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Activities That Teach Life Skills & Values to Teenagers

by Rosenya Faith

Jobs and careers, the type of person she becomes, the doors that are open to her -- all are affected by her character and skills. Encourage your teen to become a happy, successful, contributing member of society by incorporating activities that help her develop constructive life skills and values.

Volunteer Work

Kindness, charity, patience, organization, leadership, teamwork and community activism are some of the many lessons your teen can learn through volunteer work. Encourage him to look for ways to help others by joining a charitable organization. He can befriend and spend time with people who suffer from physical or mental handicaps, the elderly or terminally ill in centers or hospitals. He can babysit for a young mother or help a neighbor with chores around his home. You can also help your book-smart teen get involved with an after-school program teaching and interacting with kids who need extra help and attention. Aside from building character and learning skills, volunteer work will enhance your teen’s college and job applications, which will help his future.

Money Management

If your teen thinks your debit card is a near-equivalent to a money tree, she has no real understanding of money. The best start to learning to manage money is having some. Give your teen odd jobs around the home for pay or help her search for a summer job or part-time work during the school year. This will help her learn how to hunt for jobs and she'll learn the value of a dollar, hard work and fiscal discipline. Once she's earning, show her how to keep a budget and manage a check book. Teach planning for purchases and saving, and discuss banking, loans, interest and investing. Let her help you plan a food budget and shop accordingly. Teaching your teen to properly manage money will help her learn to spend responsibly, which will help her personally and in her career. It will also help her contribute to her college fund.

Home and Personal Care

Teaching your teen home and personal care will help him save money and learn to care for himself. Start with teaching proper diet, the importance of regular exercise and basic hygiene. Teach your teen how to budget for food, plan menus and prepare a meal. Talk to your teen about keeping regular doctor and dental appointments and remembering to fill prescriptions when you aren't there to do it anymore, and remember to discuss health and vehicle insurance. Learning a few basic sewing skills will help make his clothing last when he can repair hemlines and replace buttons on his own, and teaching him how to properly care for laundry will ensure he’s never left wearing yesterday's dirty socks or squeezing into a pair of washer-shrunken pants. Turn household tasks into mom-and-me time, too, working together on chores while ensuring he’s learned the skills necessary for basic home upkeep and maintenance.

Survival Skills

Your teen will most likely find herself in some sort of emergency at some point in her life and learning basic survival and first aid skills could keep her, or someone close to her, safe. If it’s been a while since you took a first aid or survival course, make it a joint project. Start with a basic first aid course, learning to treat stings, cuts and burns, and performing CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. You can enroll your teen in a summer camp or weekend program to learn basic outdoor skills for safety, including reading a compass, using the sun and stars for direction and what to do if you’re lost. Ensure your teen knows how to build a shelter in the wind, build a proper fire, locate water sources, signal for help and what to do when encountering a wild animal. Working with peers in the program will also give your teen an opportunity to develop his teamwork and leadership skills.

References

  • Life Skills 101: A Practical Guide to Leaving Home and Living on Your Own; Tina Pestalozzi
  • Smart but Scattered Teens; Richard Guare Ph.D., et al.

About the Author

Rosenya Faith has been working with children since the age of 16 as a swimming instructor and dance instructor. For more than 14 years she has worked as a recreation and skill development leader, an early childhood educator and a teaching assistant, working in elementary schools and with special needs children between 4 and 11 years of age.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images