Most Important Life Skills for Teens
Teens should focus on developing skills that will last them a lifetime, not just on getting good grades in high school and into a top college.
High school should be a time when teens learn how to become independent, productive members of society who know how to both survive and thrive without help. While the high school itself helps teens develop some of these life skills and responsibilities, it’s not enough to mold them into the successful adults they should become.
It is the responsibility of parents and guardians to help teenagers develop the skills they need to be successful in the future through non-academic activities and involvement in extracurricular pursuits.
If you know the various skills your teen needs to cultivate, it is easy to find opportunities to help hone each valuable trait.
Decision Making Skills
Most adults work in some form of business; as an employee, employer, or entrepreneur. Teens should start developing valuable business skills early in their life. Once they get their first job or internship, they’ll be exposed to the real world, and the more business skills they have, the better off they’ll be.
The ability to make decisions is a key business skill that is often overlooked. In school, at work and in life in general, it is important for people to be able to take in information, analyze a situation and make the best decision based on what they know.
Being involved in debate teams or programs such as Beta Bowl, in which teens plan, build, and launch their own business, can help develop the skill of reasoning. This is because these activities require teens to use their research abilities, analytical thinking, and inductive reasoning to come to important decisions.
Students who are involved in extracurricular activities can improve their skills and have something to show college admissions officers that demonstrate each quality that makes a successful applicant.
Analytical skills are important for students to have in order to be successful in school and in the business world. Business is not just about memorizing facts and repeating information, it is also about making complex decisions.
In many business situations, it is important to be able to analyze the situation objectively and come up with the best course of action. This requires being able to look at all the potential paths forward and choosing the one that is most likely to lead to success.
A great way to develop analytical abilities is to work on group projects, solve problem cases, and do extracurricular activities that require these skills.
Our entrepreneurial programs can help your teen develop more life and business skills. For more information, visit Beta Bowl.
It is crucial for teenagers to learn how to be adaptable as it will help them succeed in college, their career, and life in general.
In business, there will always be a range of challenges and changes that your child will face in the future, whether as an intern, employee, or boss. Teens need to be equipped with the skills and experience to handle difficult situations. The idea is to teach them to adapt to the changes and unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations that they could face in the workforce.
One way to help your teen become more adaptable is to encourage them to think about possible problems they might encounter in any situation and come up with a few possible solutions.
At Beta Bowl, we train our students to be prepared for anything by teaching them to come up with multi-faceted strategies and solutions. This way, if any unforeseen issues come up, they will be able to adjust or pivot. In business and life, we often have to roll with the punches, and the most successful people are the ones who can think ten steps ahead and avoid getting shaken by obstacles when they appear.
Thinking on Your Feet
Sometimes, the best way to respond to a problem is to think quickly and come up with a solution on the spot. This is a skill that teens should learn to develop.
At some point, your child will probably be given a question or problem with no time to prepare. This might happen in a high school or college class, during a discussion of a thesis paper, at a debate team meeting, or in a real job. The more practice your child has in thinking on their feet, the better they will do in these situations.
The best way to improve your child’s ability to make fast decisions is to expose them to real-life or simulated scenarios that require immediate responses. You can do this through extracurricular activities, family debates, or board games that require this type of quick-thinking action. By providing these opportunities, you can help your child better prepare for the types of situations they are likely to face in the real world.
Self-confidence is trusting in oneself and having a sense of control in one’s life. It improves the quality of our lives and is the basis for nearly every other life skill. Creating an environment where your teenager can develop this confidence in their own opinions, abilities, and talents will be useful to them for the rest of their lives.
Self-confidence is built from internal and external sources.
- External sources may include your teen’s academic performance, the praise and approval of others, and their own appearance.
- Internal sources may include independent thinking and moral behavior or being what they consider to be a good person.
It isn’t enough to tell your child how wonderful they are; they have to believe it themselves and internalize it. So, here are several ways to help your teen develop self-confidence:
- Love them unconditionally. Ensure that your teen knows that your love and approval do not depend on their grades, behavior, or other factors.
- Allow for failure. When things don’t go well, be assured that you (and your teen) can rebound and still enjoy success at the things that are important.
- Praise their process. Acknowledge all the work and effort your teen puts into achieving their goals, not just the final outcome.
- Encourage self-compassion. Teach them by word and example to treat themselves kindly.
- Embrace a growth mindset in your home. Be a family that believes you can continue to grow and expand who you are and what you can do.
- Listen to their opinions and ask for their advice. This will demonstrate that what they think and have to say is of value.
Successful entrepreneurs are problem-solvers. This skill is needed for the conception, building, and maintaining of your teen’s business. Critical thinking is essential to being an effective problem-solver. This skill may be developed in your teen by questioning them in ways that show them how to evaluate their situation and make sound judgments. You may need to prompt ideas if they’re stuck or about to make a significant error. You may feel tempted to step in and solve their problems, and you may have to if things become severe. But it is more valuable to them to come up with their own solutions while knowing that you are there for them.
If you participate and ask questions, it will show that you care and keep the problem at the forefront of their minds until they are able to do it themselves.
The ability to see something that must be accomplished and take positive action to address it is a valuable skill. Entrepreneurs are people who see problems and set out to find solutions that will help others. Your teen will need to learn to spot opportunities and see situations from different perspectives. After that, your teen will need to be brave enough to take action.
You demonstrate initiative to your teen by being an example in your own life. Your teen is likely to model their behaviors after what they see from you, so it’s important to show them what taking initiative looks like.
It is important for teens to become independent, confident, and self-reliant as they approach college and adulthood.
