How to teach independent living skills to teens

Updated March 23, 2017

One of the most important tasks a parent faces is teaching a teenager independent living skills. Independent living skills are anything and everything your child needs to learn in order to live successfully on his own. Independent living skills include time management, how to handle money, personal safety, personal hygiene and how to complete every day tasks such as washing dishes, doing laundry or paying bills. There are a variety of ways you can instil independent living skills in your child and have fun while doing so.

Practice daily skills together. Include your teenager in your daily activities and explain what you're doing. For example, when you do a load of laundry, encourage your child to help and explain how to sort the clothing and measure the detergent. When you take your vehicle to get the oil changed, bring your teenager along so she can learn how to select a mechanic and how to keep her car properly maintained. Have your teenager help you balance your checkbook and pay bills so he can learn how to budget for utilities and other expenses.

Read a book together about basic independent living skills. Borrow a book from your local library or browse online to find something that offers a variety of information to your child. A book is especially useful because your child can keep it for future reference. If he has a question about something and is unable to reach you, he can skim the book to find the information he needs.

Take a skills class together. Many organisations, including the American Red Cross and local universities, offer independent living skills classes. These skills classes may range from first aid to physical fitness to home safety. Select a class you feel would most speak to your teen and enrol in the class together. Not only will you get to spend time learning together, but you will also be able to discuss the class afterward and answer any questions your teen may have.

Volunteer with your teen to help out a friend. Sometimes spending time in a different household offers new perspectives for teens. You can offer to help out an elderly friend or a stay-at-home mom who could use an extra hand around the house. Go with your child to help your friend wash dishes, fold clothing or clean toilets. Your child will be able to practice his new skills while possibly developing some additional ones.

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