One of the biggest topic that arises when you bring together moms of teenagers is, “How to Make Your Teenager Responsible?” You know it’s possible, right? You have seen super helpful teens …or at least heard of the mythical creature. Are all teenagers capable of taking responsibility? Yes, ALL teenagers are more than able to accept the challenge of modeling responsibility and helpfulness. Let’s dive into some of the secrets on HOW to make your teenager responsible and train them to be helpful.
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How Do I Motivate a Lazy Teenager?
“My teen is just lazy.” “I can’t get my teen to do anything.” “I’ve tried, but my teen just won’t help.”
The good news is that ALL teenagers are capable of being responsible and accountable. There really is no such thing as a lazy teen, just an untrained one.
The hard news is figuring out what is not working. Typically when a teenager is “lazy” there are one of several things going on in the home. So before we dive into how to make your teenager responsible, let’s discuss a few of those “lazy teenager” reasons. Then THIS TIME you can have a solid foundation to make your “raise responsible teen” plan a success!!
Each Teen is Motivated Differently
If you are using the same approach with each teen, then you may be experiencing success with some of your children and failing miserably with others.
When training your “lazy” child to be responsible look carefully at how that teenager is motivated. What do they naturally enjoy doing? In what ways does your teenager already help around the house without complaining? What did they love doing when they were younger?
Yes, each child should know how to wash dishes, do laundry, watch little kids, etc… But to help instill confidence and joy in working, motivate your teen through giving them extra work in their naturally gifted areas.
Stop Fixing or Doing Your Teen’s Chores
So you SAY that you want your teen to help, but what happens when they don’t? Do you jump in and rescue them? After whining and nagging for hours, do you throw your hands up and just do it yourself. Or worse, after your teenager does the chore, do you follow behind them fixing the job? Do you end up doing the chore over because the job is so bad?
If you have been doing everything for your teenager or coming behind them “fixing” things, then it will take a bit of time (weeks or months) to retrain a different behavior from them (and you;)
Recognize Your Teenager’s Responsibility Cues
As we mentioned, each teenager is different. Some teens are natural leaders. They pick up and see what needs to be done. If trained, these natural leaders will just step up and do what is necessary as situations arise.
Other teenagers are more thoughtful and hesitant by nature. This personality is going to require more structure and clear guidelines to know what it is you expect from them. It’s not that these teenagers are lazy and don’t want to help. They just don’t want to do the wrong thing.
When working and training your tweens and teenagers, look for what structure and cues they require to instill responsibility habits.
As a homeschool mom, each year, I try to see if my student has done a year’s worth of growth. I focus on the growth I’ve seen and less on if that child matches up with every other child their same age. So as you raise your teens and tweens, focus more on seeing consistent growth and less on whether each child is maturing in the same way.
Parents Need to be Modeling Responsibility
And finally a big roadblock that can occurs in transforming a seemingly lazy teen into a motivated teenager is consistent parental modeling!
You can’t just tell your teen they need to help out around the house, you need to show them. Find the balance between expecting your teenager to help and modeling the behavior for them.
Model responsibility by keeping a consistent schedule and following through with phone calls and emails. Develop daily household cleaning routines, create a basic plan for your money and show up to work and school on time.
How to Make Your Teenager Responsible
OK, so first we made sure we have the basic foundations in place to effectively teach responsibility:
- Learn to motivate each teen
- Stop doing everything for your teen
- Build in responsibility cues
- Model responsibility as a parent
Now let’s look at mom tested tips to how to make your teenager responsible.
Responsible Teenagers Still Require Training
Sometimes we can look at our 13 or 14 year old and think that they should just know how to care for the house or make a meal. After all they have been on planet earth for quite awhile…or does it just feel that way? Anyhoo, don’t miss this step of training your teenagers.
I remember a time our boys cleaned the bathroom, and I couldn’t tell they had cleaned it AT ALL. As I started to get upset, I thought I would try a different approach. I decided to show them again how to clean the bathroom. Maybe I hadn’t done it in awhile. Perhaps, I had just stopped helping them as they got older but never really clarified what I expected them to do when I said “Clean the bathroom.”
So next time they cleaned the bathroom, I worked along side them. I showed them exactly what I wanted. After that time, I just said I would check them after it was done and show them what they had missed. It worked.
Now, whether they decided that they didn’t want mom working with them or whether they really needed to be shown more carefully, I’m not sure. The end result was met!!
So before you get upset, make sure that you have actually trained your kids to do the job you are asking them to do. Carefully detail what you expect to be done. After all “clean the kitchen” to you is probably completely different than “clean the kitchen” at my house:)
Teenagers Need to Be Given Responsibility to Learn Responsibility
To raise a responsible teenager, we need to give our teen responsibilities!
One pitfall that I have noticed is that as a kid enters their tweens years and complains about work, parents begin to assign less and less household chores. THIS DOES NOT WORK.
