Developing life skills can help young people to avoid violence, by improving their social & emotional competence, teaching them how to deal effectively & non violently with conflict & helping to find them employment.
The WHO briefing for preventing violence by developing life skills in children & adolescents (2009), defines life skills as ‘abilities for adaptive & positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands & challenges of everyday life”. These include cognitive, emotional, interpersonal & social skills to foster:
- Self Awareness – Self esteem & confidence building, self monitoring, self-evaluation, goal setting
- Self Management – Anger & stress management, time management, coping skills, controlling impulses, relaxation
- Social Awareness – Empathy, active listening, recognising & appreciating individual & group differences
- Relationships – Negotiation, conflict management, resisting peer pressure, networking, motivation
- Responsible Decision Making – Information gathering, critical thinking, evaluating consequences of actions
Evidence by WHO research (2009) suggests that pre-school enrichment & social development programs, which target children early in life, can prevent aggression, improve social skills, boost educational achievement & improve job prospects. Where effective, the benefits of such programs are most pronounced in children from poor families & neighbourhoods & can be sustained into adulthood