What Major Life Skills Do Kids Need Before Leaving Home?

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Every child needs some basic life skills before moving out or they won’t be ready. Let this list put you on the road to making your child’s future bright.

A boy laying in bed with alarm clocks around him and the words What Life Skills Do Kids Need Before Leaving Home

Life Skills For Kids

We all want to do the best for our children. We love them, we care for them, and we try to make their lives the brightest that we can within our abilities. But with that, we sometimes do a little too much. 

Our children need certain practical life skills to get along in the world and it is our job to make sure that we are teaching them. They won’t be home forever – and we need to make sure that they aren’t. 

Trying to figure out what basic life skills to teach your kids can get overwhelming. It can be so much easier if you just do it yourself, but that doesn’t do justice to their future.

The old saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” has stuck around for a reason. The best way to show our young kids how to be independent adults is to teach them the necessary skills. 

Teach Money Management

All kids need to learn to have an appreciation of money. One of the critical life skills that can make things significantly more difficult as we make mistakes, it is a good idea to begin these discussions at an early age. This age-by-age guide for teaching children about money will give you the basic steps to get started. 

Your children need to know everything from how to identify money and save it at a young age to how to balance a checkbook and have a savings account as young adults. This should be an ongoing conversation as things come up in their lives. If grandma gives them money as a gift, show them how to save some and spend some. If they are older kids, talk about what large items they might want to save for in a few years (such as a car). 

Money is going to be a huge part of your child’s life from the moment that they get their first job or get their first credit card. Understanding the value of a dollar is one of the best ways to make sure that your child can ultimately pay their rent, buy their food, pay their bills, and manage their income. If you aren’t able to help them make good decisions in terms of their money management, it can hinder their potential for growth in the future. 

How to Cook

A child isn’t going to get anywhere in their adult life if they never learn how to cook. If they feel that the only way they can feed themselves is by ordering food all of the time, that would negate all of the hard work you put into teaching them about money management.

No one is expecting every child to be a chef, but they should know some basic cooking skills in the kitchen. Teach them how to use the microwave properly (which includes what materials are microwavable and which will explode your kitchen) and work up to using the stove and the oven. 

Consider teaching some basic meals that they can make – sandwiches, fruit salad, ramen noodles, boxed macaroni and cheese, hard-boiled eggs, chicken breasts, and rice – and learn what their talent level is in the kitchen. As long as they can feed themselves, they can explore more extravagant meals later or on their own.

Allow them to make their own lunch. Take them to the grocery store and show them how to shop for food, as well as how to buy things on sale. Encourage them to cook dinner for the family, with adult supervision if needed. And if they are off to college, they can get some more ideas for some easy college meals that are also cheap

How to Care For Their Clothes

Although it may be second nature for you, teaching a child how to care for their clothing is actually an important life skill. They will not have the finances to replace their own clothes like they did when they lived with you, so they need to learn how to manage. 

Show your child how to use a washing machine and dryer properly. Show them some basic sewing skills, such as how to sew on a button or close a tiny hole in fabric. We don’t tend to darn clothing the way they did in past generations, but there is no reason your child should have to throw out a shirt because a button popped off. 

Allow your child to throw their own laundry in the washing machine. Create a rotation of family members so that everyone takes a turn. This is an easy way to make sure that these skills become second nature, and it helps to spread out the responsibility so that it isn’t all on one person. 

How to Talk to Strangers

We typically think of teaching our children about stranger danger as young children, but you also need to teach them how to interact with strangers as adults. From job interviews to basic interactions with people that they meet in their daily life, it’s important kids learn how to develop their communication skills with people they don’t know.

This is not a life skill that you want to teach them when they are three or four (stick with basic stranger danger here), but it is one that they’ll need to learn by the time they enter their tween years.

How do you act when you first meet someone? How do you properly shake hands and make eye contact? What are appropriate subjects to discuss or not discuss? What are the boundaries for consent? How do you respond to questions with good manners?

In the list of life skills, this is one that you will want to continue to teach for many years, reemphasizing the important things. You can practice role-playing at home to develop many of the different ways of communicating with strangers from a young age until the teenage years. Social skills come naturally for some and not as naturally for others, so this can benefit everyone. 

Pretend you are the boss and your child is having an interview. Pretend you are a family member that your child met when they were five, but doesn’t really remember. Pretend that you are a coworker who is trying to get your child to lend money they don’t have. Do your best to allow your child to practice these scenarios so that the first time they encounter them, you are there to help guide them through. 

How to Manage a Day

From the time our children are little, we wake them up, get them ready for the day, make them breakfast, care for their needs, and help to entertain them. But by the time they are in high school, they need to know how to do all of these things themselves.

Make sure that your child has an alarm clock or knows how to use the alarm on their phone. Give them the responsibility of getting themselves up, showered, and ready for the day without you intervening. 

Help them learn about what they may need to eat to start the day right (each person is different and you likely know your child’s fuel better than they do), how much sleep they should be getting (and if they don’t, they still need to go to work/school), how to find the time for school work, grocery shopping, bill paying, and more.

There are countless things that someone needs to learn about time management, but teaching them basic self-care skills will start them off on the right foot. 

How to Be Confident

There is a difference between being cocky and being confident, but you also don’t want to be a pushover. Being able to stand up for yourself is an important life skill that can go a long way. From interactions with peers or strangers, during job interviews, or while making important decisions, finding your confidence is incredibly important, and it is a skill that your child needs.

Let your child know what talents and strengths you see in them. Tell them that they are smart, funny, compassionate, beautiful, strong, and/or any other traits you see. Help them build a foundation of confidence so that when they get out in the world, they have something to fall back on. 

Teach your child how to stand up for themselves without being rude. It can be a fine line that you may want to help them practice, not giving their phone number or walking away when a situation feels uncomfortable or toxic. They will need to pick their battles in life, so while being strong is necessary, it’s not always necessary to win every battle. 

There are a lot of bumps that your child will encounter while on the road to life, but if you can start preparing them early, they won’t be as painful.

There are countless essential life skills kids need to learn before they move out, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. Teach them critical thinking so that they don’t follow the first person who makes a point. Encourage school activities so that they learn to work in groups and abide by a daily schedule. Show them how to use public transportation safely and effectively.

It is never too early to start teaching basic skills and independence, so encourage your small school-age child to pour their own cereal for breakfast or brush their teeth without your asking. When they are older, have them set their alarms for the morning and greet people on the regular. Your job is to help prepare your children to be adults, so taking these steps will help mold your children into independent, well-rounded people by the time they leave your home.

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