Discover the 8 things you should stop doing for your teenager in order to raise competent adults 👩💼 Ease your transition into teenhood with this helpful list
Raising a teenager can be challenging. As they grow into young adults, it’s important to give them more freedom and responsibility. However, it can be difficult to know when to let go and what things you should stop doing for your teen. Here are 8 things you should consider stopping as your child reaches adolescence:
Stop Making Their Breakfast and Packing Their Lunch
Once your teen reaches high school, it’s time to let them take over making their own breakfast and packing their own lunch for school. Around 14 or 15 years old is an appropriate age for a teenager to handle these daily tasks independently.
Making breakfast is an essential life skill they will need when they move out on their own. Packing their lunch also teaches planning, time management and responsibility.
Of course, you can still offer to help or make them breakfast occasionally as a treat. But in general, teens should learn to handle these routine meals themselves. Let them make their own choices about what they want to eat each day.
Stop Being Their Morning Alarm Clock
If you are still going into your teen’s room to wake them up each morning, it’s time to stop. Once your child reaches middle school or junior high, they are old enough to get themselves up with an alarm clock.
Waking up on time is an important life skill for teens to master before heading to college or entering the workforce. Let them practice getting up to the sound of an alarm, even if they are a bit groggy at first. Natural consequences like missing the bus or scrambling to get ready will reinforce the importance of rising on time.
Some parents continue waking their teens because they look so peaceful while sleeping. But it’s time to let an alarm clock do the job so they transition to waking up independently.
Stop Cleaning Their Room
Around ages 12-15, most teenagers are capable of keeping their bedroom clean and organized on their own. Part of growing into an autonomous, competent adult is taking responsibility for their personal environment.
Let them know you expect their room to be tidy, and check in occasionally. But step back and allow them to clean and maintain their private space themselves. Handle their laundry the same way – provide access to washer/dryer but expect them to do their own as needed.
Cleaning their room teaches important life skills like organization, tidiness, and self-reliance. Prepare teens now so cleaning and home maintenance comes naturally later.
Stop Making Their Bed
In tandem with cleaning their room, teens should become responsible for making their own bed in the morning.
Take the time to teach them proper bed-making technique before withdrawing your assistance. Once they have the process down, it’s reasonable to expect teens to smooth out their bedcovers and arrange their pillows neatly each morning.
Making their bed is a basic habit that paves the way for adult responsibility. It also starts each day with a sense of order and accomplishment.
Stop Being Their Chauffeur and Delivery Service
When teens forget something at home like sports equipment or homework, resist the urge to deliver it to school or their activity. Similarly, refrain from rushing to drive them places they can get to themselves like a friend’s house or sports practice.
Starting in middle school, teens should learn to plan ahead and bring what they need with them. Forgotten items or relying on mom/dad for rides enables irresponsible behavior. Let natural consequences do the teaching when they forget things or need to figure out their own transportation.
Part of growing into an independent adult is organizing belongings, budgeting time, and arranging transportation. These lapses provide great learning moments.
Stop Micromanaging Their Assignments
As teens progress through middle school and high school coursework gets more rigorous, avoid micromanaging their assignments. Support them when asked, but enable them to take ownership of their academic work.
Let them learn how to track deadlines, follow instructions, and independently complete quality work. Check completed assignments but resist the urge to “fix” their work or hover over their shoulder ensuring it’s done “right.”
Learning to manage workload and assignments is great preparation for higher education and career success. Give them space to work through challenges and take responsibility.
Stop Intervening With Teachers and Coaches
When issues inevitably come up with teachers or coaches, allow your teen to resolve them directly rather than intervening on their behalf.
If your teen has an issue with a teacher’s grading, assignment expectations, or their coaching decisions, encourage them to politely discuss it one-on-one. Help them prepare what to say, but let them handle the conversation. This builds vital self-advocacy and communication competencies.
Of course, offer advice and step in if problems escalate beyond their control. But teach teens to initiate discussions themselves to obtain understanding and work through differences. This applies to academics, sports, and social dynamics – help them initiate dialogue and take ownership.
Stop Treating Them Like a Child
Finally, it can be difficult to alter your parenting approach as children enter adolescence. But avoiding infantilizing your teen helps nurture their growing maturity and independence.
Resist terms like “baby” or “my little one” which prolong childish dependence. Include them in grown-up conversations and family decisions whenever possible. Ask their opinions and truly consider their input. Support expanding freedoms and responsibilities.
Treat teens with the respect afforded young adults. Ask rather than demand, explain rather than dictate. Be patient as they test boundaries and make mistakes. Maintain reasonable guidelines but allow increasing autonomy appropriate to their age and maturity.
Holding a Balance Between Raising Competent Adults and Giving Care
As we’ve discussed, there are many things parents should consider stopping as their children grow into teenagers and young adults. This allows teens to practice vital independent living skills. However, parents also need to avoid going too far the other direction by completely disengaging. While parenting a teen requires a delicate balance, here are some additional tips:
- Don’t fully stop making meals and providing food. While expecting teens to handle their own breakfasts and lunches is reasonable, most still need family meals provided at home. Continue making dinners that gather the family, even if your teen sometimes opts out. Also ensure healthy snacks are available at home for them to access.
- Don’t stop all household contributions. Allow teens to take full responsibility for their living spaces like bedroom and bathroom. But still expect them to chip in on family chores and cleaning common areas. Rotate daily and weekly chores so everyone contributes.
- Don’t stop all transportation support. As noted, teens should arrange their own rides when possible. But parents should still provide transportation for family events, critical appointments, etc. An absolute cutoff risks safety and connections.
- Don’t stop all academic support. Allow teens independence over assignments as recommended. But if they request help understanding concepts or developing skills, take time to assist. Some support is still needed at this stage.
- Don’t stop family bonding time. Teens need space from family at this age. But set aside dedicated family time through shared meals, activities, trips and discussions. Maintain relationships and communication.
- Don’t remove all rules and boundaries. Some structure is still needed during the teen years. Set fair guidelines about things like curfews, appropriate content, and substance use. Enforce rules consistently using reasonable consequences.
- Don’t stop monitoring entirely. While directly supervising homework or social time should lessen, maintain awareness of your teen’s activities, friendships and online interactions. Spot check in on who they are spending time with and how they are conducting themselves. Verbally reinforce positive choices.
- Don’t stop expressing affection. Even independent teens need to feel loved through words and actions. Give regular encouragement and praise. Share laughs, hugs and kind words. Show interest in their goals, struggles and accomplishments.
- Don’t stop modeling responsible behavior. Teens still look to their parents’ examples. Manage stress appropriately, communicate respectfully with your partner, demonstrate moderation with alcohol, exercise regularly, and practice self-care.
- Don’t stop sharing family meals. Gathering for dinner is an important time to connect amid busy schedules. Maintain this time to share highlights from each person’s day.
The goal is cultivating self-reliance while preserving family ties. Drastic disengagement can lead teens to feel neglected just when they need engaged guidance about approaching adulthood. Find the right give-and-take between independence and involvement.
The teenage years are an ideal window to shift to more adult treatment, granting independence while still providing guidance and supervision. Take advantage of this transition period to help teens practice adult roles and responsibilities, even if there are bumps in the road. The skills and traits you help them develop will serve them well as they embark on true young adulthood.