The move from high school to university can be a big change for students, who suddenly have a lot more independence. It’s important to encourage your child to be independent as they approach college, so they can manage their own needs and schedule.
Make sure your children are able to do simple things like make their lunch and manage their schedules. However, don’t shy away from more challenging tasks like having them push themselves to do independent projects, participate in community service, get a job or internship, or even embark on an entrepreneurial project.
For example, teens who start businesses in high school understand what it means to be independent and self-reliant due to the experience of being responsible for an entire company. This is both a great way to cultivate that independence and confidence, combined with exciting activities that will help them shine on college applications and differentiate them from their peers.
“The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.” – Bernard M. Baruch
“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln
If you want to help your teen avoid financial stress and money management problems, you should start teaching them these skills now.
It is important for teenagers to learn about budgeting and the difference between necessary and discretionary expenses. Furthermore, they should also be aware of the reason for saving and the value of it. Additionally, they should understand the unique value of cash, debit, and credit cards.
If you can help your teen open a bank account while they’re in high school, this is a great learning opportunity to allow them to manage the account. You can review their monthly statements with them and impart ongoing wisdom. This is also a great option if they have a job or receive some type of allowance, so they can begin practicing smart money management skills now.
You don’t have to tell your teen every detail about your family’s finances, but it’s a good idea to be honest with them. Talk to them about your money values, how you view savings, how you use credit, and how they can prepare for financial independence in the future.
(Be sure to check out our fun and accessible finance course for teens, pre-teens, and young adults at Learning Financial Independence)
It’s helpful for us to focus more on teaching organizational skills to teenagers as they are just as crucial for success as learning basic arithmetic. However, as it is a “soft skill”, it doesn’t always receive as much emphasis as it should until it becomes a problem.
This problem can show up in college students who feel overwhelmed and disorganized, or in employees who don’t perform well because they forget to do tasks that weren’t on their to-do list. The solution is to stop the problem before it starts, and make sure your child is good at organizing things.
You can help your teen get better organized without being a drill sergeant about cleanliness. Just tell them they need to take responsibility for their things, their schoolwork, and their schedule.
Use this opportunity to also share examples of highly successful people who have chosen very strict or straightforward methods of organization to minimize the amount of time they spend making decisions. Explain to your teen how, by making organization a habit, they will have more time to focus on both work and fun. Let them know that, with an organized mindset, they can achieve success and have more free time to do whatever they please.
Though they may seem basic, listening skills are still critical, and something students might not completely understand while in school. Obviously, students have to listen to their parents but it’s also necessary for them to listen to their siblings and friends and grasp different perspectives.
After they finish college and start their careers, they’ll be around a lot more people with different backgrounds and perspectives. The ones who do well in both their personal and professional relationships are the ones who’ve mastered the ability to listen to others, take other people’s opinions into account, and respond without much prejudice or judgment.
We can help our teens develop these skills by discussing controversial issues with them, explaining different viewpoints, and emphasizing the importance of considering diverse perspectives.
Coping with ‘Negative’ Emotions
A question that is often asked on college applications, job interviews, and prompts is “tell me about a time you failed and how you dealt with the failure?” This is not a mistake, and the reason universities and employers want to know this is because they want to see how the candidate deals with difficult or negative situations and emotions.
An applicant who wants to be successful should have multiple stories about times when they failed but used the negative emotions to fuel their success.
Parents can help their children to develop a more positive outlook on life by supporting them during difficult times and encouraging them to use setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. Additionally, parents can explain to their children that dwelling on negative emotions will only make them feel worse in the long run. Instead, they should focus on moving forward and strive to achieve their goals and enjoy the positive emotions that come with success.
Life Skills Every Teen Should Learn
Life skill #1: How to do the laundry
Start with basics like sorting colors and reading labels. Discuss why some clothing items should be washed differently. Teach teens how to use a washing machine and dryer, including what each button is for and how the timing works. Cover the benefits of air drying and the differences between detergent, fabric softener, bleach, and stain remover. Reinforce the importance of finishing what you start.
Life skill #2: How to shop for groceries
The best way to teach your children how to grocery shop is to invite them to go with you. Show them how to develop a shopping list by looking at what you’ve already got on hand. Deepen the learning by discussing the concept of meal plans and nutrition considerations. Discuss how to choose the best fruits and vegetables and why the outside aisles of the grocery store are the places to focus your shopping.
Life skill #3: How to cook
Instead of making all the meals yourself, involve your teen in meal prep, cooking, and clean up. Share the cookbooks and online resources you use for recipes and meal ideas. Ask them to find a recipe they’d like to make and coach them through making it. Consider getting them some cookbooks specifically for teens.
It is important for teens to develop a repertoire of recipes because it increases their self-awareness, decision-making, and ability to build relationships. When teens are able to contribute to the household in personalized, independent ways, everyone in the household benefits.
Life skill #4: How to manage money
In order to teach your teen about money, it is important to have conversations with them about finances. It is also helpful for them to have an allowance, budget for things they want, understand how credit cards work, and save money for future expenses. Many adults have had to learn about money management, so it is important to get advice from experts before teaching your teen.
Life Skill #5: How to stay organized
Since teenagers typically need help when it comes to developing organization skills, it is important for parents to offer assistance without taking over. The best way to do this is to start with your teen’s individual traits. For example, if your teen is not naturally inclined to list-making, don’t force it. Instead, suggest using standard phone apps to keep things organized. Some teens do better when they have concrete reminders like Post-It notes or task lists on paper. The goal is to get teens to understand that staying organized is a practiced skill that can improve their lives.