Life Skills for Children (So They Don’t Turn Into an Adult Hot Mess)


Sep 7, 2015


Between technology, household help, and Google, today’s kids don’t need to learn some of the most basic, practical skills we absorbed in the course of everyday life. Some might argue this means we shouldn’t bother with out-of-date life skills for children, but we disagree. Anyone who has ever suffered a wardrobe malfunction on a business trip can tell you that sometimes, it pays to be handy with a needle and thread.

So here are the six life skills activities for children to learn by the time they’re 18.

Top life skills for children to learn


Chances are, on a regular day, someone will be around to sew on a button or fix a ripped seam. But what about school trips, a short stay at a friend’s house or a last-minute fancy dress fix? Sewing is probably one of the easiest life skills activities for children — it’s fun and handy.

The next time there’s any simple sewing to be done, involve your child. Let them observe you and then try out a few test stitches on a rough piece of cloth.  This is one of those life skills for children that doesn’t seem important until the day that they desperately need to know how to sew that button back on.

Using basic tools

Spanners, hammers, pliers and screwdrivers. No one expects self-made furniture, but familiarity with a basic toolkit is a must. Fixing even the smallest household hiccups gives a sense of accomplishment and independence.

And there are countless opportunities for teaching children life skills for household repairs. Just get out your toolbox one weekend and introduce your child to each of the tools. Start by asking for their assistance the next time there is something to be fixed.

Or, you can get a Mechanix toy set; when you think they’re ready, assign them something to repair on their own.

Administering basic first aid

There are few kids who haven’t fiddled with a toy stethoscope while pretending to check the heartbeat of a friend. The next time the doctor set comes out, steal a few minutes to incorporate some life skills activities for children. Describe a hypothetical scenario (such as, “If you or your friend gets a cut or a bruise”) and explain icing a swollen injury, washing a cut or open wound, pinching nostrils for a nosebleed, and other basic aid.

  Get started with this intro to first aid on The Swaddle.

Make sure to end each lesson by emphasizing the child should seek adult help as soon as possible; the idea is to teach your child enough to handle the situation in the interim, then get an adult to intervene. Certified first aid skills are also important life skills for children once they’re older and can learn from a professional course.

Changing a flat tire

If your children ride a bicycle, it’s useful to know how to fix a flat tire. You can use this video as a reference point and do a real demo the next time they get a flat. Preteens and teens should also be exposed to the basics of changing a car tire. Not only will they be prepared once they start driving on their own, they’ll also be of some use the next time you bust one on a family road trip.


This might seem like something too simple to teach, but it’s one of the most important life skills for kids. Kids need to at least know the difference between dishwashing soap and clothes detergent, and how to do a quick sweep and swab — otherwise, you’ll never want to visit their place when they’re adults.

Lessons can be customized (you want your kid to know the “right” soap for woolens after all), but more important are the basics: what to do if someone spills Coke on a couch, how to get gum off the floor. We suggest you take advantage of accidents as they happen, involving your child in these life skills activities as they occur. Or, consider mini-lessons spread over a few weeks, since soaps, detergents, vacuum cleaners and bottle brushes aren’t the most fascinating things in the world.


Feeding oneself is possibly the most important of life skills for kids — and microwaving Maggi doesn’t count after a certain age. We’re not talking MasterChef Junior dishes; just the basics. Start young, by getting your kids to contribute to meals with simple tasks, like peeling potatoes. Consider buying a little apron to inspire the chef inside. Eventually, graduate to cooking with children: bake a batch of cookies together, letting your child do the whisking and stirring.

Once they’re older and can be trusted with a stove or microwave oven, venture into chai and coffee. Stick with it until your child is comfortable with kitchen basics, and if they want to learn more, don’t stop them. Just think: One day you might get breakfast in bed.

These life skills for children all make for capable, independent adults. Set your kids up for life, one home-lesson at a time.

What do you think — did we leave any important life skills for children out? Let us know in the comments!


Written By The Swaddle Team


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