Eventually your teens will be full-fledged adults. Yes, they grow up fast. Make sure they know how-to adult by teaching them these 10 simple but crucial life skills:
1. How to unclog a toilet.
You only need to get stuck with a clogged toilet at a party once to understand how important this life skill is. Although there are apparently ways to unclog a toilet without a plunger, it’s best to know to wield a plunger under pressure. First, wear gloves if you can — things can get messy quickly. Second, make a gentle initial plunge to force air out of the plunger. Third, plunge vigorously in and out while maintaining the seal. Keep going until the clog drains. If all else fails, call in reinforcements. Bonus points: Teach your kids how to properly replace toilet paper.
2. How to sew a button.
If you lose a button on a shirt it may seem easier to just buy a new shirt. But it’s easy to learn how to thread a needle and sew a button back on in minutes, thanks to dozens of tutorials on YouTube. Other useful sewing skills: how to hem pants (iron-on hem tape counts) and how to sew a straight line. If a cat can do it … so can you.
Striking up a conversation with a stranger beats the heck out of staring awkwardly at the floor. Teach your teens how to look people in the eye and make small talk about anything — how their day is going, what they think of the weather, offer a compliment on the unique watch they are wearing or find a common connection — maybe they’re wearing a hat from your alma mater.
4. How to make a secure password.
Hint: Your name and birth date is not a winning combination. A strong password should be unique, have a mix of letters, numbers and symbols and be secure.
Reading a map is a valuable skill even when you have GPS on your phone and navigation in your car. Teach your kids how to read a basic city map and also how to navigate more specialized maps like those for bus, train or subway systems. Show them where the legend is, how to decode symbols and what different colors indicate.
It’s customary to leave a 15 to 20 percent tip when you eat out and someone serves you. Teach your kids a few easy ways to calculate a tip without whipping out the calculator app on their smartphone. Two simple ways are to move the decimal and double the number (so a tip for a $32.50 bill becomes $3.25, then $6.50) or simply double the tax and round-up or down. Set a good example by tipping consistently and generously for great service. Stiff a server and you may live to regret it …
Gone are the days when dinner guests are roasted for using the wrong fork to eat salad, but it’s still important to how to properly set a table. A basic table setting has a fork on the left and knife and spoon on the right and the cup in the top right. P.S. Teaching basic table manners is important, too, but you’re likely teaching that already.
8. How to write a thank you note.
Writing thank you cards may be considered a lost art but it’s a skill that will set your teen apart from the pack. To write a basic thank you note: Greet the recipient by name, list the specific gift or service they provided for you, tell them how you plan to use the item or the results of their help and close with reiterating your thanks.
9. How to pump gas.
Pumping gas into a car may seem like a no-brainer but there are plenty of mistakes to be made: pulling up to the pump on the wrong side of the car, spilling gas in an attempt to top-off, forgetting to replace the gas cap on the tank. Walk a teen through the steps before they fill up on their own.
10. How to cook something.
Don’t let your teen leave the house without the know-how to make at least one proper meal. Ramen doesn’t count. Pick a healthy but basic meal, like pasta with red sauce or chicken stir-fry with rice, so you know they’ll won’t totally starve when they move out.