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Life Skills Your Teen Needs to Be Independent

Parents, Help Teens Be Successful at Living Independently


Mixed race teenager loading car for college.
Blend Images - Terry Vine/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
If your parenting goes as normally planned, your teen or young adult will at some point leave home and live independently. Life Skills will help your teen be independent and able to live on their own, which is the goal of a successful young adult and their parents. But it isn't easy. Older teens often feel they can take the big step towards independent living without possessing all of the life skills they will need to succeed in the world at large. Therefore, they start out at an disadvantage by not getting the confidence a person gains by learning an independent living skill and not having the ability to do the life skill. This makes the transition from a teen at home to their life as a young adult harder. Sometimes it's so hard, they come back home. If you are raising foster teens or teens in a children's home - as I have - coming back home isn't an option. With my own children, it is an option, but not one I want them to take.

You can help your teen be independent by encouraging good habits and helping them learn the life skills it takes to be independent. Here I have listed fifteen life skills your teen will need to learn in order to be successful at living independently the first time they are on their own:

  1. The Ability to Cope with Loneliness
    Coping with loneliness is a very important skill on my list of needed independent living skills for teens because every teen I've ever known has needed it. Teens who know how to recognize loneliness as the temporary feeling it is, use their support system and work through their loneliness do just fine.
  2. Finding and Keeping a Job Skills
    In order to live independently, your teen will need to have a job. The job will need to make enough money to cover their living expenses, at minimum. Today's happy young adult has a job that contributes to a high quality of life and not just monetarily. Here are the skills your teen will need to have in order to find and keep jobs that contribute to a high quality of life.
  3. The Ability to Procure and Cook Food
  4. Health and Hygiene Skills
    In order for your teen to be happy while they live independently, they will need to be successful at keeping their bodies healthy and clean. These life skills are taught throughout your teen's childhood and adolescence by encouraging good hygiene routines and healthy habits.
  5. Transportation Skills Or The Ability to Get from One Place to Another
    One life skill that teens need to learn to become independent but generally leave to their parents or caregivers, is transportation or getting from Point A to Point B. Here is a list of transportation lessons - and experiences if you can swing it - that your teen will benefit from learning now, while you are still able to help.
  6. General Housekeeping Skills
  7. Money Skills
  8. Interpersonal Skills
  9. Goal Setting and Obtaining Skills
    Defining what it is you want is called setting a goal. Figuring out and taking the actions you need to get your goal is how you obtain that goal. Both of these are important life skills. Learning how to set and obtain a goal are necessary life skills your teen will need to be a happy and successful adult.
  10. Ability to Find Housing
  11. Time Management Skills
    When teens learn how to use their time wisely, they not only get more tasks accomplished, they feel good about themselves and their abilities. Learn how to teach your teen personal time management skills.
  12. The Ability to Find What You Need in Your Community
  13. The Ability to Deal with Emergencies
    When your team has to deal with an emergency, there will be no time for them to think. Therefore, it is imperative parents take the time to teach their teens how to deal with emergencies while they are at home– and I'm talking more than just knowing how to dial 911. Here is some advice on how to do just that.
  14. Stress Management Skills
  15. Personal Safety Skills
Does your teen need to know all of ins and outs of each skill well? No. Your teen may even get by not having to know one particular skill at all. For instance, a young man who has no idea how to do laundry may have a girlfriend who does. This young man may be able to get his interpersonal skills to help with his household skills by convincing his girlfriend to help with his laundry. But, do your best at teaching your teen each skill as if they will need it. This will give them the greatest chance of being successful at living independently the first time they live on their own.

Quick Links: Quiz: Is Your Teen Independent?

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