launch your teens with life skills
Updated: Mar 27
"The teen years are not a vacation from responsibility. They are the launching pad of life." Alex and Brett Harris
We need to prepare our teens with life skills for the real world so they become independent thinkers, motivated and engaged young adults who push through setbacks and take ownership of their lives.
Here are 3 areas to consider:
1. Give responsibility that reflects the real world:
Let`s begin with chores. Chores are good for them so give regular chores. Chores teach that life is not about "me." Others are affected by my actions. When I don’t clean the bathroom, someone else must use a dirty bathroom. Each family member has a responsibility towards one another and all members need to work together for family unity. We all have a part to play and when someone is not towing the line, everyone suffers. This is what happens in any organization or business in the real world. Teens need to learn cooperation early on and not suffer the consequences of losing their job for lack of participation when they enter a future work position.
Additionally, we do not pay our sons for doing their chores in our home. No one pays me for cooking for my family. No one pays me for doing the grocery shopping. Why should some members get paid and others not? It`s up to each family to decide what works best but if we want to teach our children about the real world of work, then let`s start training them with these life concepts early on. One day when they are running their own homes, they can pay others for cleaning but with that comes affordability and a cost.
2. Skin in the game won`t harm them:
Indulging your teens without some skin in the game will have some consequences. Let them buy their own cell phones or contribute to the monthly costs or save some money to make a contribution. This will also allow them time to wait for something they really want. Delayed gratification helps them learn patience and appreciation. Help them understand the real costs in the real world.
Teach the value of things; it takes hard work to buy nice things. My son saved up for 18 months to buy his first camera at 16. It was his most memorable purchase. I asked him what made it his most memorable purchase and he replied: "because it took so long." In the real world, parents put a lot of skin in the game so their teens can have (nice) things!
Skin in the game teaches valuable life skills - how to save, budget, plan ahead, spend wisely. When it comes to credit cards, we have taught our boys two principles: "Spend money that you have." Most American families spend money they don`t have. They rely heavily on credit cards and then get into serious debt. If you don`t have it in your bank account, then you don`t have it to spend. Second: "Only use credit cards to build a credit score and to earn rewards, not primarily for spending.“ Paying off credit cards at the end of the month with "money that they have in their bank accounts" will also earn them rewards. Encourage living within their means.
3. Help them with self-regulation:
“The adolescent brain is like a Farari with faulty brakes, the impulsive risk-taking part goes very fast and the judgment part of the brain is lacking.” Madeline Levine, psychologist.
The prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part (good judgment, awareness of long-term consequences, self regulation) isn’t fully developed until the age of 25. An adolescent processes information more with the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain. We need to give teens opportunities to practice self-regulation and self-control so the prefrontal muscles can get a work out.
Self-regulation involves controlling our