Life Skills

Life skills are the abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life (psycho-social lifestyles).

As parents, there is a great need for helping our children acquire these basic skills. According to the World Health Organization, the basic life skills that promote the health and well- being of children and adolescents, (and which apply also to adults) include:

Decision making. This involves making a choice about what to do when faced with a challenge, after carefully analyzing all the available options and the aftermath of choosing to go with any the available options. We gain the best by doing a thorough cost- benefit analysis and choosing what will help us gain more out of a situation, in comparison to what we stand to lose.
Problem solving. This enables us to deal constructively with problems in our lives. If we leave significant problems unresolved, we make ourselves prone to experience mental stress which can as well be accompanied by physical strain.
Creative thinking.  This contributes to both decision making and problem solving by enabling us to explore the available alternatives and various consequences of our action or non- action. Creative thinking helps us to respond adaptively and with flexibility to the situations of our daily lives.
Critical Thinking. This is the ability to analyze information and experiences in an objective manner. When we think critically, we are able to recognize and assess the factors that influence our attitudes and behaviors, such as values, peer pressure and the media.
Effective Communication. This entails expressing ourselves in ways that are appropriate, both verbally and non- verbally, taking into consideration our cultures and situations. We are able to communicate our opinions, desires, needs, fears, as well as, ask for help and advice in times of need.
Interpersonal  relationship skills. These help us to relate in positive ways with the people we interact with. They enable us to make and keep friendly relationships, which can be of great importance to our mental and social well- being. We are also able to keep good relations with family members, who also offer us social support, and in the event that we need to end relationships, we are able to do so constructively.
Self- awareness. This involves the recognition of ourselves, our character, our strengths and weaknesses, desires and dislikes. By so doing, we are able to know when we are stressed or feel under pressure. Knowing ourselves also helps us to communicate effectively, build healthy relationships and develop empathy for others.
Empathy. This is the ability to picture/ imagine what it feels like to be in another person’s shoes, be it that we are familiar with their life’s situation(s) or not. This helps us to understand and appreciate the uniqueness of the people we interact with on a daily basis, and to build healthy social relationships with others, by encouraging nurturing behaviours, despite our differences.
Coping with emotions. This involves recognizing emotions in ourselves and others, being aware of how they influence our behavior and being able to respond to them appropriately, for our own good health and that of others.
Coping with stress. This involves recognizing the sources of stress in our lives, recognizing how this affects us, and acting in ways that help to control our levels of stress.

When we acquire the above skills and make good use of them in our day to day living, we are able to gain much from life despite the challenges that we may encounter. The latter, as a matter of fact, shape us into better beings, when we utilize our skills in resolving them. By doing so, we ensure that we remain holistically healthy, and we, as individuals, and the entire society, stands to gain at the end of it all.

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