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Helping Teenagers Be Responsible

by Victoria Thompson

If you plan to sit your teen down and give a lecture on responsibility, you likely will be talking to yourself and to the wall. Teenagers learn by doing and also from observing parents. Gradually assign your teen responsibilities suitable for his age and maturity level. A 13-year-old can't have the same freedoms as a 17-year-old. Greater responsibility is an earned privilege that helps a teen grow into a productive adult.

Provide Choices

Giving your teenager a choice helps him visualize alternatives and understand the consequences of actions. Parents have to lessen control and offer their teen the opportunity to begin with small choices, like what to cook for dinner or which clothes to buy. Take it step by step and gradually move to more complicated decisions. Assist your teen in the decision making, but let the ultimate choice be his.

Listen to Your Teen

Listen to your teen before giving your opinion on a topic. Let him know he can talk to you about choices and decisions he's making. Discuss his plans with him and what he would like the outcome of his choices to be. Later, after he's made the choice, ask whether he could've or should've done anything differently. He can talk through his decision-making with his parents and help refine how to make careful, thoughtful choices. Do not overreact during this communication or he might not feel safe sharing feelings with you.

Teach the Value of Money

Your teen will deal with money for the rest of his life, so it's important to teach him the value of it. Help him create a bank account to save money from a part-time job or allowances. Pay your teen for completing small tasks successfully and delete payments for any incomplete task. Author and counselor Timothy Sanford states that, "Incurring fees for irresponsibility can serve as personal reminders for teens." Showing your teen how to use his own money to budget and make purchases will lessen the chances of him asking you for money each time he wants to buy an item.

Assign Household Duties

Test your teen's responsibility within the home. Assign him a section of the house that he's responsible for maintaining. Give him a checklist of what you want done and also discuss it verbally. If you find that you have to constantly remind him of the checklist, he may not be prepared for more responsibility. When he can work independently, without continual parental guidance, this shows a level of maturity and that's he ready for added responsibilities outside of the home.

About the Author

Based in North Carolina, Victoria Thompson has taught middle school for the past 15 years. She holds a Masters of Education in middle school instruction from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She teaches English daily to English as a second language students.

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