How Life Skills Are Important to High School Kids

By K. Nola Mokeyane
Having life skills prepares teens to live independently and make wise choices in adulthood.
Having life skills prepares teens to live independently and make wise choices in adulthood.

Without life skills, such as the ability to keep one's self and environment clean and manage money effectively, teens are ill-prepared for adulthood. Laura Kastner, Ph.D., with Parent, says that teens don't need to be adept at skills, such as problem solving or decision making, considering that their brains don't reach full maturation until their early 20s; however, they should demonstrate progress in these areas in comparison to their earlier childhood years.

Independent Living

High-school teens will likely have tremendous difficulty in life if they don't know how to properly take care of themselves. Whether your teen chooses to go to college, the military or straight into the work force, he'll have to learn how to manage the day-to-day tasks required for independent living. These tasks include maintaining personal hygiene, money management, housekeeping and more. Parents can help their teens strengthen these skills by insisting they do chores in the home, preferably without financial gain as an incentive. In an online "Wall Street Journal" article, Jon Gallo, head of the family wealth practice group Greenberg Glusker in Los Angeles, says that tying financial rewards to family chores fails to develop a strong work ethic in kids. It also sends the message that kids should expect to be paid for tasks they will need to perform in order to live productive lives.


In addition to teaching high-school kids about personal hygiene and grooming, parents, educators and mentors should also teach teens to practice healthy, self-care habits, such as getting enough exercise and avoiding harmful substances, including alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs. Healthy, self-care practices set teens up for success and productivity in adulthood. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that as of 2012, childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. In order to minimize risk factors for cardiovascular disease and pre-diabetes, teens should be encouraged to remain physically active and should eat healthful meals more often than not. The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that substance use during adolescence increases the risk of dependency and addiction, and hinders teens' attainment of important developmental milestones.

Relating to Others

It's important for teens to realize that learning to interact and communicate with others in a healthy and respectful manner is important to their adolescent and adult experiences. Healthy social skills help teens develop friendships with others, connect with mentors and participate in healthy romantic relationships. Relating to others is often based on mutual respect and effective communication skills, says the Palo Alto Medical Foundation website. Teens must learn that yelling at people, using foul language and showing disrespect to friends and authority figures encourages bad habits to develop that can hinder future personal and professional opportunities. Encourage your teen to develop the habit of being cordial to others, respectful of teachers, mentors and other authority figures, and learning effective communication skills, such as active listening and not interrupting others while they're talking.

Professional Development

Skills such as effectively communicating with others, being punctual and having a strong work ethic can help high school kids enhance their professional development. Teens who are taught the importance of being on time, teamwork and the value of hard work will transition much easier into academia or the workforce than teens who don’t possess these skills. Teens who haven’t learned how to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner, have no respect for theirs and others’ time and who show little to no initiative and drive may find it challenging to maintain steady employment, which will only decrease their overall quality of life. Parents can encourage their teens to develop healthy skills that lead to successful professional development by modeling responsible personal and professional behavior, and using opportunities such as completing homework and doing household chores to teach their teens these skills.

About the Author

K. Nola Mokeyane has written professionally since 2006, and has contributed to various online publications, including "Global Post" and Modern Mom. Nola enjoys writing about health, wellness and spirituality. She is a member of the Atlanta Writer's Club.