Work With Your Preteen to Build Responsibility Together

You want your preteen to grow into a responsible young adult, so help her along! Here are some ideas you can use to instill a sense of responsibility in your middle schooler:

➢    Talk about it. Teach your preteen that she’s responsible for her attitude and the decisions she makes. If things are going wrong, help her see how her choices might have contributed to the situation. Help her realize that she has more power than she thinks. She’ll be surprised to find out that even little things like her choice of words, tone or body language influence how things will turn out for her.

➢    Enforce it. Insist that your middle schooler take responsibility for her actions. That means allowing her to experience the consequences of those actions. In other words, don’t rescue her every time she messes up. For example, don’t take her forgotten homework to school over and over again.

➢    Advocate it. Let your middle schooler know that you value responsibility-related traits like self-control and persistence. When you see these qualities being put into action—either on TV or in real life—point them out and discuss them with your preteen. Don’t pass up chances to reinforce your family’s values.

➢    Model it. There is no better way to teach your middle schooler responsibility than to model it yourself. So show your child exactly what responsibility looks like. Let your preteen see you taking responsibility for your own mistakes. “I left the lawnmower out in the rain, and now it’s rusted. I should have known better and I should have been more responsible.” She will learn more by your simple admission than she’d learn in an hour of lecturing.

Source: Michael S. Josephson, Val J. Peter and Tom Dowd, Parenting to Build Character in Your Teen, ISBN: 1-889322-42-3