Tips to Help Parents Teach Teens Responsibility

Why giving teens chores and an allowance can help

teen girl doing laundry chores
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Parents often complain that their teens lack a sense of responsibility, but they often fail to ask themselves if they've actually tried to teach their kids how to be responsible. Do they set consequences, for example, when their teen children forget to do their homework or leave a chore undone?

Many parents also forget to set expectations for teens. It's difficult to have responsible teenagers when parents fail to make responsibility an expectation.

When parents formally develop a set of expectations for their teen, they begin to set the teen up for success in meeting those expectations. 

That’s the first step in learning to handle responsibilities. If you're not sure which expectations to set for your child, consult the tips that follow. They've been grouped by age level.

And don't be too hard on yourself, or on your teen, if the adolescent in your life may not be capable of taking on all of these responsibilities just yet. Few teens will be good at meeting all of these duties, so pick and choose a few and add more responsibilities when you feel your teen can handle them.

Responsibilities Even Preteens Can Handle

Preteens aren't too young to have responsibilities. In fact, preteens in your grandparents' day likely carried out a laundry list of duties that today's preteens have avoided, thanks, in part, to a more technology-driven society.

While your preteens likely won't be helping you run a farm, they can indeed manage an allowance or make plans with friends without needing you to step in and carry out all of the arrangements. 

There's absolutely no reason that able-bodied small children can't execute useful, daily habits such as making their bed, picking up toys or cleaning up their room.

They may even enjoy chores such as weekly vacuuming or dusting--under your careful eye. 

Preteens should also be able to jot down phone messages and leave them in a place where someone will be likely to see them, such as the kitchen counter or on the refrigerator.

Responsibilities Older Teens Can Handle

Older teens should be able to execute all of the responsibilities preteens can handle, such as cleaning their room. Moreover, they should be able to perform a daily household chore, such as washing the dinner dishes, straightening the family room or wiping down the bathroom.

Older teens should also be able to help out with the weekly household chores--be they sweeping the floors or doing laundry. If the teen drives, she should be able to make sure the gas gauge in the car does not go below a quarter of a tank. Teens should also be able to mark special dates and plans on the family calendar or planner.

Wrapping Up

Be sure to praise your teenager when he accomplishes his responsibilities. A simple hug and a “good job” will go a long way.

And remember, your teen may not polish the china or dust exactly like you do, and that's perfectly all right.

Your teen isn't a carbon copy of you and may even excel at some chores that you hate. If you want your teen to continue doing chores, don't be overly critical of the way he does them, unless it's obvious he didn't give it his best effort.

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