How to Teach a Teenager Responsibility

Jennifer Johnson

As parents, we spent a lot of time and energy (and worry!) doing our best to keep our kids safe. That’s one of our main responsibilities, right? But do you also try to help your child be empowered? Empowering kids to learn, do, and become anything is one of our main goals here at Troomi, and we’d be willing to bet it’s an important goal in your family too. Yes, we want to keep our kids safe, but we also want them to grow and develop into functioning, capable, happy adults. 

Part of being empowered is learning to take responsibility for different aspects of life. And as parents, part of empowering our kids is learning how to teach a teenager responsibility. As our kids become more responsible and capable, the benefits are endless! Not only will our kids be more prepared for life ahead, but they will also feel more confident as they have more responsibility. And of course, as our teens take more responsibility on their shoulders, that takes a little off our own shoulders, and who’s going to complain about that?

So what are the responsibilities of a teenager? How can we help our kids become more independent—while also looking out for their well-being? We’re sharing some ideas below.

Ideas for Teaching Your Teen Responsibility

  • Set expectations. There are few things more frustrating than disappointing someone because you didn’t know what they expected of you, and it’s the same with our kids. A fundamental step in how to teach a teenager responsibility is to communicate openly with them and set clear expectations together. Let them know what you’re hoping they can be responsible for, and discuss consequences for expectations that aren’t met.
  • Let them really contribute. By the time our kids are teens, they should be ready to take on some legitimate responsibilities of a teenager. Allow them to contribute at home through chores, cooking, caring for younger siblings, or encourage them to volunteer in the community. Help them take on tasks that will let them know others really rely on them. If they feel needed, they’ll usually step up to the plate.
  • Give them independence. Of course, we still want to be involved in our kids’ lives even as they take on more and more responsibility for themselves, but look for ways to let them be independent. Allow them to make their own choices, like choosing classes at school or extracurricular activities, contributing to family decisions, and setting their own schedule.
  • Teach them to manage money. Teenagers can benefit from managing their own money, either from a small allowance or a job. Instead of just giving them a few dollars every time they ask for it, consider giving them a set allowance each month and teaching them how to budget. This includes planning what money to save and how to spend the rest.
  • Let them experience consequences. A crucial—and sometimes difficult—part of learning how to teach a teenager responsibility is letting them experience consequences. That means if they don’t finish an assignment for school, they take the incomplete or lower grade. If they don’t take care of their money, they will have to go without spending money until they earn more. As tempting as it can be to “fix things” as a parent, part of building capability in our children is letting them experience consequences.
  • Set an example. If you’ve ever heard your toddler repeat a bad word you’ve said, you know that kids often follow the example of their parents. Watching what you do is one of the ways they learn. So we should do our best to model responsible behavior ourselves by not blaming others, admitting when we make mistakes and apologizing, and being organized and reliable.

Learning to Take Responsibility Through Tech

One awesome (and useful) way for our kids to develop responsibility is by learning to use technology safely. For teens, that might mean having their own cell phone or laptop to use for schoolwork. At Troomi, teaching responsibility is our jam, which is why our phones allow you to add functionality to your child’s phone quickly and easily through the Parent Portal. This way, your child can graduate from simpler functionality starting at just calling and texting to safe email and web browsing and finally to KidSmart™ apps that are vetted to be safe and educational. As our kids develop healthy tech habits now, they’ll use these habits throughout their whole lives.

Showing Support as a Parent

A simple thing we as parents can do to help our kids develop responsibility is to just be supportive. As we express trust in our kids and show appreciation when they show maturity, our encouragement will go a long way in helping them continue to grow. We can also allow them to make mistakes and learn from them, and let them know they can always come to us. Our support will make a difference.