The ultimate goal of teaching life skills to teens is personal independence, but it takes a combination of objectives to get to this point. According to Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., "When kids enter high school, it’s time to decide what responsibilities we want them handling by graduation." Those four years can be very formative for your teen, and making sure he has the life skills he needs by graduation day can be your ultimate goal.
Knowing how to take care of herself and working toward independence will give your teen increased confidence and pride in her newfound abilities. She will feel more mature and capable as she learns new aptitudes and takes on more challenging responsibilities. Instead of picking up after your teen and doing everything for her, you will be giving her an extra boost by teaching and trusting her to take on extra chores and responsibilities in preparation for her later life.
Being able to transport himself, get a job, make appointments and shop for food or clothing will give a teen the essential skills to be self-sufficient. Simple steps such as opening a bank account, changing a flat tire, preparing dinner or washing a load of clothes will start your teen on the beginning tools to become self-sufficient. It is not just the physical aspects of self-sufficiency that are important -- knowing how to deal and interact with others and skills such as managing time are also necessary components of an effective life skills education.
Learning how to become independent will motivate a teen to learn how to perform more tasks on her own. It will become a driving force for her to take on more of her own personal responsibility and care. A small taste of freedom will provide the impetus for even more learning and growth. Support your teen by complimenting her efforts and supporting her when the going gets rough.
The path to true independence for teens is not without its difficulties. Failure and challenges are tools from which young people learn. According to Kenneth Ginsburg, author of "Building Resilience in Children and Teens," "Resilience means having the ability to bounce back from difficulties and handle stressful situations without becoming derailed." Parents, he says, are the key to building this resilience in their offspring by effectively preparing them to live in the real world.