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Raising a teenager is hard. Trying to make them more responsible can be even harder. It's easy to let your teen have their way because it's easier, but that just leads down the path of responsibility failure as an adult.
Here are 7 ways you can help your child become more responsible and grow into the person they need to be, and for you to feel confident enough about their future so that you don't worry every day about what will happen when they leave home!
To teach responsibility, they need to practice it. The best way to do that is by giving them things they can be responsible for. One of the best options would be chores. While you can't give them all of their responsibilities at once, it's easy to start with something simple like having them help clean up after dinner or walking the dog. However, if your teen is older they should have more responsibility, like doing their laundry, cooking dinner, or even cleaning the bathroom. These are all things your child will have to do when they leave home, so why not get them used to it early?
Let them make their own choices:
Letting a teen choose for themselves is one of the most important lessons in responsibility you can teach them because this is key in helping them become an adult! If your teen is old enough they should be allowed to pick where they go after school with friends as long as they are home by a certain time. You can even set rules around what activities they're allowed to do, what they're not allowed to do, when they should be checking in, etc. These rules can vary depending on the age of your child. For example, if they are younger you could allow them to make decisions on their outfits, or give them several options to choose from, etc.
Let them make their own appointments:
While your teen is still in school and has a set schedule it's easy to let them make their own appointments. These could be appointments with their doctor, to get their hair cut, to see their therapist, etc. This helps them overcome their fears of talking on the phone with people, helps them learn how to coordinate their schedule, and increases their independence.
This is so beneficial to your teen because this allows them to learn how to do these things with you there as support. Instead of having to learn the hard way as an adult, or becoming overwhelmed and not knowing what to do.
They need to learn how to fail:
This is by far one of the most crucial steps to teaching your teen responsibility and allowing them to become successful adults. Your teen needs to learn how to fail, in life, in school, at home, in sports, etc. The reality that your teen faces are that life isn't always a nice place, and there are going to be times throughout their life when they fail or fall short.
Some of the best lessons learned in life came out of failures or failed attempts, so if your teen isn't making them, then they aren't learning important life lessons. You can't succeed if you don't fail. Yes, we want to protect our children, we don't want to see them hurt, or fail. However, we need to allow them to fail and learn from it so that they can grow stronger and become more successful adults.
Let there be consequences:
While we know our teen isn't perfect and they will make mistakes everyone needs to face consequences for their actions or lack thereof as an adult does. This is crucial, because if we don't have consequences for decisions or actions then we don't teach our teens anything! If we just keep making the consequences and bad choices easier and easier for them they never learn what is expected of them as an adult.
For instance, if you catch your teen doing something they shouldn't be doing, but you don't have a consequence for that action, you are telling them that it is okay and that they won't be punished if they do it again. Teens who don't have consequences keep going down the wrong path because nothing is telling them not to.
Think about if you have ever been reprimanded or fired at work, did you make the same mistake again in another job? Probably not, because you learned it was wrong and that you would lose your job or get in trouble for doing it.
Lead by example:
If you want responsible teens then you need to be responsible as a parent. Your teen is watching your every move, learning from you, and taking in all that you do. If they see that you're irresponsible when it comes to working, school, family responsibilities, etc., then why would they be any different? You are their biggest role model so if YOU aren't responsible what kind of example does that set for them?
And no, we're not perfect, but we can always grow and improve ourselves, especially for our kid's sake.
Set expectations and stick to them:
You need to set boundaries, rules, and consequences for your teen's behavior. This way they know what is expected of them as an adult. If you don't lay down the groundwork now when they are young then it will be harder as a teenager or even as an adult because there were no guidelines.
Think about that friend you had in school who got to do everything, never had chores, never got into trouble, and was just handed everything. I'm sure as a teen you envied them, but as an adult, you're probably so grateful that wasn't your life because what happened to that teen when they grew up? I know those teens had a rough time as an adult. They had to learn everything the hard way, didn't know how to take care of themselves, didn't know how to be responsible...
We love our children, and we want the best for them, but sometimes keeping them in a bubble, not giving them opportunities to be responsible, not letting them fail, we're doing them a disservice. I have friends and family members who are now in their 30's or 40's and still have mom and dad taking care of them, their bills, and their appointments... they have no responsibility, and now rely so heavily on mom and dad that they wouldn't know how to survive without them.
And if you're thinking well I don't mind that, I'm okay with my children always being around and me making sure they're taken care of, etc. let me ask you a question... What happens when something happens to you? These adults that still rely so heavily on their parents are going to have a much worse wake-up call when you're not there anymore. And if not taught at a young age how to be responsible and deal with hardship, then we start seeing things like mental health issues, drug & alcohol abuse, etc.
So please, think about what you're doing for your children by taking away the opportunity of failure and giving them a life full of opportunities. It may seem easier on you in the short term but trust me it's not going to be worth it later down the road when they aren't responsible and can't take care of themselves.
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