Articles College

8 Things Every 18-Year-Old Should Be Able To Do


by Tierney Thompson | Contributor

As we race toward the end of another school year we hope that our children have learned all they need to move on to the next level. Julie Lythcott-Haims, bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult, recently wrote an article about the eight things an 18-year-old should know. Here is her list. Most people think we just learn these skills as we go through life; however, this is not always the case. Here are some ways to help your child gain these skills before you send them off to college.


An 18-year-old should be able to:

1.) Talk to strangers

They must be able to ask questions to waiters, store clerks, and librarians among the many other people we come in contact everyday. They can practice this by looking at people at the store and asking for what they need and want. Send them to get their own oil change and encourage them to return items to a store. (Apparently, this can be mortifying for some teens.)


2.) Find his or her way around

Teach your children to use a navigation system and encourage them to drive in your city and in places you visit. They should also learn to use public transportation and know how to get around an airport. Use urbanadventurequest.com to plan your next family fun day and learn how to get around your city.


3.) Manage assignments, workload, and deadlines

Stop reminding your teens when to do what. Show them how to set reminders on their phone and let them suffer the consequences of poor planning. If your child has issues with executive functioning, learning, and/or attention, you may want to gradually remove the safety net.


4.) Contribute to the running of a household

For the sake of their future roommate and/or spouse, teach your children how to pull their own weight in the running of the household. The smallest tasks, such as unloading the dishwasher, sorting laundry, and taking out the trash, can be accomplished even by the busiest teen.


 5.) Handle interpersonal problems

Teach your children how to work with others by modeling positive relationships. Talk with them about how they can solve their own problems.


 6.) Cope with ups and downs

If you have allowed them to have ups and downs, they will learn to cope. Sometimes just taking a walk can change perspective on how to work through a problem. We can’t sugar coat everything and expect students to cope when they’ve never had to before.


 7.) Earn and manage money

It is difficult to instill these values in our teens when there is so much excess in our society. Encourage your children to earn their own money for extras by babysitting, dog sitting, mowing lawns or working in a business. Students can be referees and work in restaurants or retail.


8.)  Take some risks

As many schools are adopting a growth mindset approach to teaching, students will learn to take risks and try something new. It can start as simple as trying a new food and then talking to a new group of people and even taking a new class.


Tierney Thompson, Ph.D. is an educational diagnostician and founder of Thompson Diagnostics. She has been teaching, tutoring, and evaluating students with specific learning disabilities and ADHD for 20 years, helping them reach their true potential. You can reach her at 214.394.0929 or www.thompsondiagnostics.com.

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