Life skills for young people


As young people navigate and survive the challenges of growing up – their everyday life skills are so important.

More young people today are taking a little longer to grow up than in past generations with mixed success. It’s a good thing that teenagers are granted a slower trajectory into adulthood – they tend to stay in school longer and tend to go on to further education as opposed to getting married young and starting a family at a young age.

Today’s delayed adulthood has many benefits but it also means that some young people are missing out on life skills. Skills that are important for all young people but especially so for the ones who need to grow up a little quicker due to their circumstances – like the children and young people who come to us.

Here are some of the skills young people should be developing:

Money and budgeting skills

In an increasingly digitalised world, it is important to teach young people the value of money.

Don’t go full digital – keep cash around!

Show teens:

  • how to open a bank account
  • where the ATMs are and how to use them
  • how to transfer money online
  • how to pay bills – online, over the phone and in person
  • how to save, budget for a goal or an emergency
  • the importance of giving to others, sharing what you have.

Cooking/food skills

Some young people naturally want to cook and experiment in the kitchen but for the vast majority, the adults in their lives take care of buying groceries and cooking for them. What happens when they move out – do they live on cereal, take away and baked beans?

Teach young people:

  • where to go grocery shopping
  • the correct amounts to ask for – a dozen eggs, half a kilo of nuts, a litre of juice.
  • how to identify basic ingredients in food
  • how to eat healthily

Show young people how to:

  • safely prepare and store food
  • use kitchen appliances – the cooker, oven, kettle, toaster, microwave, dishwasher, iron

Do they know the hazards of leaving gas on, of sticking anything into an electrical appliance, of not putting anything metal in the microwave (including foil)?


Young people should know where to shop and what to shop for – such as choosing the right clothes for the right occasion, for example an interview.

Show young people:

  • what clothes will last, what clothes will require hand washing or ironing

How to:

  • read the labels on clothing
  • match items of clothing
  • do laundry – separating whites and colours, where the detergent goes, what setting to put the machine on
  • tie a tie
  • iron a shirt
  • organise a wardrobe
  • pack a suitcase
  • sew (perhaps this is going too far… but we can always try!)
Teen doing laundry

Personal grooming/hygiene

Some young people are not aware of the need for personal hygiene and grooming and this lack of awareness needs to be taken care of sensitively so not to offend the young person.

Inform the young people about the need for:

  • daily showering
  • oral hygiene
  • washing hair
  • cutting nails
  • what products to use
  • shaving
  • menstrual care and hygiene

House keeping

Sounds boring to a teen or young person but, nonetheless, skills to keep a home are important!

  • making sure their home is clean and tidy
  • knowing how to vacuum, mop, change sheets and make a bed
  • understanding the importance of clean kitchens, bathrooms, fridges and taking out the bins
  • knowing how to recycle

Life skills

We do so much for our children and young people that the importance of being able to accomplish basic tasks can be overlooked, like:

  • making/cancelling appointments
  • writing a letter and posting it
  • crafting an email
  • using a phone (most young people today will know this)
  • how to vote
  • how to use public transport
  • how to read a map and use GPS
  • how to drive and basic auto maintenance skills – change a tire, get gas, driver insurance
  • basic DIY – change a light blub, change a fuse, unblock a toilet/sink, fix a dripping tap
Teen fixing a drawer

Safety and first aid

Young people should know about:

  • physical and mental health/exercise
  • the importance of a healthy/balanced lifestyle
  • self-care
  • how and when to seek help
  • basic first aid
  • over the counter medication
  • who to call in an emergency
  • how to look out for other people
  • staying safe – online and in real life situations
  • basic survival

Healthy relationships

We live in a very confusing world and relationships are difficult to navigate for young people so it is important that they know what is ok and what’s not.

We need to teach young people about:

  • boundaries
  • mutual respect
  • emotion regulation
  • communication & listening
  • tolerance
  • understanding diversity
  • equality
  • empathy
  • compromise
  • healthy conflict/how to disagree
  • how to apologise
  • gratitude
  • morals and values
Teen setting goals


Young people need to be well socialised to find employment. They need to have:

  • social and emotional wellbeing and intelligence
  • organisation skills
  • communication skills
  • personal responsibility
  • problem solving
  • resilience
  • goal setting
  • time management
  • decision making
  • adaptability
  • how to create a resume & apply for a job
  • how to ace an interview
  • ability to evaluate skills and identify weaknesses

We think we have covered most things – can you think of any others that we may have missed? Does your teen/young person know how to do any of these?

We acknowledge the Aboriginal people of the Cadigal and Gayamaygal Clans. We acknowledge the Country on which we live, work, and gather as being Aboriginal land.

We acknowledge the lands, waterways and skies that are connected to Aboriginal people. We honour them and pay our deepest respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

We respect their rightful place within our communities, and we value their ancient cultural knowledge and practices.

Aboriginal Flag
Torres Straight Island Flag

We deeply respect that this will always be Aboriginal land and we will honour and follow the first peoples’ values in caring for the Country and for preserving their culture.

We deeply value that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the oldest living culture in the world and we will continue to work with their peoples and communities to ensure their cultures endure and remain strong.