7 Life Skills Your Teen Needs to Be Independent

A mother waving to her child after dropping them off to live independently

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Just because your teen turns 18 doesn't mean they're ready to move out of the house and live on their own. Unless you've taught them the life skills necessary to live in the real world, there's a good chance they may struggle to be independent.

Many teens become "boomerang kids" because they lack life skills. They struggle to get by without the financial, physical, and emotional support of their parents. Here are the basic life skills teens need to successfully gain independence from their parents: 

Work Skills

Don't assume that just because your teen made it through school that they'll be able to hold down a job. The rules of the workforce are quite different from the confines of a high school. Teens need to know how to complete a job application, attend an interview, and follow a supervisor's instructions. 

A part-time job during high school or a summer job can help prepare your teen for the responsibilities of a future career. Additionally, assigning chores and regular household duties can prepare your teen for the working world.


Just because your teen has a driver's license doesn't mean they necessarily have transportation skills. Teens need to know how to get from point A to point B. That may mean knowing how to navigate through rush hour or understanding how to use GPS.

Of course, not all teens know how to drive nor have a driver's license. In those cases, it's important for your teen to know how to use public transportation. And if there's a chance your teen may need to travel for work, or they plan to leave the state to go to college, knowing how to navigate an unfamiliar city is important. 


Whether your teen wants to be healthier or they're interested in working their way up the corporate ladder, goal setting skills are essential. Teach your teen how to establish a goal. Then, talk about how to take action toward reaching those goals. A teen who knows how to track his progress is much more likely to stay motivated. 

Work on goal setting skills often. Help your teen identify one thing they want to achieve and then assist them in making it happen. With each new goal they attain, they'll gain confidence in their ability to reach even loftier goals in the future.

Emotion Regulation

All the academic skills or athletic talent in the world will only get your child so far in life. It's important for teens to know how to regulate their emotions, too. After all, if your teen can't control their temper, they won't handle setbacks well. Or, if they can't manage their anxiety, they may never step outside their comfort zone.

Teach your teen how to deal with uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way, and model those techniques yourself. Over time, they'll gain confidence in their ability to do hard things. 

How to Deal With Emergencies

When your teen has to deal with an emergency, there will be no time for them to think. Therefore, it is imperative parents take the time to teach their teens how to effectively deal with emergencies while they are at home. A grease fire, a serious injury, or natural disasters are just a few of the emergencies your teen is likely to encounter at one point or another.

Make sure your teen knows what to do when the power is out or the cell phone towers are down, too. Kids who have grown up with technology often forget that in times of true emergency, electronics aren't always available.

Basic Household Management

While you may be tempted to let your teen off the hook when it comes to chores, it's essential that your teen knows how to manage a household. Whether they live in a dorm room or they rent an apartment, they'll need to know some basic skills.

Teach your teen basic meal preparation skills. Make sure they know how to perform simple repairs, and when to call in professional help. Additionally, don't send them on their way until they know how to do their laundry and properly sanitize a bathroom.

Financial Skills

One of the most important skills you'll ever teach your teen is how to handle money. Unfortunately, many teens leave the house with no idea how to create a budget or how to balance a checkbook. And many of will inevitably find themselves in thousands of dollars of debt in no time.

Teach your teen basic money management skills. Make sure they know about the dangers of credit card debt, the risks involved with taking out additional private student loans, and the importance of investing their money. Teaching those skills early on could make a big difference in your child's overall quality of life and help them build financial security for their future.

6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, an international bestselling author of books on mental strength and host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. She delivered one of the most popular TEDx talks of all time.