When you’re the parent of an infant or toddler, it can be hard to imagine their teenage years. You may look forward to your little one’s adolescence with excitement and wonder. Or you may think of it — if you allow yourself to think of it at all — with dread.
The reality, though, is that the job of raising a responsible teenager doesn’t start when your kid turns 13. It’s a process that’s years in the making. So whether your child is still a baby or they’re already into their tween and teen years, it’s never too early to begin inculcating responsibility in your little one. This article describes the three most important steps you can take today to help you raise the responsible teenagers of tomorrow.
1. Teach Accountability
Whether your child is a toddler or they’re already well into the double-digits, teaching your child accountability is a must. For young children, this could involve assigning simple household tasks, such as putting away their toys or helping you fold the laundry.
For older children, such as tweens, this might include involving the child in the care of a younger sibling. They might assist with bathtime or reading a bedtime story, for instance. And, if you have a teenager who is already driving, you might engage them in chauffeuring little brother or sister to school or sports.
The key here is helping your child learn to see themselves as a contributing member of a household, a school, or a community. Once the child learns to see themselves as accountable to others, it’s easier for them to develop a sense of personal responsibility.
2. Teach Responsible Tech Use
Most kids today are practically born with digital devices in their hands. But just because your child has grown up with technology doesn’t mean they know how to use it properly.
This is why teaching your child responsible technology use is critical to raising a responsible teenager. For instance, children and teens need significant, and ongoing, guidance on safe internet use, particularly when it comes to social media and the dangers that can lurk there.
Responsible technology use should also include advice on managing tech consumption. A particularly critical issue is the need to limit or entirely ban technology use for your teens in the hours before sleep. The sooner your child develops the habit of ditching digital devices at night, the better able you will be to maintain healthy sleep hygiene in your teen.
3. Financial Management
Another critical component of raising a responsible teenager lies in teaching them to manage money effectively. If your child is still young, you can do this by offering an allowance, particularly in exchange for completing some simple household chores.
Older children can benefit from a savings account, which can help them learn about things like interest. A savings account can also help older children learn to differentiate between a want and a need when it comes to responsible spending.
For teenagers who are already driving, managing car insurance can not only help cultivate safe driving habits but can also teach them critical financial management skills. This can be especially helpful if, with your oversight, your child pays some or all of their insurance premiums. Doing this can provide invaluable lessons in the relationship between financial well-being and personal responsibility.
Raising a responsible teenager isn’t easy. It’s an endeavor that is years in the making. However, with commitment, diligence, and a whole lot of love, it can be done — one day and one step at a time. The key lies in helping your child develop a sense of accountability to others, learning to manage technology, and developing strong money management skills.