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Freedom & Responsibility: How can I help my teen learn to follow through with responsibilty?

At Sundance Canyon Academy, we work with a lot of students who struggle to follow through with their responsibilities. Many times, the boys don’t purposefully disregard their responsibilities. They simply don’t have the skills necessary to manage their time and follow through with their plans. This article is designed to give parents some ideas to help their teen learn to follow through with their responsibility.

As a parent, it can be extremely frustrating when your teen son doesn’t follow through with his responsibilities. Whether it’s something as trivial as putting his dirty dishes in the dishwasher or something as important as preparing for exams, it’s stressful to know that you can’t count on him. It can cause unnecessary anxiety for everyone in your home.

Some teens purposefully ignore their responsibilities and neglect them to do something more enjoyable. If your son struggles with learning disabilities like ADD or ADHD, though, he might not be purposefully ignoring his responsibility. Many teens with learning disabilities or behavioral disorders have a tough time understanding how to follow through with their responsibilities. They struggle with maintaining focus and comprehending all of the individual steps required to complete a task.

If your son is purposefully disregarding his responsibilities, he might need additional support. Teens who understand what is required of them and how to do it are usually capable of meeting their expectations. However, they might not care enough to do what’s needed. Some teens who rebel against authority find success by attending a residential treatment center for teen boys.

In either situation, there are a few strategies that you can use to help your teen learn to follow through with their responsibility.

How to help teens follow through with their responsibilities

Though it can be frustrating to teach your teen how to follow through with responsibilities, know that many teens need the extra help. Understanding how to break down tasks doesn’t come easily to everyone. Likewise, plenty of teens don’t have the forethought to see how their current actions can affect their long-term goals. Some teens need some additional coaching and support to take on more responsibility.

Set goals

Whether you’re an adult or a teenager, it’s important to know your goals. Without a goal in mind, all behavior is aimless. As a teenager, it’s tough to know what your long-term goals are. Many teens haven’t thought very far into the future, and they don’t understand what adulthood is like. So, help them set realistic goals.

If your teenager is struggling with responsibility, don’t set super lofty goals. Set goals that they can understand and that seem attainable. If the goal feels too big, they won’t care very much about it.

Some ideas for teenage goals include:

  1. Pass all my classes

  2. Stop getting in so much trouble

  3. Make some money

  4. Get into college

  5. Show my parents that I can handle more freedom

Once your teen has some specific goals in mind, you can help them relate their actions to their goals.

Break down tasks

Some teens get overwhelmed by big projects, so they don’t start them. Other teens understand the project’s overall goal, but they don’t know how to act on it. So they do whatever seems right in the moment without giving it much thought.

If your teen struggles with big projects, teach them how to break it down into smaller steps. Have them start by thinking about the end result of the project. Then, tell them to keep asking, “how will I do that?” until they reach a starting point.

As an example, consider if your teen needs to find a summer job. Have them ask themselves the following question to break down this goal into more attainable steps:

  1. 1. How will I get a summer job? Get hired at a business.

  2. 2. How will I do that? Get an interview at that business.

  3. 3. How will I do that? Apply for a job that interests me by finding out what their application process is.

  4. 4. How will I do that? Figure out where I might want to work and look it up.

  5. 5. How will I do that? Talk to friends about places that they work and look for jobs online.

By breaking large tasks into smaller tasks, the end goal becomes much more achievable.

Set timelines

Once you help your teen break down the steps for their tasks, have them set timelines for each of the steps. Many teens have no clue how long things take, even if it’s something that they’ve done a million times. By setting timelines, they can learn to look at a clock and note how long something takes them.

Setting timelines also helps your teen learn how to manage their responsibilities. If they start putting their dirty dishes in the dishwasher as soon as they’re done with them, the dishes will never get a chance to pile up. Though this seems obvious, some teens need to have that specific timeline in mind to meet that goal.

If your teen still struggles with meeting his responsibilities, you might need additional help. Some teens don’t understand the process, and some teens refuse to do what’s asked of them. In either case, they need to learn the life skills necessary to follow through with their responsibilities and lead a successful life. Contact us at 866-255-3708 for more information about our program.

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