Feb 18 2021

The Key to Independence: 8 Life Skills For Teens

Positive Action Staff
It's every youngster’s dream to leave the nest and live on their own once they turn 18. Before you know it, they’ll be driving, graduating, and moving out.

But here’s the thing; adulthood comes with its own new wonders and challenges. Age doesn’t always mean a teenager is equipped to live independently.

From paying taxes and managing a bank account to doing laundry — there’s a lot your teen should know.

As teachers and caregivers, it’s our job to teach teens the life skills necessary to pull through in the real world.

The Value of Life Skills

The World Health Organization defines life skills as “the abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.”

As teens grow into their independence, they need to learn social-emotional skills. These skills include interpersonal and psychosocial competencies that help people:

  • Solve problems
  • Communicate effectively
  • Make informed decisions
  • Think critically and effectively
  • Empathize with others
  • Build healthy relationships
  • Manage themselves in a healthy and productive way

Pro tip for teachers: Don’t assume a teen already knows every life skill. Answer the questions the teen asks even if they seem like common sense.

A Teacher's Role

Teachers need to talk to parents about the tasks that the parents have control over. Remember, teachers cannot directly intervene in some life skills such as:

  • Household chores
  • Making appointments
  • Emergencies
  • Voting

However, parent-teacher meetings are an excellent place for teachers to raise their concerns about these skills. Students will feel appreciated for the extra care sent their way.

Here are eight necessary life skills teens need to venture into adulthood and how you as an educator can teach them.

Work Skills

A teen may be outstanding in school with a lot of excellent prospects for their future. This is a good thing, but holding down a job is no easy feat.

Workplace rules significantly differ from those in high school. That calls for planning and preparation. Teens will need to know how to:

  • Fill out a job application
  • Prepare for and attend an interview
  • Follow instructions from a supervisor

An easy solution: A summer or part-time job during high school can help teens prepare for the duties of a future career. Teachers should introduce these ideas or even find a list of places for students to choose from where they can work and gain experience.

Household Duties

Teachers need to remind parents and caregivers to teach teens how to manage a household. When a teen eventually moves out to an apartment or dorm room, they need to know how to clean up after themselves.

This is why it's important not to let a teenager off the hook when it comes to chores at home.

Parents, you can ask your teen to make basic meals at home or occasionally make dinner for the family.

Along with this, a teen should learn how to:

  • Do their laundry
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Perform simple repairs

Teachers can be part of this education, too. Take a look at what Fern Creek High School in Kentucky is doing. They’re teaching students how to change a tire.

Money Management Skills

When it comes to skills, teens will learn to appreciate financial know-how above all else. Learning to balance a checkbook or create a budget is nonexistent in most school curriculums, but teachers can make it possible.

A teen needs to know:

  • The importance of investing their money
  • The risks of taking out private student loans
  • The dangers of credit card debt

Have you come across the term ‘boomerang children’?

It's a term that describes the phenomenon of an adult child moving back home to live with their parents. It mainly occurs due to economic reasons that arise after some time of independent living.

By teaching teens the above skills, you can curb the boomerang effect. These skills will help teens establish financial security and influence their overall quality of life.

Under money management, teens should also know:

How to Pay Bills

This ranges from cell phone bills, tuition bills, and the like. As long as a teen is financially responsible for the payments, they need to know how it's done.

Ensure they understand how to access payment portals and set up auto-pay. Similarly, you can advise them to schedule reminders for bill due dates.

Providing a short course teaching them how to do these tasks in schools will prove beneficial. You could even ask the principal for the go-ahead to make it an after-school club.

Goal-Setting Skills

A teen is at a transitional stage of life that is full of dreams and ambitions. Whether it’s a dietary plan or job application, they will need to learn goal-setting skills.

Teach a teen how to identify and establish goals.

Educators can come up with an exercise spanning the course of a month or two. It could involve questions such as:

  • What is my goal?
  • What skills do I have?
  • How can these skills support me in reaching my goals?
  • Is there a program I can use to help me reach my goal?

Help teens plan to take action to reach their goals. Every month, review the plans and show them how to track their progress.

When a teen can do this by themselves, they will be more likely to stay motivated.

Every goal they accomplish will give them the confidence to aim even higher in the future.

Emergency Situations

Life doesn't always go as planned. Being able to think quickly in a crisis is an ace up the sleeve. Emergencies include:

  • Natural disasters
  • A fire
  • Any injury that calls for basic first aid

Teens should learn how to deal with critical situations while they’re still at home.

Although, educators can also teach certain classes such as first aid and response to natural disasters. This way, when teens branch out on their own, they can effectively take care of themselves and others.

Emotional Intelligence and Regulation

Raw talent and skill can only get a teen so far in life. They need to understand how to manage their emotions, too.

Emotions can be diverse and complex. Understanding empathy or dealing with failure comes in handy often. Being able to control their temper will help a teen deal with setbacks.

Similarly, the ability to regulate their anxiety can open up new doors for a teen, out of their comfort zone.

There are numerous healthy ways to deal with uncomfortable emotions.

On the other end of the spectrum, teens also need to learn how to stand up for themselves. There’s a difference between being assertive and being aggressive.

Learning the difference can help a teen thrive! Skills like emotional management are what our life skills program and curriculum strives to incorporate into school environments.


A teen who’s preparing for adulthood will likely have an interest in the political landscape of their state. Politics determines the state of affairs and access to amenities that they will need as college students and throughout adulthood.

It's an educator's role to see to it that a teen fully understands the power of their own vote. Carry out exercises that teach them what privilege is and what life is like for those who don’t have it.

To make it easier for them, talk to parents about their 18-year-old registering to vote before they leave home.

Teachers can share this website with teens to help them locate polling places. For adults, having a say in the electoral process is a crucial life skill. A teen needs to understand the importance of this fully.

Their Adulting Journey

Life skills are necessary for every stage of life. The same way toddlers need to learn gross motor skills, teens need to prepare for their adult life.

Our Thoughts-Actions-Feelings Circle (TAF) works around this philosophy: “We feel good about ourselves when we do positive actions.” As such, we create environments that keep this cycle positive and students passionate about learning.

Our program training services and products are comprehensive and integrated to give you all the help you need.

Life is tough enough — but we can help make it easier. Positive Action is fully equipped to provide teachers with the tools required to build resilience in teens.