life skills to teach your teen

Parenting • Jun 28, 2022

Life Skills to Teach Your Teen

Successful Launch in 10…9…8…7…

“Can you iron?….. Change a tire?…. Fill a prescription?” I ask these questions in rapid-fire to my 17-year-old.

“Mom! I’ll figure it out!” (Rolls eyes and puts headphones back on)

My oldest daughter is a senior in high school this year, and as we look toward becoming more independent in the next few years, my mind is spinning with all the things I need to arm her with before she leaves our house. Whether a child is going to college locally or far away, taking a gap year, or headed into the workforce after high school, having a child heading toward legal adulthood is exciting and a little nerve-wracking at the same time. So I’m on a mission to make a list of important things to teach her before she heads out after high school. Here are some things I have put on the list so far:

  • Managing Medicine and Medical Care: Ok, yes, this is top of the list because of my job, BUT it is true that once a teen reaches 18, they are now responsible for consenting for their own medical care. They also have the right to confidentiality for all their medical information. This means if they have lab testing, those results will be called directly to the patient and cannot legally be released without the patient’s consent. Young adults need to know how to fill or refill a prescription, make a doctor’s appointment, and complete basic paperwork with past medical history, family history, and any allergies. They also need to know the basics of taking other-the-counter medications like Tylenol or ibuprofen.
  • Basic Household Duties: Can your teen prepare basic meals? Do they know how to use the microwave, a dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer? Do they clean up after themselves, or will they be that roommate?
  • Financial Basics: Using an ATM, writing a check, depositing a check, and paying bills are all important basics. Being able to make a budget and manage expenses should be a goal as well.
  • Managing Transportation – Cars, Buses, Trains: Recently, my driving-age teen let us know that the low oil light had come on. Um, that’s a light that shouldn’t be coming on. Just before the engine burned up, we added oil, and after that, we took the opportunity to check in on car maintenance. Teach car-driving teens about oil changes and adequate oil levels, battery replacement basics, how to use jumper cables, check tire pressure, and monitor fluid levels and tire treads. Also, understanding how to navigate public transportation may come naturally for teens who have experience reading bus and train routes, but other teens who have not done this on their own may need some practice runs.
  • How to Get Help: No one plans to have a mental health crisis but being prepared ahead of time in case one happens can be life-saving. Make sure teens know how to reach out for help at their school’s student health center or even through texting/calling a hotline. For teens with a history of mental health concerns, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) recommends creating a crisis plan that includes:
    • Contact information for your current mental health providers
    • A list of current medications (including dosage)
    • Contact information for your pharmacy
    • Notes on your medical history, including physical health conditions

I have also started a list for myself. It is short but seems to feel still challenging. Here it is so far:

  • Make sure she knows how much I love her.
  • Try to let go.