. Parents who could gave a damn about the child they gave birth to. Single parents who need a little extra help. I glad for those kids who will get this knowledge. I am glad you seem to be such a great parent though, we need more of those right?
Really? All kids will be taught household skills in public schools because of the very small possibility a kid might become orphaned? I wouldn’t want mine spending time in school doing laundry, ironing, washing dishes, etc….
Add to this list, how to wash & dry their own clothes, pre-treat stains, sew on a button.
Anyone remember a class called Home economics ? So yes it can be taught in school my mom worked my dad worked, yes they taught me some basics but the school also taught me. We even had an area technical college in high school we where able to take classes there for free as a part of our curriculum. Which they would do that now!
Yeah for home economics and industrial arts! My parents were great teachers, but home ec and industrial arts taught me so much more!
There were taught beginning in 7 th grade in the 70’s and before. You learned how to wash dishes in cooling class, how to solder in metal shop, how to use a hand planer, sander, drill etc in wood shop, and how to do basic maintain efficiency in auto shop on your car. Unfortunately., society decided these necessary skills in life no longer mattered.
Parents enforcing what they learned in class with their peers had a more lasting effect on teens then as they learned as a peer group ans the since of competition made many strive to do their best.
When my son was 10 I taught him to do his own laundry. What a blessing that turned out to be. No more mom…I have nothing clean etc, etc, I taught him to cook, and bought him a instapot when he moved out this last year. He was responsible for Sunday dinner for 2 years before leaving home, he also knew how to clean the kitchen and CLEAN HIS OWN BATHROOM.
MY Husband and I have thought about starting a business teaching kids how to unclog a garbage disposal, re-secure cabinet hinge, etc etc. the little stumping things our kids don’t know that we take for granted. From what I read here, sounds like it is in great need
No, these are not skills teachers should have to cover during instructional time. Teachers have academic skills they need to cover. Life skills come from the home- I.e. basic manners, washing dishes, ironing… Parents need to remember to be actively involved in the upbringing of THEIR children.
Here is a nice bone for y’all to chew on that say u need to learn all that at home. I grew up without a home without parents that could care less if I live or die I was an orphan for the first 13 years of my life I grew up in Ukraine I hate talking about it but this is getting under my skin.
I’m 32 now and thanks to a family that did adopt me but I learned how to do all it on my own by the time I was 13 I could iron,make dinner, laundry light and dark, buttons stitching patches, how to grow my own food veggies and fruits I did not have mom or dad to teach me I had help from teachers people in the community but not parents
One thing that so many parents can’t teach their children is respect and responsibility in this day and age kids they expect everything on a silver platter just like their parents
Only hope we do have is our teachers to do the best they can with disrespect and rudeness
My daughter is about to be 12 and I homeschool her and she will get your belly full while talking politics and how to start a garden in the back yard for no cost to ur bank
Thank your teachers and I’m sure after the covid19 u really will love ur teachers in the fall
You’re right! I think good teachers are able to see where there are certain life skills that are missing in their students lives. And these teachers sometimes go above and beyond the required curricula to help their students out. I know of some urban school programs that have reintroduced home economics classes for this same reason. God bless home econ teachers!
Parents should be teaching their children everything they can! When kids get to school, they should have a base on which teachers can build. The more they learn at home, the more they are able to learn at school. High schools are intended to prepare students academically. Parents are responsible for the rest. What classes should a child take to learn manners, laundry, dish washing, and self defense? Most schools do not have the budgets necessary to include home economics as a course these days. And with our current national situation, it is obvious how much teachers already do for other people’s children. Parents need to step up! Great list, by the way. My children all had to learn how to look people in the eyes, shake someone’s hand, and change a tire as well.
The schools need to teach things they need to know in life how many of us actually use what they taught I’m talking about high school. We had home ex, shop, votech school, typing, computer class, business math not algebra we could choose.
These are skills that should be taught at home. Not just in school. Is the parents responsibility to be sure their children are prepared for the world.
some should be taught in schiol i took cooking in jr hugh and loved it resumes yes school as well but the rest yes taught by parents or a resposible adult ..it doesnt have to be all taught in one day.duh folks its not rocket science. maybe it might bring tbe teen or tween and adult or parent closer Oh God Forbid we wouldbt want that I wish. both of my patents would have done that i had to learn alot of it on my own after I got put in the world ..yes they were both working but they had days off and coukd have spend an hour a week easy but didnt now i am 51 and still learning some of these..yes i was homeless at one time no longer havent been in 12 yrs and still learning so i say this if you dont want to take at least one hour a week to help a child thats your mistake i wish i had that chance.you have no idea how much that 1 hour could mean to that child in the eorld we have today ..and yes i know i have mistakes in my post..that should tell you something..
Hello, i am very proud to say that of the 25 items, our son knows how to do about 22 of them. He learned to change a tire and do an oil change on our vehicles at the age of 7. Checks i dont believe are a “thing” anymore. He does laundry with mommy and cooks with mommy and daddy. He is not from a broken home and im sure that helps. I taught him to tip at an early age as i used to depend on tips. So i am very proud to say, our son is a well rounded very smart young man of 18. Good luck everyone!!
I definitely think they should bring Home Ec. back. Kids should learn these skills. Teachers used to teach them and they still should. Having more personal interraction with kids instead of teaching to test for high scores like most are forced to do. Our school systems are failing, and we need to get a human connection back while teaching useful lifeskills at the same time.
