8 Life Skills All Teens Should Have Before Heading Off To College
Very few things are scarier and more heart wrenching for a parent than the day they leave their child at college. It is a proud moment for a parent to see their 'baby' leave the nest, but it is also sad and worrisome. A friend recently shared her experience with me about the day she dropped her daughter off to college, and the feelings that followed for months. Her words, "no one told me it would feel like this" really resonated with me.
My friend was not alone in her sadness and anxiety in leaving her daughter at college. Many parents feel this way. As the college drop off day approaches, you may start to question if you have prepared your young adult, or forever baby, for the world. Unfortunately there is no magic pill, formula, or tutorial that helps us raise the perfect child, or perfectly prepare a child to go off into the world. But there are things we can do as parents to help them grow into capable adults and ease the transition.
Life Skills Needed Before Heading Off To College
Manage Money/Budget - Your teen should have a decent understanding of how to manage their money, and how to stay within a budget. One of the best ways to do this is to give them a debit card or refillable cash card in their junior or senior year of high school, or at an even earlier age depending on the child, and have them make some basic purchases for themselves. Add a specific amount of money to the account or card and have them stay within a budget on the card. If the money runs out before the specified time, they will have to wait until more money is added by you.
Do Laundry - Your young adults needs to know how to do their own laundry. Cleaning their clothes and doing laundry is a basic function of self-care. There is no mommy or maid at college to pick up their clothes off the bedroom or bathroom floor and wash them. Laundry is simple to us, but we all know you can ruin clothes if you do not know what you are doing.
Cook - Despite what your teen thinks, they should not survive on fast food. Not only is it unhealthy, and adding to the freshman 15, but it is also a budget buster. Male or female , having some simple culinary skills are a must. Not being able "to boil water" is not cute.
Whether it's scrambling or boiling eggs, making salads and sandwiches, or taking ramen to the next level by adding some frozen veggies and protein, give them the tools they need..
Grocery Shop - If they are going to cook occasionally, your teen will need to know how to grocery shop. They should know how to bargain shop, find the deals, check expiration dates, and calculating their spending before getting to the cashier.
Pay Bills - Allow your teen to have a couple of bills that they are responsible for to teach them responsibility, and help them get use to managing their finances. The bills can be something small like a cell phone bill or car insurance.
The bill doesn't matter so much as that they understand the importance of paying bills timely, and understand the consequences of when they fail to do so.
Clean - Many teens keep their rooms like pig sties, but we can all hope they will eventually outgrow being messy, eventually. Your teen should know how to clean a bathroom, how often to wash their bedding, how to vacuum, and cleaner to use for different surface.
Drive/Use Public Transportation - Whether you are sending your kid off with a car or a bus pass, they should know how to get around and navigate their way in a new city. Ensure they know how to read a map, change a tire, and understand the importance of regular maintenance for a vehicle.
Sense of Self - If there is any one skill your child needs to leave home with let it be a sense of self. Your child should know right from wrong, know how to say no, and be confident enough to stand up for themselves.
There will be a lot of temptations and a lot of freedom in college, just like the real world in general. But having a young adult who is confident, and does not feel the need to do any and everything for the sake of fitting in can make a big difference.
It is never easy to see our children grow up and leave home. However, there can be some comfort found in knowing you have prepared them for the day that they go off on their own. Teaching them some basic life skills will make their life, and yours, all that much easier.
I didn't include getting a job as a life skill needed before college, because I think that many see college as a means to getting a good job. However, work ethics should be taught at home by giving responsibilities with chores around the home. What are your thoughts on the needed life skills before college? Please share!