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

Need for life skills
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
are three major types of life skills. These are: individual life
skills, social skills and effective decision- making skills.

Individual life skills
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

The importance of Individual life skills
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
(a). Self-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.
Evaluate yourself
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
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
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?
(d). 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?

Social skills
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
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
pressure is when 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 drug abusing and escaping 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?
(c). Empathy
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?
(d). Negotiation
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
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
  • 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
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
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
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?
(c). Decision-making
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.
  1. Family: Parents, guardians and other relatives are primary source from whom we learn different life skills.
  2. Neighbors: We learn the different ways that people live from our neighbors. Good neighbors help us to behave well.
  3. Friends:
    Friends helps us to acquire various life skills. Exchanging good ideas
    with friends help to mold us in to well-behaved individuals.
  4. Schools: The good education we get at school enables us to develop skills for life.
  5. 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
  6. 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.
The Importance of Life Skills
skills are very important because they help develop abilities which are
necessary for making life better. Some of the things that these skills
enable us to do include:
  • Make proper decisions in life on different matters, like friendships, which subjects to study in school and what career to pursue.
  • Develop good behavior.
    Through social skills, a person is able to avoid bad friends and
    anti-social behavior such as smoking, drug abuse, abusing alcohol and
    getting into premature sexual relationships.
  • Increase love and understanding for other people because of good social skills.
  • Respond effectively
    to different situations. Through life skills, a person is able to
    handle unfortunate occurrences such as divorce, death of friends or
    relatives, examination pressure or any form of harassment or
  • Maintain peace and order. Negotiation skills enable people to solve their problems peacefully. This helps prevent conflict.
  • Understand the environment
    and ways to fit in it because you have skills to solve any problem
    around you. It also helps to maintain the culture of your community.
How to Use Social Skills
skills help a person to know and live with others peacefully. They give
a person knowledge and ability to live a better life with other people
in the society. Social skills consist of the ability to form good
relationship with other people, make good friends, show empathy, exhibit
peer resistance, negotiate effectively and have effective
communication. We can use social skills in the following ways:
  1. Forming
    relationship with other people
    – This skill enables one to know how to
    behave in each relationship. It helps a person to behave properly
    according to the prevailing situation.
  2. Making good friends – A
    person can use this skill to make good friends. Good friends are those
    who: (i). Respect and assist us, our parents, relatives and elders (ii).
    Go to school and school rules. (iii). Assist each other when in
    problems (iv). Correct each other when one misbehave
  3. Showing
    – this is the ability to feel what others are going through,
    especially when they are experiencing problems. This social skill
    enables one to understand other people’s problems and show feelings. It
    enables a person to take part in finding out ways to solve other
    people’s problems.
  4. Exhibiting peer resistance – A person who
    have proper social skills is able to resist bad influences from his/her
    peers or friends. Such a person does not do things that are unacceptable
    to society, for example fighting, prostitution, theft and truancy.
  5. Displaying
    effective communication
    – Proper communication can be used to establish
    good relationships with others people. It is through effective
    speaking, writing and listening that a person can establish
    relationships with others.
  6. Problem – solving – This is the social skill that enables a person to make a proper decisions in difficult times.
Consequences of not Applying Social Skills
Failure to apply life skills can lead to problems. Some of these problems are:
  • Improper
    People may make wrong choices in their education and future
    careers. A person may find him/herself make wrong choices by studying
    subjects which he/she cannot fit in.
  • Bad behavior: People may
    develop bad behavior. For example, the youth may not respect their
    parents, teacher and elders, due to negative peer pressure. They may
    also get into drug abuse or stealing.
  • Conflicts: Conflicts can
    occur due to lack of negotiation skills. Such conflicts could be among
    students, in families, in communities or between countries.
  • Poverty:
    Poverty may occur or increase due to lack of proper decision-making in
    the society or country. Lack of creative skills to bring about
  • Poor leadership: Lack of good communication between leaders and the citizens can lead to poor leadership.
  • Lack
    of empathy:
    Lack of empathy may lead to increased suffering for those
    who have problems as those who do not have problems may not understand
    their circumstances.
Exercise 1
Write `T` for true statements and `F` for false statements
  • Life skills enable a person to know what to do at a certain times and what not to do.
  • Individual life skill is the ability of an individual to know himself or herself.
  • Self- awareness enables a person to understand others in various circumstances.
  • The ability to handle emotions which enables a person to control his or her feelings is among of individual life skills.
  • Social skills give an individual the knowledge and ability to live according to the needs of the society
Exercise 2
Fill in the blanks.
  • The
    ability of a person to communicate with others while considering their
    mood, age and back ground is called————————
  • ——–, ——–, and ——– are the primary source from whom we learn different life skills.
  • ——————–is the ability to make the best choice out of many available options.
  • The ability of a person to resist negative influences from others is called——–.
  • Lack of negotiation skills may lead to ————-


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