Youth Need to Know, too.

Survival Skills for Teens


Have you discussed basic survival techniques with the young people in your home? If they were lost or were involved in an accident, would they know what to do? School is back in session and your children are away from home most of the day, now is the time to review these skills.

As your children grow up, starting at a very young age they learn their name, address and telephone number. They also learn how to dial 9-1-1. Let’s not forget riding a bike and swimming. Do they know how to find their way home in your neighborhood or town? What about basic survival skills?  What if your family went on a hike and somehow got separated, or an adult was injured? Would they know what to do? Teens were not born knowing everything, even though there are some who will argue that. Sharing these life lessons may be critical some day.

Teaching Survival Skills Builds Resilience

Before we get into some of the things they should know, let’s discuss how to share this as parents, guardians and mentors. The goal of raising children to become responsible adults involves teaching them more that reading, writing and arithmetic. They need to learn other skills, like critical thinking, leadership and teamwork. Sam Goldstein, a neuropsychologist and co-author of Raising Resilient Children, recommends a fourth “R”, that of resilience. It may be the most valuable skill of all.

We need to be empathetic, communicate with respect, be flexible and give undivided attention. Kids need to be given a chance to solve problems and make decisions on their own and help get projects done. Mistakes need to be used as learning experiences, with strengths recognized, and any corrections or discipline administered with love and kindness. Resilience means bouncing back.

What Survival Skills Should a Teen Know?

  • Not Panic – This is one of the most basic of survival skills. In panic-mode we make bad decisions. Frightened youth, with limited life experiences, may do things which could be life threatening.
  • Be Aware – Does your child know how to decide if they should run, hide or fight back? Are they aware of where you are going, whether walking or riding on a bike or in an auto? Do they know which places are dangerous to go to and what people and types of behaviors that may put them in a compromising situation? As much as we would like to keep our youth in a protective bubble, they need to learn to recognize that bad things happen, even to good people, and they need to know how to handle them.
  • First Aid – Do your children know how to stop bleeding, remove a splinter or treat a burn? Taking a Red Cross CPR/First Aid class or practicing some of the skills in that Boy Scout Book of First Aid you have in your Bug-out-Bag may be a good weekend family project.
  • How to Handle a Firearm – Every teen should take a gun safety course. A child who knows how to handle a gun safely is less likely to be involved in a shooting mishap. He/she may need to know how to use a firearm for a number of reasons.
  • Feed Himself – This skill can range from opening a can without an electric can opener, using a stove safely, harvesting and preparing garden produce, or hunting, cleaning and preparing game. They should know how to set up and use a Sun Oven®.
  • Self Defense – Do your children know how to defend themselves against an attacker; when to run?
  • Get Back Home – Another fun weekend project, day or night. Also, make a family fire escape plan.
  • Skills – Can your child use simple tools – hammer, drill, paint brush or screwdriver – something other than a game box?
  • Stay Warm – Can they build a shelter, start a fire and understand the importance of warmth?
  • Getting Help – Do they know who to ask and how to leave clues if they’re lost?
  • Pack Their own 72 hr. Emergency Kit – Youth should be responsible for selecting most of the items in their emergency bug-out-bag. This is another good family project that should be updated every six months.

Do you know all these skills?  Share them.      

Goldstein, Sam and Robert Brooks. Raising Resilient Children (McGraw-Hill, 2002)

Thanks to Mom with a Prep for some of these pointers.

Billie and Robert Nicholson
August 2014
updated June 2018


Other articles in the August 2014 Newsletter include:

Are You Water Competent?

Ebola Update by Dr. Bones


The Fascinating Fig

Sun Oven Demonstrations coming to a location near you

Are You Losing 40%

Meatless Monday Pasta Sauce

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