Raising responsible and reliable teens

Dr Asha Pemberton. -
Dr Asha Pemberton. -

Dr Asha Pemberton


Through the upcoming weeks of relaxation and rest, there are many opportunities for parents to support the development of skills and attitudes in young people which will serve them well in their future. Being dependable is one of those skills. The challenges of life often lead parents to micro-manage or overly supervision their teen children. This results in their inability to be responsible or remain consistent to their word. If parents “rescue” or fill in the gaps left by their teens, they simply never learn to complete tasks or be reliable. For functional adult life, it is important to teach your teen about dependability and its significance.

To begin, the true meaning of dependability and the boundaries of the concept should be explained. Being dependable does not mean saying “yes” to everything or yielding to peer pressure. Instead being dependable means that one is trustworthy and remains true to their word. Adolescents need to know what the world is going to expect from them later and how to manage it. That will include being able to be as present, available, active, and engaged as you need to be. As they navigate higher education and employment, they will be required to work within a team and play their role. Lack of these skills is a common reason that young people have difficulty making these transitions.

It is also critical to differentiate between taking time to rest and out-right procrastination or avoidance. Adolescence is a time of challenging and rebellion. In addition, young people have an increased need for sleep, and particularly when out of schedule can seemingly sleep all day! While parents should recognise these normal aspects of development, they must be taught to complete what they begin. They also need to be aware that people who lack dependability or fail to keep their commitments are perceived as untrustworthy, frustrating, disappointing, and maybe even deceitful. This relates to their behaviour with friends as well; and so parents should supervise and ensure that their teen children treat their friends well and demonstrate the qualities of being a good friend.

Through the ongoing vacation, give teens responsibilities around the house and hold them accountable to not only starting, but completing. Be mindful as parents of how often you rush to fix or finish tasks that your teens have been given, simply to have them done. Be observant of how they treat siblings and friends. Do they make plans and suddenly cancel? Do they abruptly cut off or end interactions without explanation? These are manifestations of an unreliable person which should be addressed. Overall, as parents, demonstrate the behaviour or responsibility and dependability. When young people observe adults who are constantly avoiding work, cutting corners or making excuses for lacklustre effort, they quickly learn these maladaptive behaviours and endure the later consequences.


"Raising responsible and reliable teens"

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