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Teach Life Skills

Life skills are skills that help children make the transition from dependence to independence by adding to their capabilities. From putting toys in the toy box to mowing the lawn, life skills prepare a child to be productive. When you teach children life skills you empower them. You give them the ability, the confidence, and the “power” to do something they couldn’t do before. There are many benefits to empowering your children. They would include:

  • It instills in them a sense of accomplishment and confidence.
  • It enables them to be a more capable, contributing member of the family, thus satisfying their need to feel a sense of belonging.
  • It increases their sense of personal power so they don’t feel they have to be sassy or defiant to meet that need on their own.
  • It helps them to become more independent.
  • It prepares them to be a productive member of society.
  • It gives them skills they will need as adults.
  • It could begin an interest in something that turns into a passion.
  • They learn at a younger age with your help than they would without your help.
  • It bonds them, or brings them closer, to the person who taught them.
  • The more they learn to do, the less mom and dad have to do for them.
  • It increases good behavior and decreases bad behavior.

Life skills include household responsibilities, but go beyond that. They include anything that enriches someone’s life such as learning to count, throwing a ball, riding a bike, making a healthy smoothie, learning to swim, or riding a horse. As children are exposed to life skills, they will decide what interests them and what doesn’t. Keep in mind that what interests you may not necessarily interest them. And what interests one child might not interest another. Exposing them to many life skills will give them opportunities to choose what they like and what they don’t like, and being able to choose helps satisfy their need for a sense of personal power.

Following is a list of life skills to get you started, but don’t assume it covers everything. The list is organized by age group.

Ages 2-3

Put away toys
Get dressed
Use the toilet without help
Put dirty clothes in the hamper
Take plates to kitchen sink after eating
Set the table with help
Begin to brush teeth
Carry in the mail
Wash and dry hands – will require a stool
Put clean silverware away
Count to 10
Kick a soft, inflatable ball
Say please and thank you
Stay away from the street
Cross the street safely with an adult

Ages 4-5

Tie shoes
Recite full name, address and phone number
What to do if a stranger approaches you
What to do if there is a fire
Use the phone
Make a 911 call
Clear the dinner table and wipe it down after a meal
Put toys away when done playing with them
Feed the family pet
Set the table independently
Fold towels
Brush teeth and comb hair without assistance
Water plants
Help vacuum
Use good table manners
Ride a bike – wear a bike helmet, cross the street safely
Count to 100
Tell time
Make a paper airplane
Draw a picture

Ages 6-7

Make a sandwich
Use the stove – heat up a can of food
Rinse, dry, and put dishes away
Empty the dishwasher
Make the bed
Vacuum without help
Use an alarm to get up in the morning
Bathe him/herself, dry off with a towel, hang the towel up
Take a shower
Pump up a bicycle tire
Properly greet an adult
Count money
Change a light bulb
Run the microwave
Wrap a present
Do homework without constant supervision
Play a musical instrument
Play simple board games
Throw a ball and catch with a mitt – underhanded at close range
Tie a knot
Begin piano lessons
Make the traffic lights turn green by snapping their fingers
Skip flat stones on a lake

Ages 8-9

Wash the dishes or fill the dishwasher
Fold clothes and put them away
Use a broom and dustpan
Clean a toilet
Mop the floor
Take the trash out
Make a simple meal like macaroni and cheese
Bake cookies
Take a written phone message
Plant, water and weed a garden
Fill a car with gas
Wash and vacuum a car
Knit a scarf
Perform a simple magic trick
Have a savings account
Use email
Write and send letters
Learn the dangers of alcohol, drugs and tobacco and what to do when offered

Ages 10-13

Use the internet (with a filter)
Use a sewing machine
Change bed sheets
Plunge a toilet
Clean the oven
Make bread
Understand basic nutrition
Understand weight control
Use the washing machine and dryer
Use a newspaper and flyers to find bargains and coupons
Shop for food
Prepare meals and desserts from a recipe book
Learn meat handling rules and food handling basics
Iron clothes
Hammer nails
Use power tools
Mow the lawn
Use a weed whacker
Paint a wall
Take the Red Cross babysitting course
Learn first aid – certify for CPR
Babysit with an adult nearby
Build a camp fire
Use a pay phone
Place a long distance call
Place a collect call
Be able to apply practical math skills
Wardrobe matching
Make and keep dentist appointments
Hula hooping
Type without looking
Budget money
Pay household bills
Understand debit and credit cards, interest and debt
Order something on the internet
Sell something on the internet
Understand prescriptions
Start to learn computer programs like the Microsoft Office Suite

Ages 14-16

Learn basic household repairs
Memorize Social Security Number
Accompany parent to vote
Accompany parent to register a car
Learn how car insurance works
Change a flat tire
Jump a car with a dead battery
Check tire pressure and oil in a car, and top off windshield fluid
Understand a car’s maintenance schedule
Understand what a car’s warning lights mean
Perform thorough car detailing
Learn the rules of the road
Learn to drive
Learn about hair, makeup, jewelry, fingernail painting (girls)
Create a resume, cover letter, and learn how to interview
Open a checking account



Learning life-skills increase children's sense of personal power so they don’t feel they have to be sassy or defiant to meet that need on their own.