Perhaps one of the most difficult things parents must do is teach responsibility to their teenagers. It can be hard to find the fine line between stifling them with rules and letting them make their own decisions and often mistakes. Here are a few tips to help get you on the right track toward instilling responsibility in your teenagers.
1. Set expectations
In order to lay the groundwork for teaching your teens, you must set up expectations for them. If your teen does not have clear duties and things they must do, they will never learn how to be responsible. The best way to set up these expectations is to say, “You will do X every week, or Y will happen.” Remember that sometimes the best consequences are ones that happen naturally as a result of their actions (or inaction). One of the most important things you can do is stick to your word. Consequences must be carried out and rewards must be given if promised.
2. Make them work for what they want
Kids who grow up getting everything handed to them on a silver platter may never develop a strong work ethic or see the connection between hard work and personal gain. It’s important that your teen learns that working is an integral part of every person’s life. Some families choose to pay their teens for good grades instead of making them get a job where some families think having a job is a great idea. Discuss how your family will handle the job situation and move forward from there.
3. Give them financial control
Tell your teens that when they enter high school that you won’t be paying for certain things: ex. Clothes, entertainment, gifts for friends, etc. Make sure they know that you will pay for the essentials and keep a roof over their head but most other expenses will be theirs to handle. Giving them control over most of their finances at a young age will teach them how to budget as well as the value of money. This concept is often key in developing patterns for their future spending habits.
4. Point out connections between action and consequence
As often as you can, try to talk to your teenager about the direct connection between a person’s actions and the consequences, whether good or bad. Sometimes they have to learn by making mistakes, and other times they will be able to see the connection and make the right choices. If you can get them to understand this you will have gone a long way to instilling responsibility in them.
Remember that your teenagers do have a certain degree of free will and the amount of influence you can exert over them is limited. They are going to make increasingly more of their own decisions and the best you can do is set reasonable expectations and take a firm stance. Ultimately, your goal is to teach your teens how to think and to take care of themselves. Set a good example and provide the structure for them to learn. Whether or not they decide to follow the path you have outlined is up to them.
About the author: Julia is a writer passionate about health, fitness & family. When she’s not running her dog she can sometimes be found writing about laser liposuction, cooking and a myriad of other topics. Image: courtesy of empoweredteensandparents.com.