5 tips for teaching our teenagers responsibility.

It’s not my teenagers fault that the wet towels are still on the floor. It’s not their fault that they haven’t got any money. It’s not their fault that they didn’t do their homework and it’s certainly not their fault that they missed the bus.

We’ve heard it all before right? The blame game? Where our children blame something else or someone for their mistakes?

The problem is when they don’t begin to see that this is not helping them. When they don’t learn from this. I think all teenagers are very egocentric and find it tricky to see the point of view of others around them. They are clouded in hormones!

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How do we stop our teenagers blaming everything for their mistakes?

How can we parent our teenagers to see that by blaming everything around them for their own failures it is not helpful? How can we help them to take responsibility for their own faults without damaging their self-esteem? It’s a tough one but here are my top 5 tips that I hope will prove helpful to you:

1. Demonstrate personal responsibility 

How can we ask our children to take more responsibility when we don’t do this ourselves? Be honest and admit if you have done something wrong. I hate this culture we seem to have at the moment of blaming others.  If you drop something that smashes in the supermarket, tell someone and apologise. If you shout at your teenagers but afterwards realise that you overreacted, tell them you are sorry and that you were wrong. By being great role models, we are helping our children grow into responsible adults.

2. Expectations 

If you would like your children to act in a certain way, expect that of them. If you do everything for your child or teenager, how can you expect them to be independent? I see this all the time in my job as a teacher. Children of 7 carrying nothing into school whilst their poor mum is carrying 4 school bags! Why can’t a child of 7 carry their own school bag? They are not babies! Expect your child to put their toys away and gradually, they will do this. I know it is sometimes quicker to do things for your children but they have to learn for themselves. If you want your teenager to engage with their grandparents, then expect them to and tell them when they are not. They can’t learn otherwise. As they grow into teenagers, those habits are there so hopefully we don’t have to nag too much!

3. Chores

Tweens and teenagers are quite capable of doing chores around the house but you can’t expect them to be helpful unless you start to give them chores when they are younger. In the Old House, the children have two chores each day in the school holidays and I expect that they are done but I don’t want arguments. Therefore, they will often choose which chores to do from a list and in that way, I am offering them choice in what they do. Most of the time they do their chores really well and I don’t have to nag! In fact, both children will now do other chores without being asked; they can see what needs doing. It was a real chore for me to start with when they started to do chores at about aged 7, but now it is paying off. We want them to become responsible adults but we have to show them what this means. I’m a little softer on them in the term time but they still have daily chores, like feeding the animals. They also have to remember to take everything to school for themselves and have done this since the age of 10. If they forgot their trainers for Sports, for example, I did not go up to their school with them. They would get into trouble at school but they never forgot their trainers again!

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It’s your teenagers life so let them lead it!

4. Ownership

Make your teenager aware that they are in ownership of their life. It is their dreams and so they are the only one to make those dreams become a reality. Encourage your teenager to make plans and follow through with them where possible. We gave both children an allowance for clothes when they turned 14. This money goes straight into their bank account and they were told what they were expected to buy with it. We would buy their school clothes, underwear, a warm coat and a pair of shoes for summer and winter. They could then spend the rest as they wanted, on what they wanted. To start with, my daughter spent all her money on makeup but she soon learnt that not having many clothes was not fun! Our son trades and buys clothes on Depop so seems to always have money! Both have dabbled in  getting jobs to supplement this money too which has been brilliant. By giving them the ownership of their own money makes them think (sometimes) about the choices they need to make. At Christmas, they know they have to buy presents for family members and they save accordingly. There have been many mistakes made but I feel that they have really learnt by them and are now a little more responsible with money (although if they go to university, I’ll let you know how that goes!).

