30 Practical Lessons for Teens Before they Leave Home

Tips for Raising Smart TeensIs your teen ready to leave home?  Whether your kids are leaving home for college or moving out, some smart preparation can help them be better equipped. 

When our children go out in the world to “seek their fortunes”, we want them to be well prepared.   Parents want their children to be more organized for life than they were themselves.  

To help accomplish this goal, stop doing too much for your kids!  Encourage them to learn how to take care of themselves, at least a little.   Below is a list of 30 useful lessons for your kids to help them be better prepared for adult living!

Money Management

Teach teens how to use a credit card, a debit card and about credit card interest rate policies.  Good money management habits start when they are young.

2  Help your teen to open a checking account, learn how to write a check, manage and balance their own checking and savings accounts.  Junior checking accounts are usually available at age 17 or earlier, depending on your bank.

3  Instill in your kids motivation for saving some rainy day money and why saving is a good idea.  If kids become smart savers now, this skill will help them in the long run.

4  Have a discussion about Needs vs. Wants.  Once kids start paying for things themselves, their priorities will change a little.  They will learn what they actually need rather than just wanting anything that they see.

5  Consider putting your your teens on a budget.  It is important for them to learn to prioritize purchases.  If they are buying new school clothes, which is a priority, give them a spending cap.  If they chooses clothes with no regard to price, this can become a bad habit they carry into adulthood.

            Read more about Money Lessons for Teens Here


Show teens how to save instead of waste money on groceries and household items.  Use coupons, look for deals, shop at the frugal stores, do online price comparisons.  When you save money, show your kids how you made that happen.

7  Explain to them when shopping online is a good deal and when it isn’t.  Items that are cheaper and not easily available nearby make good online purchases.  Clothing that may not fit and has to be shipped back is often not a wise online purchase.  Sometimes online is a better choice but often it isn’t the most frugal choice.

8  Always ask at the register, if there are coupons or discounts.  While I am waiting in line, I often do a quick online search for coupons.    By taking the few moments to do this, I can save a few dollars or sometimes a percentage off my entire purchase.

Car Maintenance

Educate your teen drivers in general car maintenance and upkeep.   They should become familiar with checking the oil, air pressure and gas gauge before going on any trip.

10  There are many automotive tasks like replacing a headlight bulb or putting on new wiper blades, teens can learn to do themselves rather than paying someone else.

11 Looking for cheaper gas prices and paying cash rather than a higher credit price are smart habits to develop now.

12  Training your teen to have a watchful eye on the road and keep a lookout for unsafe drivers will help to keep them safe.  When we drive, I point out, when I see people running stop signs or making other bad choices.  My kids all think they are in total control, but they forget it often takes more than one person’s actions to cause an accident.

13  Make sure your teens get some highway and heavy traffic driving experience before they are thrown into it by circumstances.

14  Extra credit points awarded if you teach your kids how to change a tire and change the oil on the car.  My dad taught me both, thank goodness.  Once when I was 19, I did need to change my own tire, on the thruway, alone, at night.  Carly Simon playing very loudly on the radio kept me company that night, back in those old days with no cell phones.


15  Show your kids how to use the navigation on their cell phone to get around unfamiliar areas.  This can help them whether they get stuck in traffic or lost.   When a friend is driving, they may need to navigate.

16  Instill in teen drivers the importance of planning ahead for a longer trip so they are familiar with which roads they will need to travel.

17  Remind them about tolls or parking fees they may need to account for if they are planning a trip.

Read more about smart navigation tips Here!



18  Kids know everything but, can your kids write a professional email with no texting abbreviations?  If not, now is a great time to teach them.  Job applications and college correspondence will often mean they need to write a business type of email response.  Learning sooner rather than last minute, under pressure is always better.

19  Try not to “help” your kids by doing their typing for them.  My personal goal is that my kids have decent word processing, document creation and spreadsheet skills.  Let them learn to type, they will need the skills for college and work situations.

Household Tasks

20 Introduce your children to the washer & dryer and make sure they can use it themselves.  This will help them in college or when they move to their own apartment.

More about kids & laundry in This Post.

21  Demonstrate for your kids the simple way to unclog a toilet, sink or shower rather than calling an expensive plumber.  Vinegar, baking soda and a plunger work wonders!

22  Other practical skills include ironing clothing, sewing a button or fixing a quick hem.

23  Tell kids why a lint roller and dark clothes go together nicely.  This is quite important if you are a pet owner.  Sitting in a meeting covered in pet hair might not make the best impression on your prospective employer.  Keeping a travel size lint roller in the car has saved us more than once.

24  Remind teens they can always find a video tutorial to solve many minor house issues.  We have fixed our ice maker, a CAC leak, washing machine, Keurig and more with free online videos.

Food Prep & Shopping

25  Take the time to teach your kids some basic cooking skills.  They should know how to use a stove top, an oven and the difference between bake and broil.

26  Instruct your kids in some simple meal preparation.  Just because they were in the room when you cooked dinner, does not mean they know how.  Give some lessons in cooking basics.

27  Help your kids learn to cook a few basic meals like pasta with sauce, an egg sandwich or some chicken.  I make a point to explain to my kids how much cheaper it is to eat at home than to constantly eat out or order in.

Practical Lessons

28  Teach your kids about planning ahead.  Don’t jump in the car to drive to a store without calling first.  You can save yourself time and often money by making phone calls to make sure the item is in stock and the store will be open by the time you arrive.

29  Plan all your errands in one trip to save time, gasoline and wear and tear on the car.


Problem Solving

30  To me one of the most important lessons is problem solving in general.  If my kids are able to solve a problem on their own without giving up, getting frustrated or panicking, they are doing a great job!  I happen to love the quote:  It is okay to not know, but it is not okay, to not try.  When all else fails and you have really tried, then call home for help!


By no means is this a complete list but it is a decent start!  

My goal is to teach my kids to be as independent and self reliant as possible.  I want them to have tools and skills so that they don’t sweat the small stuff.  This will give them more time and energy to devote to all the Big Stuff that adulthood brings. 

What lessons are you teaching your teens?

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  1. Great, practical ideas and guidelines for helping your teenager gain independence. I agree with the value of learning how to problem solve rather than panic. My husband and I enjoyed reading the article and have already referred to it several times in preparing our daughter for college this fall. Thanks!

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