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The term ‘Life Skills’ refers to the skills you need to make the most out of life. Any skill that is useful in your life can be considered a life skill. Tying your shoelaces, swimming, driving a car and using a computer are, for most people, useful life skills. Broadly speaking, the term ‘life skills’ is usually used for any of the skills needed to deal well and effectively with the challenges of life.

Defining Essential Life Skills

Life skills can be defined as abilities that enable humans to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of life. They may also be called psychosocial skills, as they are psychological in nature and include thinking and behavioural processes. Others define life skills as behavioural, cognitive, or interpersonal skills that enable individuals to succeed in various areas of life (Hodge, Danish, & Martin, 2013).

To clarify, life skills are often broken down into three types (​​Prajapati, Sharma, & Sharma, 2017):

Thinking skills: This might involve being able to think of multiple solutions to a problem or develop new innovations in a creative way.

Social skills: This might involve knowing how to develop healthy relationships, how to communicate in effective ways, and how to interact with others successfully.

Emotional skills: This might involve being comfortable in your own skin, dealing with emotions effectively, and knowing who you are.

The Importance of Life Skills

Research suggests that developing life skills may help reduce drug, alcohol, and tobacco use. It may also reduce aggression and violence (Botvin & Griffin, 2004). In addition to these bigger outcomes, life skills can just make life a bit easier. When we can regulate our emotions effectively and develop enduring, supportive relationships, we’re happier and healthier. Therefore, developing life skills is key not only to being successful in life, but it’s also key for our health and well-being.

Examples of Life Skills

According to several key organizations including UNICEF, UNESCO, and WHO, the following are the basic life skills (​​Prajapati, Sharma, & Sharma, 2017):

  • Self-awareness
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Decision making
  • Problem Solving
  • Effective communication
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Empathy
  • Coping with stress
  • Coping with emotion

Of course, these skills overlap, with each of them aiding and supporting the others. There may also be other life skills and there may be subcategories of life skills within each of these basic life skill types.

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