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Building Blocks: Building Independent Living Skills in Young Adults

Home / Life Skills  / Building Blocks: Building Independent Living Skills in Young Adults

Young adults who struggle in the launch to adulthood may be missing some of the key skills to best equip them for the real world. As much as you want to be there for your child to lean on, there comes a point where they must learn independence or else they may expect you to provide for them for a lifetime. To put things in a broader perspective consider these things as the top skills one should acquire in order to launch successfully into adulthood:

  1. Time Management
  2. Self-Care
  3. Money Management
  4. Communication skills
  5. Getting around
  6. Food preparation
  7. Shopping
  8. Job skills

If your child lacks any or several of these skills, adulthood can seem intimidating or like an impossible task. Building independent living skills in young adults begins at your home. You should begin giving them responsibilities and stop saving them from every crisis. This will help them learn how to handle tough situations and develop their independence.

The Building Blocks

It’s understandable that parents want to help their children, even when they’re young adults. But it is crucial for young adults to be given opportunities and guidance to build experience and skills for themselves. In the same way that your child learned to tie their shoes through time and practice, the same thing will happen as they practice their life skill. Here are some ways to get started helping your young adult build their independent living skills:

  • Time management. Teach your young adult to use a schedule. Prioritizing tasks, leaving time for things that have to be done, and being punctual are all important components of time management. Making to-do lists, setting reminders in one’s phone, and keeping a calendar are all great ways to get on board with time management.
  • Self-care. Self-care is critical to maintaining a healthy mind and body. Make sure your adult takes time for themselves, gets active, and knows the simple rules of self-care. Operating the laundry machine is not a task one just wakes up and knows how to do. There comes a point where you should no longer be washing your young adults’ laundry.
  • Money management. Balancing a checkbook, setting finances aside to pay for important things, and avoiding frivolous spending are important tasks your young adult must learn. Give them examples on how to best budget their spending. You can also take your young adult to a bank and show them the steps of opening up a bank account. Many banks will also work with members to talk about financial goals and planning. 
  • Communication skills. Without communication, navigating adulthood is going to be nearly impossible. Small tasks such as scheduling dentist appointments or setting up job interviews require communication skills. Practice these at home with role play. Give your young adult this responsibility. Joining a local club or enrolling in a class that interests them could also provide the opportunity to practice interactions and communication skills. 
  • Getting around. Your young adult must know how to get themselves around town. Depending on where they live, this could mean public transport. In a city, young adults will have to know how to buy tickets or passes, read and follow the transport schedule and read a map. Young adults who will be traveling by car will need to feel comfortable navigating, but also understand about oil changes, car inspections, and tag renewals. Young adults who will be flying home on an airplane may need to know how to apply for a passport and understand TSA rules and regulations. 
  • Food preparation. Get in the kitchen with your young adult and make sure they know how to prepare simple, easy foods. Cooking is a way that young adults can feel connected to family or their culture even when they are far away from home. Learning to cook a meal can also instill a sense of pride and accomplishment. Talk with them about their favorite foods and get them engaged and excited about being in the kitchen. 
  • Shopping. Your young adult must know how to navigate their way around and make purchases that they need. Young adults can build these skills by accompanying you when you are running errands or making other purchases. You can model skills like planning, making and following a list, and budgeting and you can also give them opportunities to lead the shopping trip themselves. Even seedling mundane tasks like checking to see if the family needs more toilet paper, putting it on a list, and purchasing it in a timely manner is an important skill for young adults to have. 
  • Job skills. In order to appeal to the professional world, one must acquire simple skills that will be useful in the workforce. This includes: time management, interpersonal relationships, following directions, building a resume, and preparing and dressing for an interview. Get your young adults involved in the community through volunteering or interning to learn these tasks.

There are many ways to build life skills at home, but for young adults who have attended a therapeutic boarding school or were enrolled in a residential treatment program, they may not have had the opportunity to practice their skills in a real world environment. It can be intimidating to go straight home from these programs and this is where a transitional living program can help. 

Transitional Living to Build Life Skills

Transitional living programs like Journey Home East specialize in serving young women who have successfully completed a residential treatment program and/or therapeutic boarding school and have demonstrated significant progress indicating their readiness for a life-skills based transitional living program. It has been recognized that a transition period after residential treatment can be helpful and provide some of these young women with the best chance of ongoing success.

At Journey Home we teach and reinforce Five Core Principles which we believe to be at the heart of what will help our young women live happy, productive lives. One of those Core Principles is life skills. Rather than just talking through scenarios is a clinical, controlled environment, our young adults are given opportunities daily to build and practice these skills in a real world environment. Some examples of how we work on life skills are:

  • Daily accountability. Stepping into adulthood can be challenging for young adults, especially if they have not developed the skills they need like time management and accountability. Our residents worked daily to take care of themselves and their environment through tasks like chores, hygiene, cleaning and personal care. 
  • Financial budgeting. Many young adults have never seen a checkbook, much less monitored a bank account. These are critical skills adults are just expected to learn once they enter the real world. At Journey Home we provide life coaching for our residents to help them set financial goals, learn how to make (and stick to) a budget, balance a checkbook, and intentionally save their money.
  • Shopping. For many young adults, shopping is an experience that provides an opportunity to spend time with friends and have some fun. But at Journey Home, we know that shopping can be a learning experience as well. A shopping excursion can teach young adults about budgeting and sound financial planning. 
  • Cooking. Cooking may seem like a mundane task but there are many life skills that have to happen before you can sit down for a meal. Cooking not only teaches young adults how to provide sustenance for themselves, but also about meal planning, navigating a grocery store with a list to follow, and self care through food. Residents learn to cook for themselves and others as well as the importance of cleaning up once they are done. 
  • Job searching and interviewing skills. Young adults are entering the workforce for the first time, which can be both exciting and scary. Finding out career interests, learning to write a resume, researching job opportunities and practicing interviewing skills are all things that can help young adults be successful as they begin their job hunt. 

Journey Home East can help

Journey Home East specializes in serving young women who have successfully completed a residential treatment program and/or therapeutic boarding school and have demonstrated significant progress indicating their readiness for a life-skills based transitional living program. This program focuses on helping women transition from long-term treatment to the real world. The idea is to wean them off support systems of being in programs for many years and hone in on functional living skills they need to be independent. 

It has been recognized that a transition period after residential treatment can be helpful and provide some of these young women with the best chance of ongoing success. At Journey Home East, we help residents to develop their own individualized Healthy Living Plan. Journey Home East helps with scheduling for school, classes, work, internships. This program also provides health coaching, relationship building, dating safety and personal safety tips. Students have the opportunity to equip themselves with the skills they need to lead healthy and successful lives post-treatment. 

We can help your family today!

For more information please contact us at (828) 243-6165.