Giving your teen chores is an effective way to teach him responsibility.

How to Make a Teen More Responsible

by Erin Schreiner

If your teen typically wastes away her days, sleeping past noon and doing little but flipping channels and texting when she's awake, she might need some lessons in responsibility. Though irresponsibility is largely characteristic of teens, if you simply grumble and groan about the behavior rather than trying to change it, you're enabling your teen to remain lazy. Actively teaching your teen lessons in responsibility, helps prepare her to become a productive adult.

Give your teen responsibilities in your household. Though she probably won't like it, your teen should do chores. Chores teach basic domestic survival skills and will enable her to live independently and with roommates. Chores also foster self-discipline and order, which are foundations for successful employment, notes Fred Provenzano, Ph.D., a private practitioner who focuses on child, adolescent and family therapy in Seattle. Give your teen specific tasks to complete weekly, and follow up to make sure she does them. When you give her the new chores, explain to her that you have assigned the tasks because she is old enough, mature enough and responsible enough to handle them.

Talk about choices. Your teen must understand that she makes choices every day, notes the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. For example, explain that it is her choice if she wants to spend extra time studying for an exam. She also makes choices regarding who she chooses as her friends and what she does in her free time. Discuss how poor choices can affect her future, such as how not studying can prevent her from going to the college of her choice. Tell her that if she makes positive choices, she will reap rewards. On the flip side, caution her that making irresponsible choices will result in consequences.

Let your teen make decisions. If you are continually dictating what your teen can and cannot do, you are actually discouraging him from taking responsibility. Instead of ruling with an iron fist, start to hand over some of your power to your heir apparent -- your teen. For example, if you teen doesn't want to get up for baseball practice on Saturday morning, instead of nagging him to get out of bed, let him miss practice and face the natural consequence of getting benched by the coach. Also, involve your teen in family decisions. For example, before deciding where you will go on your next vacation, ask your teen for his input. Allowing your teen to make some simple decisions provides practice for making bigger decisions and also builds self-confidence.

Require your teen to solve her own problems. If your teen brings home a bad grade, don’t call her teacher to discuss the problem and to ask how your teen can improve her grade. Instead, have your teen approach the teacher about tutoring or doing a project for extra credit. While your desire to help is logical -- and handling it yourself might be easier -- if you continue to go to bat for your teen, you give her no reason to step up to the plate and take responsibility.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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