Teaching teens responsibility can either be the most difficult heart wrenching experience or just maybe…. it can be easier than we think.
Moms and dads, you know those expressions our kids can toss our way when we try to give them advice on making responsible choices. Whether it’s getting out of bed early on a Saturday, making curfew or figuring out who they should be hanging out with.
We open our mouth and the eyes roll or the attitude starts. (We’ve all been there.)
What if there was a way to avoid this and if you were, at the same time, teaching teens responsibility through their own decisions?
Best Advice on Teaching Teens Responsibility
As Christina Ellis explains in our interview, the important step you need to take is encouraging kids to take ownership.
Let’s face it, kids aren’t expected to take much ownership during their childhood. And by ownership, I mean, making their own decisions and then accepting the consequences that follow.
The bell rings and they go from one class to another. The final bell rings and they get on the bus. Dinner is made and they’re told to sit down and join the family at dinner.
But by the time they’re teens, letting a child take ownership can have a big impact on confidence… and also teach them the importance of things like planning and preparation.
When you make excuses, when you don’t show up leading your OWN life, you just get pushed around by others… and this will continue until you DO start to take ownership for your own life.
As Christina points out, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is that everything that happens to you is within your control. The good news is that everything that happens to you is within your control.
Which means you have the ability to step up, take ownership for your life and your decisions and, hopefully, make good ones.
But this isn’t possible without a vision for what you want for your life.
For example, how will a teen know if a decision is or isn’t in alignment with his goals if he doesn’t have goals to begin with? If he knows he wants to go on to law school, for example, hanging out with kids who are doing drugs and heading down a negative path isn’t a good idea. You could easily get caught up in that life.
Parents need to help kids get clear on what they’re passionate about, get clear on their vision, and then check in with their teen to see if the decisions he or she is making are in alignment with that vision.
It’s possible that childhood friends are going down a path that isn’t in alignment with your child’s vision. He doesn’t have to stop being friends with those kids, but it may be necessary to put some healthy boundaries in place to avoid certain situations. Your child may also need to find other friends to hang out with in addition to those childhood friends, new friends who have similar goals for their lives.
But by simply pointing out that the behavior perhaps isn’t in alignment with what your child wants for his or her life (while avoiding saying negative things about the friends, themselves), your child will on his own start to put those boundaries in place.
Conclusion: How to Raise a Responsible Teenager
When your child enters into the teenage years, you can’t force him or her to do something. And if you do, it will always end badly.
The best thing you can do is motivate him or her intrinsically. And the best way to do this is to help him identify the vision he has for his life and then start to notice whether the decisions and behaviors your child has are in alignment with that vision.
And let your child take ownership for his or her decisions. Start to loosen the reigns a bit and move from teaching to training, as Mark Gregston explains. Let your child make more decisions and then take responsibility for those decisions.
But by starting with the vision, the ultimate goal, your child will be able to clearly identify whether a decision is good or bad. Simply put: does it put me further toward or further away from my vision? Or could it impact the vision I have for my life, positively or negatively?
And then he or she will be able to find the answer on his or her own.