I must politely disagree with you. Teachers have enough on their plates (I am a retired teacher). Too many things that used to be taught at home are now being expected of our school systems. We need to bring parents back into the picture and have them be responsible for raising their children!
This is the one that I will reply to as there are others that seem to have this skewed belief regarding teachers. Teachers are not glorified babysitters or nannies. They are highly educated educators. They are not there to teach your child how to wash a dish or make a bed. There was, “once upon a time”, home-ec teachers who did teach overall skills, but not the teachers of today. To think that on top of educating your child they are to do your job too, is unconscionable; it’s arrogant.
Do your job and let the teachers to do theirs.
There are plenty of teachers who don’t do their jobs. They’re there for a paycheck and summers off and that’s it. The profession isn’t what it used to be. That being said, the education system has failed many. Kids are still learning now, what I learned 40+ years ago. Really? Education needs to evolve, it’s more than just test scores. Look at Japan’s education system and see the difference. Yes, Americans take primary education for granted. Technical trades need to be taught in school again. I took home economics and it was a valuable class to have.
Unfortunately so many kids come from broken homes so there isn’t that unity with the parents in teaching valuable life skills. It just isn’t done anymore, at least not on the norm. Teachers have enough on their plate? Teachers are being programmed to teach so that test scores are higher, they basically teach test taking and scores. Educators need to relearn how to be teachers and how to make a difference in a child’s life. Stop the pity party with the “teachers have enough to do” attitude.
I don’t devalue educators, there are several in my family.
Let’s put the kids first before thinking of our feelings and how we’re made to feel. Education and teaching is a teachers job, no matter the subject they are teaching.
Sorry honey. But 8f you are a real parent you teach yout child basic life skills from the age of 2! You start by getting your child to pick up their toys and put their plates in the sink. Let them dress themselves. Let them help sweep with their own little broom and dust pan set.
By the time my children were 7 or 8 they were cooking on the stove baking biscuits (homemade) cooking homemade spaghetti sauce, and keeping the house clean. When my children left home they knew how to change a tire wiper blades put gas in the car check the oil and drive a car truck tractor or van. They also knew how to write a check and budget their money. I hope and pray the parents start raising the kids right again 1 day.
I don’t think schools should be parenting the world’s children. Be a parent!
Somewhere on this list I wish I would have been taught how to deal with emotions especially. Negative ones! What my skills and talents were and how to communicate effectively!
Hi this is a very useful article thank you. One dont always think of all of this and I agree kids have to be life trained.
I think making phone calls should also be on the list. Most teens text—-not talk. Can they call and make a doctors appointment, speak with customer service, schedule haircut or auto repair? It will be out of their comfort zone for sure. Start with ordering a pizza by phone and not online. And receiving phone calls should be practiced as well. Who knows when they may get called by a prospective employer to come in for an interview or have phone pre-screening.
Really important point, that last one! I don’t know how many graduates cannot answer a phone call, take a message, or call and leave a coherent message either in person or on an answer machine! The rest of the list I agree with, and I have another to add for outside of the US, taking public transport! So many children here in the UK get ferried around and when they go off to college or uni, they have no idea how to catch a bus or get on a train! Doh! But we forget, if they’ve not been shown, they don’t learn it by osmosis!
I definitely agree that this is one important item to add to the excellent list. Verbal coherent communication in the younger generations is significantly lacking. Technology has taken the place of meaningful conversations between people. I grew up in a home with two working parents (one who was chronically ill) and teaching all of the items listed above occurred through small steps depending on our ages. They weren’t taught over a weekend or a day, but by example and reinforcing and adding to the tasks taught as we matured and could handle more responsibility. Learning to cook, clean, laundry, etc. were taught by helping out with what we could depending on our developmental skills. People have thrown responsibility for raising their children onto society. They expect teachers to not only educate them, but completely prepare them for life. This is ridiculous and not what teachers were educated for. “Society” also expects doctors to be responsible for ensuring parents are educated on the “common sense” ways to feed, care for, keep safe, and prevent injuries, among many other things, removing responsibility from parents! These younger generations need to start taking responsibility as parents back rather than expecting others to do it for them – regardless of their own upbringing. It needs to start somewhere!!!
I think you make some excellent suggestions. When I was young in the UK we had something called, home economics. We learned how to cook, clean, do some simple budgeting, childcare, and a few other things. They were pretty useful skills. I think a lot of people in the comments just don’t get that sometimes parents – single or otherwise, are too busy trying to earn money for food and bills to teach their kids life skills. Not everyone has the luxury to devote time to these essential skills. Great article.
I like the point “How to Keep a Plant or Animal Alive”. I wish I could have used that knowledge 20 years ago when all my plants in my rented apartment were dying because I’m a terrible gardener 🙂
I believe that it is necessary to prepare the child for an independent life. If teaching a teenager how to cook and do laundry is still possible, then how to make him an interested learner, I don’t know.
I am actually working on a possible online course for these types of life skills to be included where there are videos, easy checklists to follow and how to access government/other services (budgeting, health care, housing/rentals, tax) . As a parent, would you be happy to pay a small fee to round up your child’s education before they go into the the world?
Thank you so much for these awesome tips! We want to teach our teens to be a bit more self-reliant. Can’t wait to dive a little deeper into your suggestions.
Great! post it added value to my life.