Life Skills

Life Skills

Many of us can remember a time when a young person who strayed knew that anyone in the neighborhood might intervene, not just their parents. Restoring that sense of interconnectedness and shared responsibility for dealing with young people must be rekindled within communities and within our agencies and organizations.  While this does include teaching career skills, it also means helping young people develop the social skills and coping mechanisms they need to interact with others in positive ways.

My approach to teaching life skills is to combine both social skills and key cognitive skills: problem solving and decision making. “Problem solving” teaches how to make the transition from a present problem, to a desired future outcome. “This process requires that the decision maker be able to identify possible courses of action or solutions to a problem and to determine the best alternative solution.


Verbal Communication:

This section details how to ask questions (asking rather than demanding,) making statements in a tactful way, being mindful of their tone of voice and their choice of words, as well as when and when not to use slang. Teenagers need to learn that the way that they present themselves will be vitally important to how they are perceived, and the ease with which they reach their goals.

Non Verbal Communication:

This section covers awareness of body language, and appropriate vs. inappropriate use of gestures. Role playing is used in this presentation to show how their actions and feelings may be misunderstood; they should be aware of the signals that they are sending.

The look on a person’s face, their posture, their stance, even the people that they surround themselves with all of these factors can speak louder than words.

Teens should be aware of the fact that their attitude shows itself in everything that they do; their body language is a loud statement of their attitude. “Teenagers can greatly benefit from the realization that their attitude is so powerful that people can sense it before they say a word.

Problem Solving/Critical Problem Solving:

This module teaches participants how to identify and deal with problems in a positive manner.

Problem Solving is essential to everyday activities. Often offenders have never learned how to methodically address problems in their everyday lives. As a consequence decisions are made that can lead the offender back to criminal behavior.

Participants are shown that their reactions to situations are going to impact the outcome. A negative occurrence with a negative reaction, e.g., fighting, yelling, etc., can exacerbate the repercussions of the original problem. They can gain control of how they react to different life circumstances.

The way that they face, deal, and hopefully learn from these problems will have an impact; teenagers can learn that their reactions are under their control, and what they take away from any situation is up to them.

Risk Taking:

High risk behaviors, such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, gang affiliations, and risky sexual activities; all of these high risk behaviors will very likely have a negative impact on their lives.

Participants can identify behaviors that they consider high risk, and discuss ways to avoid getting involved, or being talked into or participating in these activities.

Setting personal goals is an important part of this section; if a person has goals for their future, considering these goals and how different behaviors/actions can impact this goal is a good reminder when facing a struggle.

Self Concept :

Self Concept discusses how people see and react to others based on the way that a person presents themselves, how to change the image that they present, and how to set goals and accomplish them. It also covers personal space, substance abuse, sexual behaviors, and how their behavior affects others.

Teens must understand that they are the most influential person in their life. There is nobody more effective at supporting your success-and nobody more effective at undermining it.  Teenagers are often devastated by what they consider to be failure. Anything from poor grades in school, a falling out with friends or boy/girlfriends, or problems at home, all impact how they feel about themselves.


  • Encourage everyone to participate
  • Deliver the material with high energy and show enthusiasm about the subject
  • Incorporate games fun activities
  • Role playing
  • Hands on activities
  • Small group discussions/activities
  • Make adjustments where possible to be most effective
  • Approach each topic as a discussion not a lecture
  • Incorporate participants real life experiences to insure relevance
  • Each session will conclude with a summary and various applications to assess grasp key concepts