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Playing team sports develops responsibility

5. Consequences

I don’t shield my children. If they get a bad grade at school, then they know that this was because they did not put the work in. There are consequences for not handing in their maths homework! I know of parents who will blame the teacher for their child’s poor grades when we all know that their children are out drinking or at parties. This does not help their child in the long run! In the workplace, there will be no one to blame if things don’t go their way. I’m hoping that both my children study hard for their exams. My daughter studied for her GCSE’s and she did well. We try to show them that hard work will bring rewards by working hard ourselves.  Being part of a sports team has also really helped my children as they have to work as part of a team. By not turning up to games they create consequences for the whole team and that is a powerful message for teenagers who care what others think.

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Parenting is like standing on the edge of a tall building!

My children are at the age where I have to keep my fingers crossed that we have done a good job as parents. At 17 and 15, they are older teenagers and we hope that by making their mistakes when they were younger, they are becoming responsible young people. Being a parent of teenagers is like walking along a ledge of a skyscraper at times; you just don’t know if you will be able to stay on the ledge as one small gust of wind may push you over the edge. You just have to pray for sunny weather and make sure you are wearing trainers!

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43 thoughts on “5 tips for teaching our teenagers responsibility.

  • As ever you write with wisdom and balance. My girls are all grown and the youngest graduated this summer so all are now working. I so remember how tough the teens were but you are entirely right that you can prepare for it by not mollycoddling your younger children. And I fail to understand how any parent can expect a child of any age to understand what is expected if they don’t set a consistent example. And have the humility to apologise if we have got something wrong – after all giving birth does not suddenly recreate us as omnipotent and unassailable and all knowing and never wrong! Giving them responsibility, ensuring their actions (or lack there of) have consequences and expecting them to suck those consequences up, all lead to a much greater chance that as they fly the nest they will manage to stay airborne and in time will be able to live the independent lives that they deserve rather than being ill-equipped for the workplace or indeed loving relationships. Thank you … I so enjoy your thoughts.

    • And I so enjoy your comment Osyth. I think parenting teenagers can be hard at times but in the end, they are our offspring so they become the people we mould them into? I think some parents expect their kids to become these well balanced teenagers when they actually are not helping them by their own actions? Does that make sense? Anyway, only my perception! Thanks lovely! Enjoy your Sunday. X

      • It makes total sense. Your children are fortunate to have you as parents. I fear so many do not have a chance. When we choose to have children we take responsibility for helping them be the best they can be. We are their guides, we will mold them and we are morally bound, in my view, to give them the best chance of leading well-balanced adult lives. None of us are perfect but I do think we should be prepared to work at it. Have a beautiful day and keep doing what you do X

  • This is great advice, Sophie, and I totally agree. It is important to model the behaviour you wish to see in your children. Growth is a slow process and we need to provide many opportunities for them to observe, reflect and practice. We cannot expect perfection to occur over night. Or at all for that matter. As you say, we all make mistakes and it’s important to own up to them, take responsibility and apologise. When we recognise that mistakes are inevitable, we can be more accepting when we see them occurring in others. Encouragement rather than negativity (especially abuse) is what’s required. Both my children are now adults, and one is a parent of young children. It is wonderful to see the effects of my efforts reflected in two wonderful adults. I am biased, but why wouldn’t I be, and most who know them would agree. 🙂

  • I am very happy you commented on my blog because now I have found yours! That was such an interesting read. Our kids are the exacts same age and this was perfect for me! I am doing most things right according to your list, but will keep reading and checking in since your words of wisdom are perfect for me right now. Thank you!

  • Oh so true. Lead by example and use positive language to gently guide. Learning by their own moments of failure is one of the most powerful lessons. I let them choose the chores they’d like to do, but the best feeling is when they volunteer to do extra. Amazing how quickly they learn that there is time for fun stuff to happen if they don’t leave all the jobs to me. #MMBC

  • Great post. My boys are 16 and 14 and I have done most of these, but the one thing I failed on (and am now regretting) is not giving them chores from an early age. They just leave a mess wherever they go and don’t ever think about clearin up. I do wish I’d got them into good habit early on.

