Interpersonal/Communication skills – include verbal and non-verbal communication and more

 III What are the Main Components of Life Skills?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) categorizes life skills into the following
three components:
a) Critical thinking skills/Decision-making skills – include decisionmaking/problem solving skills and information gathering skills. The individual
must also be skilled at evaluating the future consequences of their present actions
and the actions of others. They need to be able to determine alternative solutions and
to analyze the influence of their own values and the values of those around them.

 b) Interpersonal/Communication skills – include verbal and non-verbal
communication, active listening, and the ability to express feelings and give feed
back. Also in this category, are negotiation/refusal skills and assertiveness skills that
directly affect ones’ ability to manage conflict. Empathy, which is the ability to listen
and understand others’ needs, is also a key interpersonal skill. Teamwork and the
ability to cooperate include expressing respect for those around us. Development of
this skill set enables the adolescent to be accepted in society. These skills result in the
acceptance of social norms that provide the foundation for adult social behaviour.
c) Coping and self-management skills refers to skills to increase the internal locus of
control, so that the individual believes that they can make a difference in the world
and affect change. Self esteem, self-awareness, self-evaluation skills and the ability to
set goals are also part of the more general category of self-management skills. Anger,
grief and anxiety must all be dealt with, and the individual learns to cope loss or
trauma. Stress and time management are key, as are positive thinking and relaxation

 UNICEF promotes the understanding that the life skills approach can be
successful, if the following are undertaken together:
a) The Skills -This involves a group of psychosocial and interpersonal skills
(described in section 3) which are interlinked with each other. For example, decisionmaking is likely to involve creative and critical thinking components and values
b) Content - To effectively influence behaviour, skills must be utilized in a particular
content area. “What are we making decisions about?" Learning about decisionmaking will be more meaningful if the content is relevant and remains constant.
Such content areas as described could be drug use, HIV/AIDS/STI prevention,
suicide prevention or sexual abuse. Whatever the content area, a balance of three
elements needs to be considered: knowledge, attitudes and skills.
c) Methods - Skills-based education cannot occur when there is no interaction among
participants. It relies on groups of people to be effective. Interpersonal and
Module 7: Life Skills
psychosocial skills cannot be learned from sitting alone and reading a book. If this
approach is to be successful, all three components, life skills, content and method
should be in place. This effectively means that life skills can be learnt through the use
of certain methods and tools.

 IV Criteria for using Life Skills.
NICEF identifies the following criteria to ensure a successful life skillsbased education:
ß It should not only address knowledge and attitude change, but, more
importantly, behaviour change.
ß Traditional "information-based" approaches are generally not sufficient to
yield changes in attitudes and behaviours. For example, a lecture on “safe
behaviour” will not necessarily lead to the practice of safe behaviour.
Therefore, the lecture should be substantiated with exercises and situations
where participants can practice safe behaviour and experience its effects. The
adult learning theory emphasizes that adults learn best that which they can
associate with their experience and practice.

 ß It will work best when augmented or reinforced. If a message is given once,
the brain remembers only 10 percent of it one day later, and when the same
message is given six times a day, the brain remembers 90 percent of it. Hence
the need to repeat, recap, reinforce and review.
ß It will work best if combined with policy development, access to appropriate
health services, community development and media.
V How can Life Skills Help Young People make
Better Choices concerning their Health?
eveloping life skills helps adolescents translate knowledge, attitudes and
values into healthy behaviour, such as acquiring the ability to reduce special
health risks and adopt healthy behaviour that improve their lives in general
(such as planning ahead, career planning, decision-making, and forming positive
relationships). The adolescents of today grow up surrounded by mixed messages
about sex, drug use, alcohol and adolescent pregnancy. On one hand, parents and
teachers warn of the dangers of early and promiscuous sex, adolescent pregnancy,
STDs/HIV/AIDS, drugs and alcohol, and on the other hand, messages and
behaviour from entertainers and peer pressure contradict those messages. Often,
they even promote the opposite behaviour. 

It is through life skills that teenagers can
fight these challenges and protect themselves from teenage pregnancy, STDs,
HIV/AIDS, drug violence, sexual abuse, and many other health-related problems.
Hopefully, developing life skills among adolescents will empower girls to avoid
pregnancy until they reach physical and emotional maturity, develop in both boys
and girls responsible and safe sexual behaviour, sensitivity and equity in gender
relations, prepare boys and young men to be responsible fathers and friends,
encourage adults, especially parents, to listen and respond to young people, help
Module 7: Life Skills
young people avoid risks and hardships and involve them in decisions that affect
their lives.

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