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College-bound teens need to learn life skills

By Judy Hevrdejs

Chicago Tribune (MCT)

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 12 2014 8:39 p.m. MDT

Updated: Tuesday, Aug. 12 2014 8:39 p.m. MDT

Among Greenberg’s list of “Things to Remember” in his book, he includes this: “Five/Five/Twenty. When a hard decision needs to be made, remember this formula. For five minutes they’ll be angry at you. In five days, they’ll forget about it. In 20 years, they’ll thank you.”

Here are a few life lessons to teach teens before they head to college:

Teach them to develop health self-assessment skills. “Kids need to know the difference between a sore throat and strep throat, where you might need antibiotics,” Wider says. “Spotting the signs of something more serious is something a parent should bring to their child’s attention throughout high school.”

Teach them to cook, including food safety. “Pushing good nutrition and stress management is very, very important for good overall health and well-being,” says Wider. Teaching them to cook “is a skill you should be building throughout high school along with food safety.”

Teach them valuable social skills. “You are the model for your children. By listening, you teach them to listen,” says Greenberg. “Teach them how to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and how to introduce yourself. ... (it will) allow them to navigate the world in a way that’s better informed rather than pretending they know everything or are too shy to ask.”

Hand them more responsibility. They’ll learn to manage their time in their own way. “Think about how you give them freedom to spend time on their own. If they choose to work during that time that’s their choice,” says Greenberg. “Everyone comes up with their own process. When you talk about freedom, you really need to talk about allowing your child to find their own successful process. ... If our children are reaching their goal, the way that they get there doesn’t have to be the same way we got there.”

Help them learn to schedule. It’s good to take time for a timeout. “You need time to rejuvenate the best thing you’ve got going for yourself — you!” writes Covey, citing four areas: body (exercise, eat healthy, sleep well, relax); brain (read, educate, write, learn new skills, create); heart (build relationships, give service, laugh, learn to love yourself) and soul (meditate, keep a journal, pray, take in quality media).

Help them believe in their skills. “One of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is to help them find their talents,” Covey says. He uses a child’s poor test score as an example. “I say to her, ‘They can’t measure your ability to connect with people.’ I’ve been doing that for the last year, and suddenly I’ve heard (the child) say, ‘I’m really good at this.’ And she’s starting to believe it now.”

Talk about taking responsibility for their actions. Talk about the responsible use of alcohol. “When you are drunk and not in control of your actions, your inhibitions are lowered and unfortunately we see a lot of bad decision-making,” says Wider. This can include unprotected sex, drunken driving and date rape. “I tell parents about a buddy system, which is lifesaving; never taking a drink from a punch bowl — ever; never letting somebody buy you a drink (and) always (be sure to) see the drink opened on your own.”

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©2014 Chicago Tribune

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