    • Well maybe but teenagers are naturally messy dont you think? My 15 year old boy leaves wet towel, cups, mugs, banana skins…..drives me nuts! He does do his chores though so thats something! Thanks for the comments and good luck with your boys. x

  • SO wise! What a great list. It really does help to start your kids young – that sets a solid foundation! I find my little 4yo never takes responsibility for her drops/spills/etc, but hopefullly that changes when she gets a bit older!!

  • My parents were very good at teaching me how top be responsible. From quite am early age I could stand on my own two feet, looking after my sister as I went. When I first moved in with my husband he couldn’t work a washing machine and didn’t open his own mail. I could have cried! #TwinklyTuesday

    • Yes, important point. Our boys are just as capable doing chores as our girls and it’s important that they learn too so that they can help as men. Thanks for stopping by. X

  • Good advice.
    My boy is now 20. Looking back I think I did pretty well with the ownership and responsibility lessons. When he was 13 I made it perfectly clear that his room was his personal private space and his responsibility. He was in control of the state and cleanliness of it and I wouldn’t go in there without an invite. I always knocked and always left things for him outside the door if he was out and the door was closed.

    .. And by the time he went to uni, where he is now, he knew how to both cook and budget.
    He’s a very happy and well rounded young man and I’m very proud of him and his dad and I x

    • He sounds like a great young man. I hope my 2 are like him! My daughter is getting there in terms of cooking but she is very messy! My son is the opposite so perhaps they could learn from each other! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog. X

  • yep, it’s parental responsibility and leading by example for sure. I also made a decision to decide which battles to fight with my kids and decided that as long as their rooms were hygienically clean, then the mess was none of my business and concentrated on the important stuff like personal hygiene and not taking food to their bedrooms #tweenteensbeyond

  • I love the idea of giving them a list of chores to choose from! I have been struggling for years with my kids and chores. They do it because I won’t let them not do it but it’s always a fight, which makes me angry, which leads me to yelling in order to get it done, then I hate myself for yelling. I’m going to try your list idea and see how that works out:) #TweensTeensBeyond

  • There’s a lot of age difference between my daughters, so the elder grew up doing chores but I decided not to bother with the younger. I think they’ve both grown up to be responsible, so maybe it doesn’t make that much difference in the long run. On the other hand, I might try some of these tips on my husband …

    • You are welcome Sharon. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ve just come home from work, picked up food, cleaned the floor as the dog was sick, unloaded the dishwasher, put a load of washing in, fed the cats and made a fire. My kids are nowhere to be seen! It’s just the way some days go. Thanks for the lovely comment. X

  • Totally agree with you Sophie and I do love to read a post that makes me feel normal! I’m for all of the points, the chores, the responsibility, ownership – all very important. There are always differing schools of thought on these things which can make us question ourselves sometimes as to how harsh our parenting is. Although I’d rather be the enabler that encourages independence. Great post. Happy New Year Sophie #tweensteensbeyond

  • Oh Sophie it is always interesting to reflect on what we have done right and wrong as parents of teens. I know that my grumblings about my teens lack of responsibility in some areas can be traced back to me. I am guilty of stepping in and taking control rather than letting them sort it out for themselves and each year I vow to get tougher. Unfortunately for my youngest she is getting the brunt of it as I can see the mistakes I made with my eldest. On the other hand they are both doing well and I know if I wasn’t around they would be fine. The biggest learning curve for my eldest has been university. Any problems are his and his alone and so far he is doing a good job of sorting them out. Oh this is a cup of coffee and a long chat kind of post! Thanks for linking my dear. #TweensTeensBeyond

    • Oh Jo…would love a cuppa and a chat at some point as I could come to the Big Smoke! was there last weekend actually….
      yes, university…Im not looking forward to that stage yet my daughter wants a year out so it has been delayed for another year! x

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