Life skills: preparing adolescents for adulthood

In the upcoming weeks, there will be a series of several short articles discussing certain necessary life skills for young adolescents to meet who are ready to leave the family nest and soar into the world of adulthood.

Laura Kastner, Ph.D. wrote “new neuroscience research indicates that the human brain does not reach maturity until a person reaches their early twenties.” As parents monitor the progression of their teens’ development, she urged parents to “be mindful of what they can do to nudge them along,” and “be realistic and sensitive to special considerations of temperament, learning style and circumstances.”

To help our kids become happy, well-adjusted adults rather than entitled, needy citizens, we (parents, educators and society) have to give them the gift of competence. Research has shown that adolescents who can handle everyday tasks such as doing laundry, grasping banking skills, holding positive social interactions and learning to problem-solve when the going gets tough, generally become happier and more confident adults. Whether they are still living at home or getting ready to go to college, it’s never too late to start teaching them how to be independent and self-sufficient.

Lesson One: Motivation for Personal Goals

It is vital to teach children from a young age that it’s important to know how to take the initiative and be engaged in setting personal goals. A willingness to try new things is a huge must because it can open the door to so many unknown possibilities. Being able to set sights on their goals and follow through will help create more well rounded individuals.

When setting personal goals, instilling a good work ethic is also an integral part of proper development. Even young children need to learn that there is no such thing as a money tree that grows in the backyard, and it is their responsibility to work hard, be persistent and stay committed to all projects whether personal or professional.

Along with being an active participant in their own lives, adolescents should be encouraged to pursue their specific personal interests and development. Having the drive to learn how to understand and create one’s unique identity is an instrumental part of the challenge when attaining their personal goals.

Remember to stay positive and be a good role model. As children observe their parents setting and then reaching their own personal goals, they often become more likely to actively pursue their own goals as well.

Next: Lesson Two – Executive Functioning Skills

Amanda can be reached at

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