How to Manage an Irresponsible Tween

Don't expect your tween to be totally responsible

Your child is still learning about responsibility, so be patient.

 Your tween is getting taller, looking different, and learning new skills just about everyday. It's only natural that you would expect your child to also be responsible, from time to time. But developing a sense of responsibility doesn't always come quickly, easy, or naturally to a tween. Your child's body might be growing, but his brain is taking a little longer to completely develop. If you're wondering whether your tween is becoming irresponsible, because he doesn't clean up after himself or remember to do his homework, there's probably nothing to worry about.

Just head the tips below and let time work its magic on your child's brain and intellect.

Be Patient

Try not to expect too much from your tween too soon. He's still developing and although he may look older, he's nowhere near being an adult, or even a teenager. Be patient with your child and use every opportunity you have to work with him so that he does eventually master skills and develop a sense of independence and responsibility.

Enforce Delayed Gratification

Tweens and teens don't always understand or anticipate the results of their actions. Talking back to a teacher might seem cool at the time, and your tween might enjoy the notoriety he gets from his classmates. But he may not think that his bad behavior will result in after school suspension or another hard to swallow consequence. You can help your tween think ahead by teaching delayed gratification. For example, you could say, "I made a batch of cookies for you today, you can have a few tonight after dinner and when you're homework is finished."

Reward Those Special Moments

When your tween surprises you by cleaning his room without being asked or helping a younger sibling with her chores, be sure to let your child know that you noticed his willingness to jump in and tackle a project without being asked. Try to find a nice way of thanking your tween for his efforts -- it may result in even more incidents and allow your child to get used to taking on responsibility.


Keep Your Tween on Track

Tweens can be forgetful and that can lead to a wide variety of problems, from unfinished homework to having no clean clothes, to forgetting to feed the dog or clean the cat boxes. Help your tween stay on track of his responsibilities with a calendar, or a system that will remind him of what he needs to do and when. Keeping your tween on track will help him learn time management skills, which is a first step to becoming responsible and independent.

Enforce Consequences

You don't want to be heavy handed, but sometimes the best way for a child to learn is through consequences. If your child forgets to study for a test, he'll need to suffer the consequences. If your tween promised to clean out the garage but didn't, then be sure to follow through on whatever you think is appropriate -- such as taking away television privileges or not allowing your child to have his cell phone for a certain amount of time. For some tweens, learning the hard way is an effective incentive to embrace responsibilities and the challenges of growing up.

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