How to Teach Time Management Skills to Teens

Teach your teen how to manage her time well.
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As teens become more independent, they need time management skills so they can complete their responsibilities on time. Your teen's future boss or college professors aren't likely to accept late work--or the excuses that accompany delayed projects. 

Teens who don't learn time management skills are at risk of becoming lifelong procrastinators. They may also struggle to manage stress and might have difficulty in relationships if they're chronically irresponsible.

That's why it's important to start teaching your teen how to manage his time wisely, without you nagging or nudging him along.

Benefits of Time Management Skills

High school can be very busy. But the adult world can be even busier. So it's important to start teaching your teen how to manage his time now. He'll enjoy immediate benefits such as:

  • Reduced anxiety when projects are due in school or test dates are approaching.
  • Increased responsibility and independence.
  • Better decision-making skills.
  • More time for family and friends.
  • Better performance at work and school.
  • More opportunities to relax and unwind.

Steps Parents Can Take To Teach Time Management Skills

Teens usually have fairly structured schedules. Their school day and their after school activities are planned out for them. As a result, many of them don't learn how to manage their time wisely.

Here are some steps you can take to teach your teen essential time management skills:

  1. Model good time management habits. If you're always running late or you miss a lot of deadlines, your teen will follow suit. Practice managing your own time wisely and show your teen that you can accomplish the most important tasks in any given day. 

  2. Give your teen time management tools. Whether it's a planner that your teen writes everything in or an app that manages your teen's schedule, help your teen find the tools that will work best for him. Talk about the importance of creating a schedule and using lists to prioritize his time wisely. 

  1. Encourage your teen to fill a schedule. Your teen's time may easily get taken up with video games or social media if he's not careful. Teach him to schedule his day so he can set aside time for chores, homework, and other responsibilities. Encourage him to schedule free time as well, so time doesn't idly pass without feeling like he hasn't done anything fun.

  2. Help your teen prioritize activities. It's common for teens to have conflicts in their schedules. A basketball game, birthday party, and church activity may all coincide. Talk to your teen about how to prioritize activities, based on his values and commitments

  3. Encourage your teenager to develop routines. Encourage your teen to establish healthy habits, like doing his chores right after school. Once he gets into the routine of doing things in a certain order, he won't have to waste time thinking about what to do next.

  4. Avoid nagging. It can be tempting to nag your teen or offer repeat reminders. But, telling your teen to do his homework or his chores over and over again, reduces his responsibility. Set rules about your expectations and follow through with consequences when necessary. Then, your teen will learn to manage his time better in the future.

    Encourage your teen to practice time management skills. There will definitely be times that she's going to miscalculate how long a project will take or days when she forgets a deadline. Help her learn from those mistakes, and remember, Rome wasn't built in a day.

    Updated by Amy Morin, LCSW.

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