What are the life skills you are teaching your teenager? Does your teenager know how to: Make a meal? Wake themselves up on time? Do laundry? Pump gas? Help others? Ask for help? Pack their own bag? Grocery shop? Take public transportation? Budget spending? Think about the things you do every day and whether your teenager is able to do these things on his/her own. When you should you teach your child these skills? Now is a good time!
Recently, a client’s mother said to me’ “If I don’t step in, he won’t step up.” We have all been there; frustrated by our teen’s lack of initiative and responsibility. The thing is, teens will step up . . . if parents allow them. There are a few key steps to remember:
- Give instruction – but don’t lecture. Give your teen the information and tools that he needs and then let him try it out. Allow him to practice . . . and make mistakes.
- Focus on the outcome, not the process. Maybe that first meal your teen cooks will need a lot of ketchup . . . a lot . . .but celebrate the fact your teen cooked a meal!
- Help your teen find her own motivation. You want your teen to learn how to pack her own suitcase so you can save time getting ready for family trips, and so you don’t hear complaints about why her favorite ripped jeans were not packed. She wants to pack her own bag so she can bring those ripped jeans; sometimes you have to let go of what you want.
- It’s OK to let your teen fail. Remember the importance of resilience; not just the ability to move on despite a setback, but the ability to improve becauseof a setback. Give your kids a chance to learn what works and what doesn’t. The consequences of being late to school will make your teen rethink his system of relying on his alarm.
- Make the transition gradual. One thing at a time . . . it is not a good idea to tell your teen that tomorrow she has to get up on her own, make her breakfast, pack her lunch, stop for groceries on the way home from school, and cook dinner. Come up with a timeline with action steps and consequences and get your teen involved in coming up with the plan.
Think about the list of skills in the beginning of this article. Add your own. What are the skills you want your teenager to have as an adult? Remember the best time to start teaching these skills is NOW!
Colleen Gecawich is a certified Academic Life Coach at Savannah Educational Consultants.
Academic Life Coaching (ALC) is designed specifically for students ages 13-18 and covers concepts including academic skills, stress management, organization, leadership, motivation and communication. Learn more at www.savannaheducationalconsultants.com or call 912-238-9552.