It sort of makes sense that if a person has less to do then they should have plenty of time to get their one or two assignments done. For instance, many parents back off and tell their teenager they just want them to show up at school and keep their room clean. Easy, right?
But typically what happens, when a teenager is not given enough to do, is that the teenager has too much time, doesn’t schedule their time and just wastes it doing mindless, fun stuff. Then when the teenager is asked to help, they sort of panic realizing they haven’t gotten anything done, so they can’t help you.
Assign enough household responsibilities to balance their school work, activities and job duties. But make sure they feel natural pressure to work hard and use their time wisely. Help them see that they are capable of doing more than they thought!
Training Responsible Teenagers is Work
Training your teenager is going to require work on your part. As parents we need to keep them by our side working. We need to train them, especially during the younger years, and create basic structures in place on work expectations.
Ugh! This is a lot of work! You bet it is a lot of work to train responsible teenagers. It is easier to do it yourself!! Or is it?
One major secret is that instilling responsibility in your kid is a TON of work. But when it comes to your kids you are going to work one way or another.
You either do work by training them, watch them slaughter what seemed like a simple job, make them redo said job, follow up with them and create routines to reinforce the job.
OR you do all the work yourself! You can then whine and nag constantly at your kids, begging them to help, and finally do it yourself. Then spend the rest of your years cleaning up their physical and later emotional, financial and mental messes.
Ugh! No thanks!! SO give your teen responsibilities now and expect them to work!
Use Reinforcements To Raise a Responsible Teenager
When it comes to training a responsible teenager, just remember that this is not a one time deal. As I alluded to earlier, as parents we have to train our teenager, but then we need to set systems into place.
Most teenagers (and people) need to create routines and habits. If we always clean up the dishes right after dinner, then most teenagers are going to help because that is what is normal and expected. Consistency will make your parenting job easier!
But if sometimes the dishes are left for the next morning or they are only half cleaned up, then we have inconsistency. Therefore when you go to tell them to clean the dishes or help you as you clean the dishes there is going to be whining. They just want to leave them. After all you left them last night.
Create some basic routines and household expectations in order to be consistent. Think through all the things that need to be done in the household every day, chores that need to be done several times a week and the once a week chores.
Split the household duties up and assign them to a person. You may decide to give the same job to the same kid everyday or to split the chores between the kids.
Next, create basic household rules. One rule in our household when all our kids were home was that no dishes were to be left in the bedrooms and shoes had to be taken off when you came in the house. Our family household rules were known by all and consistently reinforced, thus making our household run smoother with less nagging required from me!
Praise Your Teenager When They Work to Encourage Responsibility
Reward your student for hard work with praise.
Take note of all the effort they made or how they used their time well. Make sure they know how glad you were for the help. Or tell them how they rescued the day with taking care of a job for your family.
Help them to recognize and feel proud of how much better your family functioned that day because of all their help!
Instill Accountability in Teenagers Through Consistent Consequences
Now that we have laid a solid foundation for raising responsible teens, trained our teens, given our teens areas of responsibility, split up the household duties and praised them, it’s time to back it all up with consequences!
Teach responsibility for their actions by having your teenage face a consequence if they don’t complete their chores. You can use natural consequences. If they fail to keep up with their laundry, then they won’t have anything nice to wear to school or church that day.
Or you can assign consequences. When they are late to get out the door for school, they need to go to bed a half an house earlier the next night.
You can also utilize and point out other’s consequences for your kids. Don’t rescue them if a teacher, coach or boss gives them a consequence.
Parents Need to Be on The Same Parenting Page
Make sure in your home the message is CLEAR that taking responsibility and being helpful is very important. In order to do this parents in the household need to be a TEAM!
This means that all the parental adults in your home need to be reinforcing the same message. If one parent says that working hard is important but the other parent emphasizes that they don’t want the kids to ever struggle, then we have conflicting messages in our home!!! YIKES! This isn’t good, and it will be doubly hard to get kids to listen and obey instructions.
I used to really struggle with this idea of giving in to get on the same page with my husband. Shouldn’t you stick to your beliefs? Then I read an article discussing how destructive it can be for the kids when parents aren’t on the same page!
It is better that you compromise on your strong stance about junk food or that you buck up and allow your husband to assign your “baby” some tough, hard jobs. Your kid will survive.
What kids won’t survive is seeing that they can always get in the middle of you two, or that the parents in the household are always mad or disappointed in each other. Tension and divisiveness in the home leadership is more harmful for the troops than having to stress a bit and work hard!
Responsible Behaviors and Chores Teenagers are Capable of Doing
Now, that we are raising responsible teenagers, what can we expect them to be capable of doing? What sorts of chores should we train them to do?
Chore Ideas for Teenagers and Tweens
Does your teenager help out at your home and when they are outside the home? What is one job you would love to train your teenager to do?