Nobody has a foolproof guidebook to navigating adult life. We all make mistakes and — hopefully — learn from them. Nevertheless, one of the most valuable things you can do as a parent is to help prepare your teen as best you can for the time they leave the nest.
This isn’t about sheltering them from all failure. You want them to have their own experiences and grow from them. Rather, passing on a set of practical and emotional tools can empower them to find their own way in the world.
Let’s look at some of the essential life skills you should teach.
Relationships are among the most challenging aspects of adult life. Every relationship we undertake is different. Each person’s individual needs and emotions influence the journeys we take together. This means there’s never any single “right” way to navigate all relationships. So, how can you possibly hope to prepare your teen?
Well, many of the most important tools for relationships are related to emotional intelligence. Guide your child in developing the following attributes among others:
- Empathy: This is the ability to understand another person’s perspectives and feelings. It is, of course, vital in relationships because it allows one to recognize and respect the different needs of those they interact with.
- Self-awareness: This revolves around a person being aware of their own feelings, moods, and behaviors. Importantly, they recognize how these affect others in a relationship. Self-awareness enables them to communicate more effectively about their needs and manage their emotions.
Alongside these, you’ll need to pay some attention to helping your teen better understand romantic relationships. Teach and reinforce the foundations of mutual respect. Discuss how to approach ensuring all parties are fully able to express their consent.
It’s also really worth remembering that each generation’s views on romantic relationships shift with the times. Take the time to frame your discussions in the context of how your teen is likely to experience relationships. For instance, discuss how dating online affects communicating honestly and openly with romantic partners. Given that many modern couples are postponing marriage, talk your teen through maintaining strong partnerships outside of traditional structures.
Money matters aren’t exactly the most pleasant parts of adult life. Nevertheless, they’re somewhat inescapable. While there can be a great deal of stress around finances, providing your teen with skills here is empowering. The sooner they get practice with responsible attitudes to money, the greater stability they’re likely to have for their future.
Solid financial literacy requires discipline. Money’s not an infinite resource, after all. Teach your teenager the fundamental practices that help them keep track of and control their funds. This can include:
Budgeting: Yes, budgeting is boring. Yet, it is essential for full visibility of what funds a person has available and what resources they must go toward. Show your teenager how to develop a monthly budget and direct their finances in the correct places before spending their disposable income.
Creating an emergency fund: Unexpectedly expensive challenges can lie ahead in life. These could be related to home repairs, medical expenses, and unemployment, among others. Talk to your teen about the importance of directing a portion of their disposable income toward an emergency fund. This helps them to more comfortably navigate difficulties.
Managing credit scores: Having a solid credit score can open up more financial opportunities. This includes loans, mortgages, and business financing. Teach your teen how to responsibly build their score and how disciplined behavior keeps this high.
Alongside these aspects, help your teen grasp the day-to-day financial elements. This may include finding the best deals for everything from weekly grocery shopping to gas prices. Talk them through reducing household overheads, such as more efficient electricity use. Another good topic is how to use a tax calculator. Have them shadow you in your financial activities so they get a practical sense of how they can behave once they strike out on their own.
Not everybody is able to easily navigate interactions with others. This can create hurdles everywhere from the workplace to friendships. Not only is this a practical issue, but not feeling able to communicate can be a huge source of stress and anxiety. This is why it’s so vital to make sure your teen has some communication skills before they fly the nest.
A couple of elements worth focusing on are:
- Active listening: Help your teen to understand that communication isn’t just about making themselves heard. They also need to effectively listen to others. Being an active listener lets them better process the other person’s perspectives and respond in the most appropriate ways. Teach them about being attentive to both the words and emotions of others. Encourage them to repeat back some of the other person’s phrases to show they’ve been listening.
- Reading the room: Different situations require varied approaches to communication. Talk your teen through how to recognize when formal and informal language is most appropriate. Noticing sensitivities and moods in others also lets them adjust their language to different needs.
Simply explaining these elements of communication may not be the best approach. Perhaps devise some role-playing exercises to better demonstrate the points you’re putting across. You should also encourage your teen to practice good communication techniques in everyday life. You can then talk about how this practice affects their understanding of your lessons and how their new communication processes affect how they feel.
The essential life skills you must pass on to your teenager straddle the practical and emotional. Guidance on respectful relationships, solid finances, and effective communication are great places to start. Alongside this, consider giving your teen insights into the mistakes you’ve made in the past. Your struggles and how you’ve navigated them are great resources that they can learn from. Not to mention that this peek into your humanity is relatable, which may strengthen your relationship at this transitional time.
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Guest Author Bio
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but business, technology, and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or getting into the latest tech.