Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
What Benjamin Franklin said best applies to teenagers in teaching them essential life skills and responsibility. Parents have a huge role in navigating this formative phase for their kids that affects how our kids live and impact the world around them later as adults. Teaching your kids to take responsibility for their decisions and actions helps them develop into conscientious human beings and responsible community citizens.
Here are some everyday strategies that can be used to teach your teens responsibility and accountability.
Model responsibility– If you want your teen to take responsibility for their actions, you should do the same. Show up on time, be honest, and avoid blaming others. Be ready to accept your mistakes, apologize when necessary, and make amends if possible. Simple things like picking up your child from school or activities on time or leaving a note on a car if you accidentally hit it while parking go a long way in teaching accountability.
Create routine and structure– Helping your teenagers with time management is one of the most crucial life skills you can teach to help them become successful adults. Discuss this with your teen, create practical schedules, and help them implement them. Revisit schedules and be open to reasonable changes with changing demands in their/your lives.
Be involved in your teen’s life– The value of open and honest communication with your teens cannot be stressed enough. Research shows that kids of involved parents do better in school and are less involved in high-risk behaviors such as drugs and crime.
But do not be over-involved and overcontrolling– Expressing trust in your teen’s capabilities and allowing them to be independent is crucial for making them, responsible adults. Allow your kids to make choices and involve them in some family decisions such as trips or shopping for the house. It develops their confidence and helps them establish their own identity.
Set limits and be clear about consequences– Whether it is doing chores at home or their social activities or their curfew times, be clear and discuss with your teens and reach a consensus regarding your expectations. Discuss the consequences of not meeting expectations beforehand and implement them. Do not rescue your teen from facing the consequences- this is one of the most common pitfalls that sets your teenager up for unreal expectations and failures later in life. Teenagers should learn that they bear the consequences of their mistakes in life. If they lost a library book or damaged a phone, let them pay for it with their allowance in full or in part.
Positive reinforcement– Everyone likes to be appreciated for their efforts. Let your teen know and reward them when they have acted responsibly or for a job well done. It boosts their motivation and self-esteem and pushes them to do more good acts leading to a responsible teen.
Teach them essential life skills– Whether it is cooking, managing finances, cleaning the yard, or basic repairs around the house, involving your kids in these activities from their teenage years will make them independent and confident as adults.
Discuss world issues and have an open discourse– We live in a global world with constantly changing demands and pressing issues, including topics such as pandemics, wars, public health crises, climate change, and gun violence. Teenagers are using social media and the internet for their recreation and socialization and for their education and activities. Be aware of who they are connecting with on these platforms and what they are participating in. Discuss issues related to cyberbullying, trolling, inappropriate materials, and interactions. Listen to their opinions about world events and foster their passions to work towards their interests.
Encourage volunteering and giving back to the community– Research has shown that teens who engage in community service are more responsible with higher self-esteem and resilience. Volunteering helps the teens gain new skills necessary for the job market, such as leadership, communication skills, dependability, time management, and decision making, which empower them for the rest of their lives.
Each teenager is different and is motivated differently. Strategies that are met with success in some teenagers can fail in some others. Be flexible with your approach. Some teenagers are natural leaders, some are naturally responsible, and some need training. Use your child’ s cues and personality as the basis to craft your approach towards training your teenager to become a responsible adult.