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10 Life Skills Every Teen Should Learn

My oldest daughter starts high school in 3 weeks. Enter panic mode.

Not only am I officially old enough to have a freshman, but it has suddenly occurred to me I have a mere 4 years to teach her everything she needs to know to live in the adult world. I remember when 18 years seemed like a really, really long time.

Now, it feels like she’s all grown up and doesn’t need me anymore. Luckily, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. We’ve moved past tying shoes and losing teeth and onto digital footprints and college prep. Which includes teaching her the real, independent life skills she’ll need to live on her own.

Here are 10 things I want to be sure she knows before she moves away:


  • Paying Bills 1 of 10
    Paying Bills
    Learning to not just write checks but keep track of bills and get them paid on time was a bit of a challenge at first. It's a shock to the system, for college kids who've never paid a dime towards cost of living. The teen is already learning this skill with her portion of our cell phone bill — printed and provided to her each month — while she still has someone around to nag her to pay it on time.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user carbonnyc
  • Budgeting 2 of 10
    Budgeting
    Setting a budget is no easy task, but it's especially difficult for young adults who've never had one before. I've been working with the teen on this one recently. She has a habit of spending money because it's there, then having none with the cell phone bill arrives!
    Photo Credit: 401K Calculator
  • Scheduling 3 of 10
    Scheduling
    She's been learning to use an assignment calendar to keep up on homework, but I'm working on adding in a bit more time management — like noticing that she needs to finish that project a couple days early if she plans to spend the weekend at Grandma's.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user jimceballos
  • Meal Planning 4 of 10
    Meal Planning
    My girls have been helping with menu planning recently. I've found that it helps with getting them to eat appropriate foods, if they had a hand in choosing them. And, learning how to stop the "what's for dinner?" drama from the start is a necessary skill.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user perspicacious
  • Grocery Shopping 5 of 10
    Grocery Shopping
    I've had a brief window of shopping alone once my oldest babysits on grocery days. I'll be back to taking them with me soon, though, because there is much I still need to teach her. Vital things like deal shopping, choosing the best checkout lane, and snagging long-dated milk!
    Photo Credit: Flickr user pswansen
  • Cooking 6 of 10
    Cooking
    We started with simple, one-dish meals like tacos, but I've recently been teaching the teen a few more cooking skills — following recipes, timing each dish to be ready on time, etc. The other day, she even had a lesson on using the gas grill, grilling our pizzas entirely on her own!
  • Laundry 7 of 10
    Laundry
    She's been washing her own clothes for a couple years now, but I still have a lot to teach her. Like, putting them away when you're finished. We'll also work on stain removal and ironing.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user averagejane
  • Car Care 8 of 10
    Car Care
    Even before she learns to drive, I want her to have some basic car care skills, in case she ends up stranded with a friend. Drivers of any age should know how to check oil, change a tire, and jumpstart a battery.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user pagedooley
  • Computer Skills 9 of 10
    Computer Skills
    As a millennial, she's pretty much grown up on a computer, but I know there's still a lot we've always handled for her. She'll need to learn how to set up a secure password, scan for viruses, replace the printer ink, update software, and keep her data backed up.
    Photo Credit: Flickr user computermonger
  • Voting 10 of 10
    Voting
    She knows the basics of the political system, because we've always involved our kids in the process (that's one of ours recording my vote!), but there's a lot she won't even learn in a government class. I'll help her register as soon as she's 18, then work with her to figure out where her ideas fall, how to research candidates, and fact-checking speeches, so she'll be ready to vote in the next election.

What do hope to teach your kids before they’re on their own?

Follow Heather on Twitter, Pinterest, and her blogs.

More from Heather:
Yesterday She Was a Baby
The Talk 2.0

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