– Anant Tyagi –
Life skills are usually associated with managing and living a better quality of life. They help us to accomplish our ambitions and live to our full potential.Any skill that is useful in your life can be considered a life skill. Tying your shoe laces, swimming, driving a car and using a computer are, for most people.
Life skills: Decision-making, goal setting, problem-solving, coping with stress, coping with emotions, negotiating, friendship, interpersonal relationships, empathy (concern for others), critical thinking, creative thinking, resisting peer pressure, assertiveness
Different life skills will be more or less relevant at different times your life, for example:
When at school or university, you’ll need study skills
When buying a house, negotiation skills may be needed
You’ll need to work on your employability skills to get a job
When you have a job, leadership and presentation skills may be useful, along with a whole host of other skills
When you start a family, time management and organising skills are likely to become important.
There will be times throughout your life when you’ll need conflict resolution, stress-management and problem solving skills too.
Livelihood skills: Time management, getting a job, interview, computer, cooking, driving etc.
Learning skills: Reading, reporting, numeracy etc.
Technical/health skills: Cleaning teeth, condom, road safety, giving oral rehydration etc.
Outcomes of life skills: Teamwork, self-esteem, learning from each other, confidence etc.
By learning new skills we increase our understanding of the world around us and equip ourselves with the tools we need to live a more productive and fulfilling life, finding ways to cope with the challenges that life, inevitably, throws at us.
Life skills are not always taught directly but often learned indirectly through experience and practice.
Life skills include psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathize with others, and cope with managing their lives in a healthy and productive manner. Essentially, there are two kinds of skills –
those related to thinking termed as “thinking skills”; and skills related to dealing with others termed as “social skills”. While thinking skills relate to reflection at a personal level, social skills include interpersonal skills and do not necessarily depend on logical thinking. It is the combination of these two types of skills that are needed for achieving assertive behaviour and negotiating effectively. “Emotional” can be perceived as a skill not only in making rational decisions but also in being able to make others agree to one’s point of view. To do that, coming to terms first with oneself is important. Thus, self management is an important skill including managing/coping with feelings, emotions, stress and resisting peer and family pressure. Young people as advocates need both thinking and social skills for consensus building and advocacy on issues of concern.
The five core life skills and examples of a life skills activity
1. Decision-making and problem- solving
– A group of children decide with the educator to give up smoking and help others do the same. They set goals to encourage themselves and each other and try to think what problems and benefits may hap
– A group of older boys shout at and threaten two girls. The girls have to work out whose help to seek if this happens again.
2. Critical thinking & Creative thinking
– A girl is able to assess the risks involved in accepting an invitation from a male stranger to accept a lift across the town.
– A young person is able to think about different future job options and to think how to work towards these options
3. Communication & Interpersonal relationships
– A child is able to discuss problems with parents or an appropriate adult
– A child is able to resist peer pressure when his friends ridicule his refusal to drink alcohol
4 Self-awareness and empathy
– A young woman develops an awareness of her sexual feeling and how these feelings can ‘take over’ sensible decisions. This awareness helps her avoid situations where she might risk unsafe sex.
– A group of children think about how they can help a disabled child who is alone a lot.
5 Coping with Stress & Emotion
– A child learns how to cope with the conflicting pressures of needing to work and wanting to study
– A boy learns to cope with the anger he feels towards his abusive father
However perhaps the most important life skill is the ability and willingness to learn.