5 Tips to Raise an Independent Teen to Become a Responsible Adult

Most parents dream of a responsible, independent teenager—one that lends a hand with household chores without being asked, always calls to check in and hangs out with the “right” crowd of friends. But, in reality, all teens are going to drop the ball on responsibility (occasionally, at least).

And no matter how mature your teen seems to be, she’s going to need ongoing guidance to become an independent, responsible adult. Here are five strategies for raising an independent teen who will be prepared to deal with the realities of adulthood:

Let Your Teen Show You How Much Freedom He Can Handle

Make sure your teen has the skills she needs to become an independent adult.
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Make it clear that you’ll grant more freedom when he’s able to show you that he makes good decisions. If he shows up on time for curfew, if he makes good choices with friends, and he takes care of his responsibilities, you’ll know he can handle a little more freedom.

Brainstorm solutions for potential problematic situations with your teen. Whether he’s going out with friends or you’re leaving him home alone for the night, talk about situations he might encounter. Make it clear to him that it’s OK to ask for help or to stand up for himself when something doesn’t seem right.

Making a mistake isn’t the end of the world. But, if your teen tries to cover up his mistake by lying or making an unhealthy choice, you may need to revoke some of his privileges. 

Write a Schedule

In the digital age, a written schedule seems unnecessary. However, the ability to create a schedule written on paper and actually stick to it is still a task that breeds responsibility. These days, teens have a lot going on, and they need to master making a schedule so they can ensure that everything gets done.

Sit down together with a piece of paper, list the hours of the day on one side and pencil in activities on the other side. Don’t forget to add in downtime. Your teen doesn’t need to do this every day, but an occasional schedule will teach time management skills.

Encourage Your Teen to Help Out

Doing chores should be a standard part of behaving responsible. But going above and beyond regular household chores is a great way for your teen to become more independent.

Teach your teen to give back to the community in some way. Volunteering at an animal shelter, participating in community clean-up efforts, or fundraising for a good cause can help your teen feel more responsible—which will encourage him to behave more responsibly.

Teach Life Skills

It can be easy to assume that your teen is on the path to becoming independent because he excels on the soccer field or because he gets his homework done on time. But just because your teen is doing well in some areas of his life doesn’t mean he’s ready to take on the responsibilities of the real world.

Make sure you’re investing time into teaching your teen life skills. Practical skills, like how to do the laundry and how to cook meals, are important. But it’s also essential to make sure your teen knows how to manage his money and understands how to communicate with other people effectively.

While your teen may pick up on some of these skills simply by watching you, she won’t learn everything through observation. Proactively teach your teen how to manage a household and how to solve real-life problems.

Be Clear About Consequences

There will be times when your teen makes mistakes (or even purposely breaks your rules). Make sure that her poor choices lead to negative consequences. Logical consequences, like the loss of privileges, can be effective teachers.

Resist the urge to make excuses or rescue your teen from her mistakes. Sometimes, natural consequences can serve as the best reminders to make a better choice next time.

It’s hard to watch your child grow up and realize that she won’t be your little baby forever. However, you’re doing your teen a disservice if you don’t instill a sense of responsibility. In the long run, your teen will thank you for turning her into a responsible, independent adult.