How to Teach Adult Life Skills

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Lao-Tzu, a Chinese poet and philosopher, once said, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” Whether you are teaching your child adult life skills like safe driving techniques or managing their finances, you can prepare yourself and your child for the journey.

Use Technology Whenever Possible

The Millennial Generation loves to use technology when learning and exploring their world. You can use apps to teach children how to manage money and time. The repetitive nature of these programs allows learners to practice their skills until they are comfortable. Some programs challenge and engage participants with increasingly difficult tasks and reward systems. You can monitor your child’s progress and assess their ability to apply their skills using real-world scenarios.

Discuss and Model the Skill

Children learn by observing and imitating others. To teach your child any adult life skill, discuss the process that you use and then model the behavior. For example, you can teach your child how to set goals. Use the mnemonic acronym SMART to ensure that your goal is specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. Ask your child to help you set SMART goals for activities like decluttering and organizing a room or planting a garden. Encourage your child to set their own short-range and long-range goals like preparing to obtain their driver’s license or interviewing for a job.

Be Prepared to Seize Teachable Moments

Between the demands of school activities and work, it is difficult to schedule extended teaching sessions with your child. Be prepared to work on adult skills whenever the opportunity arises. In addition to apps, you can use worksheets and role-play various scenarios tasks that your child must perform to demonstrate their proficiency. Give reading assignments that allow your child to gain insights into topics like interview techniques. Ask your child to discuss what they learned and how they plan to use the information.

Allow Your Child to Apply the Skill

After your child has created SMART goals for various adult life skills, give them opportunities to practice these skills in a relaxing environment. While grocery shopping may seem simple, the activity requires various complex skills, such as creating a shopping list, comparing prices and checking out at the register, which you can practice at home using various payment methods. You can teach your child multifaceted tasks by separating each skill that they must perform by dividing it into smaller steps. Ask your child to plan the menu, determine whether they need to purchase ingredients and write the shopping list. Show them how to compare prices based upon the unit cost. If you are consistent, positive and organized, your child will be more likely to learn and use adult life skills.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "How to Teach Adult Life Skills," in, February 9, 2016, (accessed August 7, 2022).