10 Ways to Encourage Responsibility in our Teenagers


4. Wake themselves up.  By the time they are fourteen, your teens should be able to set an alarm.  And get themselves up and to school on time without your intervention.

5. Advocate for themselves with adults.  Maybe it’s a boss or club sponsor or teacher.  Whoever your child is having issues with, he/she needs to be able to speak to that person, respectfully, about the issues concerning them.  Fighting all of their battles does not help them learn how to communicate for their needs.  If you’ve always handled every situation with every teacher without giving them the authority to do so, how will they know what to do when they are in college and you have no access to their professors, grades, registrations?  Let them speak for themselves and only step in when it is absolutely necessary.

6. Shop for themselves.  Yes, you should approve what they wear to an extent.  Obviously, your girls shouldn’t have free reign to wear the shortest shorts/dresses or your sons shouldn’t have stacks of lewd and inappropriate t-shirts.  But you need to teach them what you expect and give them the freedom to begin to make their own choices.  And to know their own sizes.  How embarrassing will it be if they need new underwear when they are 20 and have no clue what size they wear because you just always took care of that?

7. Pay a bill.  By paying a bill, they learn to budget.  They realize that money isn’t all disposable.  They choose something they really want and they become responsible for getting and maintaining it.  By having them begin to pay a bill they further begin to understand the value of money.  And the difference between wants and needs.

8. Have chores.  Every member of the family should contribute to the upkeep and running of the household.  Your home is not a hotel and your teen should not treat it as such.  They should have chores that they are responsible for before they can go out with their friends or participate in activities.  Because those things are luxuries.  Don’t make life easy for your teen – don’t cut them a break.  They will expect it when they are gone from your house (or worse, will never want to leave).  Make them earn their keep.  And not for money.

9. Keep a calendar.  To function in the real world they are going to need to know how to schedule appointments, keep up with that schedule and show up on time.  Let them start now.  You would hate it if they lost their first job because they were late and unorganized.  It will be unacceptable in six years to be disorganized, late, and entitled.  Start now teaching them how to cope.

10. Have their own email.  By the time your teen is in high school, he/she should have their own email with their name (and not some weird or silly name) that is professional.  They should conduct their own business using this email – not yours – for jobs, school, activities, college admissions.  Sure, you can have access and check it and make sure that there isn’t anything you shouldn’t know about going on.  But let them begin to communicate for themselves.

What it boils down to is this:  show your teen that you trust them.  Give them the tools they need to be productive and active adults.  And trust that you’ve done a great job along the way.  Well prepared teens become well functioning adults.

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lk herndon is a mother, writer, teacher whose debut children’s book, “Petunia”, has just been released on Amazon.

Shaped by her experiences growing up Southern, lk herndon tells sweet and simple stories. She earned her BA in Political Science, her MFA in Creative Non-Fiction and has spent more than a decade teaching high school subjects such as: AP Language and American Literature, Honors World Literature, World History, and American History.

While her days are spent in the classroom, the balance of time is spent as Mama to her Monogram Mafia (alongside her very favorite partner-in-chaos, former high school sweetheart and now husband of nearly seven years, BJ). Sneaking in time to write between the snuggles and squeals, lk herndon graces the world with a sneak peek into real life adventures sprinkled with overgrown imaginations and uncommon sense.

Follow her blog lkherndon.com


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