Adult Skills

Royalty free photo via Morguefile

Royalty free photo via Morguefile

Are young people these days less prepared for adult life than previous generations? Are they as helpless as the examples we read about day to day? Have parents spent too much time helicoptering, and not enough time releasing our kids into stages of independence? We all want to equip our kids for healthy adulthood. But how? Want your kids to fare better?


Adult Skills every parent should begin to teach long before kids leave home:


Academic and Work Skills:

Employers complain that young people these days need too much babysitting.

Most parents are focused on teaching academic and work skills throughout childhood. You probably teach your kids to complete homework promptly and to always do their best. It is also important to take time to teach your kids to do things parents typically do for them up until the move out: Teach them how to get themselves up each day and out the door, be punctual, stay on task, and pay attention to details so they are better equipped for adult careers. Volunteering or working part time can help older children build these skills further.


Psychological Skills:

Older co-workers say young adults are whiney and that they complain too much.

Every child needs to develop the ability to identify emotions, self soothe, exhibit self-control of inner emotional states, wait patiently, solve problems, delay gratification, tolerate uncomfortable feelings, and maintain control of behavior. Adults with well-developed emotional/psychological skills know how to walk away from a fight and how to exit an out of control social situation. You’ll want to teach these skills during the teen years, your kids will need them!


Domestic and Maintenance Skills:

Many young people grow up with parents handling all the domestic work for them, while they focus on school.

Basic cooking, auto maintenance (like learning when the car should be serviced and how to change a tire), laundry, cleaning skills for a dorm room or apartment, and handling small household emergencies like a clogged toilet are many of the skills necessary to teach so children are prepared when it’s time to leave the nest. Consider asking your children to assist with household tasks or assign them as chores. They are better off learning these skills with your support, rather than making costly mistakes through trial and error later.


Financial skills:

Too many young people leave home without financial skills.

Before leaving home, children need practice budgeting, managing money, balancing a checkbook, saving for emergencies, maintaining bank accounts, and paying bills. You might start with a piggy bank, progress to a savings account, and then perhaps help your child open his or her first checking account. If your kids are planning on going to college and you’ll help financially, include them in the budgeting process while you determine how to use the funds.


Self-Care Skills:

Since Mom and Dad won’t be there, young adults need to know how to take care of themselves.

We take care of our kids emotionally while they live at home, but they will need to be ready to take the reins of self-care when they start adult lives. It is important to teach children how to take care of themselves. Kids should be equipped to say no, and be assertive. They also need to practice asking for help. Most children need to learn to be in a quiet place to re-group, talk or write about difficult problems, and to plug into a faith community for support.


Medical Care Skills:

Self-care includes basic medical care.

Every adult needs to have healthcare knowledge to be capable of giving a medical history, filling a prescription at a pharmacy, or knowing how to self-diagnose simple illnesses, use a thermometer, and take over-the-counter medications. As your kids progress to their teen years, be sure to instruct them on how to access health care services and how to nurture themselves through minor ailments at home.


Friendship and Interpersonal Relationship Skills:

Manners matter at any age.

Good social skills and manners go a long way. Children should know how to carry on a conversation with a person of any age. They should be good judges of character. They should learn to speak up, stand up for a friend, keep a secret (and when to refuse to keep a secret when doing so could hurt someone), ignore bad behavior, and to confront someone who is out of line. Likewise they need to learn to really listen, admit fault and apologize, talk out a conflict with a friend (or roommate, significant other, or co-worker), say I love you, and hug.


Romantic and Intimate Relationship Skills:

A break-up shouldn’t set a young adult completely off course.

Many parents cringe at the idea of their children beginning to date. But dating under parental supervision can teach kids skills they’ll need for healthy long-term partnerships. Teen dating can help kids learn to distinguish between love and infatuation. They can learn to ask someone to dance, navigate romantic feelings, and eventually to break up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. They can also learn to cope with rejection, say no, and control the urge to advance physical relationships too quickly.


If you can teach your skills these skills in childhood, they will be much better equipped when it is time to move out and begin adult life on their own.


Posted on May 2, 2016 .