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5 Life Skills Your Child Must Know Before Heading Off To College

5 lifeskills for college students

By Vicki Little 

Recently, my father-in-law and my husband had a discussion about how you should have at least five dollars in cash on you at all times. Since my husband didn’t, my father-in-law handed him a five dollar bill and told him he wants him to have it every time he sees him. It made me smile as it was one of those “life-skills” that parents hand down to their children. With so many kids about to head off to college, here are five things you should make sure they know before they go.

1. How to balance a checkbook and make a budget: These are fundamental skills necessary to help your child avoid falling into a financial pitfall. Your child should be able to make a realistic budget that fits their needs and then stick to it, and they should also know how to successfully balance their checkbook. Further, it is okay to help your child when they really need it, but try to avoid rescuing them each time that checkbook gets a little low. If they know they can just get money from you then they won’t be motivated to follow their budget.

2. How to be a responsible driver: Hopefully by now they have the actual driving part down and are doing it safely. Now that they will be further away from you, it is a good time to equip the car with what they may need in case of an emergency. Jumper cables, flares, blankets, bottled water, seatbelt cutter/window breaker, weather appropriate washer fluid and insurance are a must. They should also know how to change a flat tire and check their fluid levels.

3. Your old college tricks: Many of us look back on our college “hacks” with fondness. Like being sure you have flip flops for the shower, and microwaving bread with a piece of cheese on it is cheap and yummy (my old roommate used to swear by baby food for her breakfast but I never went there), no-cook scrambled eggs, and-of course- your favorite Top Ramen recipe!

4. Safety: There are MANY situations in college where basic first aid as well as some knowledge on what to do will be helpful. From knowing “mom’s tricks” to bringing down a high fever to knowing what to do if someone passes out from alcohol can be vital to the safety of your student or one of their friends. A CPR and self-defense class may be a good thing to do together before they leave.

5. The BIG Talks: Whether you have had them before or not, now would be a great time to have the talks again. Sex, drugs, alcohol, stress…all of the big issues that college students face need to be addressed. Share your personal feelings, be willing to listen to theirs, and come up with plans on what your teen can do if different situations arise. One of the most important parts of these big conversations is letting your child know that no matter what decisions or mistakes they make, and no matter what position they find themselves in, you will be a safe place they can go to get advice and help. Make sure they know, without a doubt, that they will not be alone when they need someone.

What do you want to teach your kids before they go to college?

Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. When she isn’t writing or trying to keep up with her kids she can be found volunteering, reading, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.

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