Congratulations!! Your teen is preparing to complete his or her high school years and move on to young adulthood. Transitions can be difficult for adolescents and parents. It’s important for your child to feel comfortable talking to you about some of his or her stressors, anxiety, fears and worries about the transition. Autonomy can be simultaneously liberating, scary and challenging.
Here are 4 Life Skills for your emerging young adult to practice and master in order to help make the transition smoother:
- Time Management: Talk to your child about how to manage his or her time. In high school, your child may be used to having you around in the home as a constant reminder about assignments, projects and upcoming exams. And (hopefully) you are not going to attend college too just to help! Most colleges will provide students with a syllabus so that they can develop a strategy to maintain proper time management. If your child is working, time management is key to getting up on time, planning ahead and executing a project to its completion. With the new level of freedom as a young adult comes the responsibility to be aware of all expectations and obligations and to break them down into manageable and effective parts. Now is a good time to get into good time management habits.
- Self-Care. Taking time for yourself to relax and recharge is critical to a successful adult routine. Teach your child the importance of taking time for this. Teach and practice a few self-care strategies in your household starting now so that everyone can realize the importance. Activities such as watching a movie, going to the park, exercising, eating healthy, sleeping, coloring in a coloring book and meditating are all great examples. Having the tools to prevent and decrease stress are critical to high intensity moments or pressure-filled expectations. In addition, your child should create time for enjoyment. The balance between work, fun and self-care can be tricky especially for a newbie adult so practice and preparation are key.
- Finances. By the time your child is officially an adult at age 18, he or she has already witnessed how you and your family manage money. He or she has also probably heard (and already internalized) your views on money - otherwise known as your "money mindset." Having a healthy conversation about your expectations for your child's financial contribution to the family, if any, plus how all of his or her bills will be paid is essential to clear communication and effective outcomes. Teach your child about money management, budgeting, credit, scholarships and student loans regarding college as well. Practice creating a budget now, stick to it and review to uncover the pitfalls and problems.
- Safety. You probably began the conversation about safety when your child became an adolescent, but with young adulthood come additional risks and dangers. Drinking, drugs, driving and sexual safety are the topics that immediately come to mind, but have you considered identity theft, traveling alone, and internet over-exposure? Consider what might come up in the next few years and begin a healthy dialogue. Don't let your child minimize your concerns are avoid you. Safety is critical to success. Provide your child with local emergency numbers, crisis hotline numbers and policies regarding safety on campus or in the area where he or she is living. Talk about one or two point people or places that your child can go to if he or she doesn't feel safe. Explain that there will be no consequences for reaching out for help. Any barriers to communication are too many when it comes to safety.
So parents, please don’t panic. This is a new experience for you and your child, but it is also an amazing time. Your child will experience new challenges and grow, as will you! Savor the moments and learn from mistakes, especially the small ones. No one is perfect so consider mistakes opportunities for further discussion and development. Enjoy the time!