The 4 Basic Life Skills Every Teenager Needs to Know

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Is your teenager ready for the real world? Sure, classroom knowledge has its place, but real-world knowledge is critical for success. And if your teen is like most adolescents, they’re not prepared.

When it comes to using money wisely, an international study found that only 12 percent of teens got the highest score on financial literacy, and a shocking 22 percent scored well below the baseline. But it gets worse. It turns out most students don’t know how to do laundry, change a tire or even do some basic cooking in the kitchen.

Don’t let your teenager be a part of these statistics. As a savvy mom, you can help your children equip themselves with practical life skills that set them up for a life of independence and success.

1. Budgeting and Financial Literacy

Learning how to manage their money wisely will help your teenager to save for important purchases, build a good credit score and avoid the stress that comes from living paycheck to paycheck. Help your teen create a simple budget using the basic envelope method. When money comes in, they allocate it to different envelopes that represent different spending categories. This helps them visualize their budget and get used to controlling their spending.

Other financial skills they should be proficient in include how to open and use a bank account, how to write a check and how to use a credit card and pay it off on time.

2. Automobile Know-How

According to a study conducted by Michelin, 49 percent of teens felt unprepared by their driver’s education, and many of them had no idea how to do basic car maintenance like checking the oil or inspecting the tire pressure of their car.

Give your child resources like free DMV practice tests that thoroughly educate them on road safety. Invite them to go to the mechanic the next time you bring your car in, and explain basic maintenance issues that they need to review regularly. Car maintenance and safe driving isn’t just about saving money, but also about saving lives.

3. Making a Meal

When your teenager goes off to college, don’t let them be the stereotypical starving student surviving on cereal and microwaved noodles. Walk them through the basics of the kitchen — what supplies should always be on hand, how to review a recipe and make a grocery list, and the basics of measurements and cooking. Mail-order cooking boxes, where the meal’s raw ingredients come right to your door in pre-portioned servings with an easy-to-follow recipe, may make for a great introduction for teenagers.

4. Navigating the Laundry Room

It’s a running gag in TV comedies when the clueless person doesn’t sort their laundry and everything in their load comes out pink. But there’s nothing funny about that in real life. While you might feel tempted to nag your teen about their dirty laundry, try to encourage them so that they see it as a quick and necessary task rather than a grueling chore. Show your child the basics of sorting laundry by color and fabric, and how to run a washer and dryer. Then watch them do it themselves to ensure they know what to do.

Does your teen have these skills? Do YOU? I admit I know nothing about cars, but Teacher take care of the cars and I take care of the laundry. It’s a win-win deal for both of us!

Amy Sue

One Comment

  1. This is something schools, especially in the secondary level, should consider putting in to their curriculum. These are skills that I wished I learned from school than the hard way. But yeah no regrets. Still, teenagers should know these whether from their parents or from schools.

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