A skill is the ability of an individual to apply his/her mental and physical power to control the environment. It involves things like thinking, playing and implementation so as to solve social, political, economic and culture problems. These skills are the ability to understand one self, build sound relationships with others, survive under difficult circumstances, act responsibly and safely, and solve problems. It addresses the balance between knowledge, attitude and skills.
Need for Life Skills
As children develop, their life begins to change. Adolescents may develop a variety of life skills to prepare them to face challenges, take up family responsibility, make decisions and think about what they want to be in the future. Life skills education addresses these issues for the benefit of the individual and society at large. Life skills equip adolescents with knowledge and attitudes that should lead to the requirement behavior. They reduce health risk and raise awareness on health and related behavior such as sexual abuse, drug abuse, violence, drunkenness, unwanted pregnancy, sexual transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS. Life skills play a decisive role in helping to prevent these behaviors and enlightening teenagers about these challenges so that they can protect themselves.
Types of Life Skills
There are three major types of life skills. These are: individual life skills, social skills and effective decision- making skills.
Individual Life Skills
The ability of a person to know and understand personal feelings, emotions, strengths, weaknesses as well as the position in life and society. It is also the ability of an individual to have a clear vision of self-identity of where he/she come from and culture which has shaped him/her.
The importance of Individual Life Skills
Individual skill is very important in building self- esteem and self- confidence as a person becomes aware of his/her own capabilities and position in the community. The more individual is aware of personal capabilities, the more capable he/she is of using those skills effectively and be able to make choices which are consistent with the opportunities available in the society which one lives. Individual life skills include self-awareness, ability to cope with stress, with emotions and assertiveness.
Awareness is the ability of knowing things. Thus self- awareness is the ability of an individual to know himself or herself, his or her feelings, emotions, strengths and weaknesses. This skill enables a person to ask important questions about himself or herself.
Ask yourself the following questions and try to answer them.
- Who am I and what is my role in the society?
- What do I like, what are my dislikes and why?
- What makes me happy, what makes me unhappy and why?
(b). Copying with stress
Stress is a mental, emotional or physical tension or pressure. It can be caused by the events such as examinations, divorce, death of a family member or a friend or problems in the family. A person needs to develop skills that help him or her to cope with stress. Evaluate yourself: Let’s say you have failed in your annual examinations:
- Would you be happy with the results? Why?
- Would your parents be happy with the results? Why?
- Would you be able to explain the results to other people? Why?
- How would you cope with this situation?
(c). Copying with emotions
Emotions are strong feelings such as love, the desire to be accepted, fear, anger shyness and disgust. The ability to handle emotions enables a person to control his/her strong feelings and actions. Evaluate yourself. Let’s say you are too shy to ask or answer questions in class:
- How would you feel about this situation? Why?
- How would your fellow students react to this behaviour during the lesson?
- How would you overcome your shyness?
Assertiveness is the ability of a person to know what he/she wants and why, and be able to take necessary steps to achieve it. An assertive person is able to express his or her opinions or desires strongly and with confidence. However in achieving what he/she wants the person has to consider rights of others. Evaluate yourself; Let’s say you are having a debate session in school. The motion is, `Teachers should build laboratories for practical training in the school. ` You are proposing this motion. How can you convince the other students to support your side?
This is the ability to understand and live in peace and harmony with others. These are skills for the development of positive interpersonal relationships with friends, family members, peers, people in authority and adults. Social life skills can be developed through the following:
(a). Building positive relationships with others
This is the ability of a person to meet and relate with others in various places such as schools, playing field and social gathering. Relationships can be between children and parents or students and teachers. They can also be between relatives, neighbours or peers. Being able to form healthy relationships enables one to know how to behave properly in each relationship.
(b). Peer resistance
Peer pressure iswhen one's peers/friends influence another person to do something. Our friends can influence us to do good or bad things. For example, positive peer pressure can lead to you to work harder in school and improve your grades. Negative peer pressure can cause you to engage in wrong activities, such as drugabusing andescaping from school. Such bad behavior will get you into trouble with your teachers and parents. No one wants to have a friend who can lead one into problems. Peer resistance helps an individual to take control of him/herself by resisting negative influences from others. Evaluate yourself:
- Have you ever been influenced by your friends to do something?Elaborate
- Was it good or bad?
- What did you do when you were influenced to do bad things?
This is the ability to understand other people`s feelings and to feel concerned about their problems. When you empathize, you imagine yourself in the other people`s situation. This skill enables us to share our friend’s problems. Evaluate yourself:
- How do you feel when your best friend is faced with problems?
- Imagine your friend has failed the civic test. Say how you would feel and what can you do to help him/her?
This is the ability to agree on issues without undermining or going against one’s principles. It is an important skill when disagreements occur. Negotiation skills build good understanding. Evaluate yourself. Imagine your friend wants you to discuss mathematics with him/her while you wanted to discuss civics. How would you negotiate with him/her so that both of you can agree?
(e) Effective communication
This is the ability of a person to communicate with people according to their mood, age and background. It includes speaking, reading, listening and writing skills. This skill is very important in maintaining good relationship with other people. Speaking correctly means saying what you want in a way that can be easily and clearly understood. Evaluate yourself;
- Do you talk to your parents the same way you talk to your younger brother or sister? Why?
- How do you talk to your best friend when he/she is happy? How do you talk to him/her when he or she is sad?
Effective decision-making skills
These skills enable a person to make good decisions. The following are the aspects of effective decision-making skills: Critical thinking, creative thinking, problem-solving and decision-making.
(a) Critical thinking
This is the ability of a person to develop a deep understanding of something. It helps a person to understand the environment in which he/she lives and problems which might prevent him or her from making proper decisions. Before making a decision, a critical thinker considers the advantages and disadvantages of various ways of doing something. Critical thinker helps a person to come up with ideas to solve problems. Evaluate yourself What problems does your school face? Can you find out their cause? Have you ever thought of how to solve them?
(b) Creative thinking
This is the ability to think and come up with new ideas and ways of doing things. In life, creative thinking helps an individual to come up with solutions that other people had not thought of. Evaluate yourself
- Have you found problems at your school or home which other people did not know of?
- Were you able to suggest solutions that other people had not thought of?
This is the ability to make the best choice out of many available options. The choice is made after considering its results. In life, it is important to think about consequences before making a decision. Evaluate yourself; Imagine your pen cannot write and you do not have money to buy a new one. How do you solve this problem?
Sources of Life Skills
People learn life skills from different sources. The following are the major ones.
- Family: Parents, guardians and other relatives are primary source from whom we learn different life skills.
- Neighbors: We learn the different ways that people live from our neighbors. Good neighbors help us to behave well.
- Friends: Friends helps us to acquire various life skills. Exchanging good ideas with friends help to mold us in to well-behaved individuals.
- Schools: The good education we get at school enables us to develop skills for life.
- Society: the way people live in the society allows an individual to learn what is expected of him/her and how he/she should behave in different circumstances.
- Religion: Good religion teachings help to get skills which enable us to live harmoniously in society Note: The above mentioned sources of life skills are sources of positive and progressive life skills.