40 Essential Life Skills Everyone Should Learn

What would you consider to be essential life skills everyone should learn? What basic competencies do you believe your children should have before reaching adulthood?

I brainstormed a list and organized it into four main categories: self-care and emotional intelligence; personal and community safety; communication skills and critical thinking; and household and financial management.

I realize there will be folks for whom these “essential” life skills do not apply. Also, many could easily overlap, but I tried to put them where they made the most sense to me.Β 

Blank list with checkboxes being checked off with a pink highlighter. Text reads: Forty essential life skills everyone should learn.

Self-Care and Emotional Intelligence

  • Setting personal boundaries and respecting the personal boundaries of others
  • Taking charge of your own health {including preventative care}
  • Comprehensive sexual education {including consent}
  • Managing emotions and appropriate ways to de-stress
  • How to prioritize responsibilities and goals
  • How to win {and lose} gracefully
  • Basic understanding of human psychology and child development
  • How to read body language and social cues
What would you consider to be essential life skills everyone should learn? What basic competencies do you believe your children should have before reaching adulthood? Click To Tweet

Personal and Community Safety

  • How to stand up for oneself
  • How to de-escalate conflicts
  • Recognizing signs of abuse, gaslighting, and bullying
  • Maintaining situational awareness {in public and at home}
  • Water safety {not necessarily swimming skills}
  • Transportation navigation and safety {walking, biking, driving, public}
  • Maintaining privacy {online and in real life}
  • What to do in an emergency
  • Basic first aid knowledge
Outline of human head showing brain against a blue background. Text reads: Essential life skills to teach your children, competencies we all need to be successful adults.

Communication Skills and Critical Thinking

  • Basic social manners and etiquette
  • Speaking clearly {in person and over the phone}
  • Listening to understand {and with empathy}
  • Basic negotiation and mediation skills
  • How to apply and interview for a job
  • Appropriate use of social media 
  • Effective writing skills {formal and informal}
  • Basic knowledge of civics and good citizenship {including when, where, and how to vote}
  • Scientific literacy {including recognizing pseudoscience}
  • How to evaluate information sources 
  • How to spot a scam
  • Understanding legal documents {including contracts and leases}
  • Making a realistic assessment of one’s abilities and limitations


Household and Financial Management

  • How to move in/out of a home {including signing/breaking a lease}
  • How to buy and maintain a vehicle {not necessarily doing the maintenance yourself}
  • Setting up utilities {including evaluating providers and rates}
  • Home and lawn maintenance and safety {including how to find outside resources}
  • Updating personal documents {will, power of attorney, insurance, license, passport}
  • Daily maintenance skills: Cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, minor clothing repairs
  • Creating a realistic budget {that includes both future planning and present enjoyment}
  • Understanding the basics of interest, credit, loans, and long-term investing
  • Paying bills on time {including setting up automatic payments}
  • Taxes {how to file your own or how to find resources}

What essential life skills everyone should learn do you feel this list misses? Anything that you would eliminate?

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    This is such a good list! Well thought-out, and covers so many important lifeskills! If a person could master ALL of these skills, they’d be pretty darn perfect, haha! This would be a cool starter post for a series… you could dive into some of these lifeskills individually and create posts that discuss the benefits of each skill, disadvantages of not developing the skill, and strategies and resources to help kids (and teens and adults!) develop the skill.

    1. Valerie
      Valerie

      That is actually a great idea. I will add it to my ever-growing list of potential future posts. Thanks so much for visiting today!

  2. Avatar
    Anthea

    As a teacher myself , I agree with the lost that you made. Children do need to learn a variety of skills. Thanks for sharing

    1. Valerie
      Valerie

      Thank you for stopping by, Anthea.

  3. Avatar
    Lora

    Great list as those are all such important things to know. I’d like to think I would focus on those things if I had kids.

    1. Valerie
      Valerie

      Thank you so much, Lora.

  4. Avatar

    I totally agree with everything on your list. I wish all of these were taught in our schools.

    1. Valerie
      Valerie

      Same. Thank you for stopping by, Corinne.

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