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10 things teenagers should know how to do by themselves

Giving your child chores and responsibilities doesn’t just make life easier for you — it’s good for them, too!

When a child accomplishes something on their own or learns a new skill, it boosts their self-esteem and prepares them for adulthood. ‘Teaching independence is not something you start when they’re 14,’ Kathy Lynn, a parenting columnist, told Today’s Parent in the US. ‘It starts with having them dress themselves when they’re three, and help pack their bags for a family trip when they’re nine.’

With that in mind, here are 10 things your kids should be doing on their own by the time they’re teenagers:

1. Wash their own laundry

When they’re under the age of 12, give them simpler tasks like gathering dirty clothes, folding clean items, and putting pieces away. Then give them more responsibility when they master with those tasks. By the time they’re 13, they should know how to properly use a laundry machine, says Kathy

2. Earn and manage money 

Teens should value money and know how to manage simple finances. ‘[Your child should] start understanding that when people go above and beyond, they get rewarded for it,’ Danny Kofke, the author of A Bright Financial Future: Teaching Kids About Money Pre-K Through College for Life-Long Success! told Learnvest.com. Your teenager should also be able to fill out a deposit form, and use other basic money-managing tools.

3. Prepare meals

Whether it’s simply putting together their own lunch, preparing a snack or even cooking a simple meal for the family, your teenager should know his or her way around the kitchen. ‘By the time your kid is in high school, they really ought to be able to do everything related to their own care, if they had to,’ Julie Lythcott-Haims, the author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid For Success told Parenting.com. ‘I’m not saying stop making dinner for your kids, but I am saying you ought to have confidence that they could make a breakfast for themselves, that they could make a lunch.’

4. Manage and complete their homework

Teenagers should be able to organise their work load, meet deadlines, and complete assignments without help or reminders from their parents. ‘Too many parents are trying to achieve the short-term win of the better grade by redoing the math or rewriting the essay,’ Julie told Today.com

‘The short-term win of the better grade is leading to the long term cost that your kid thinks I’m not actually capable of doing anything without my parents helping. They become young adults who are bewildered because they’re unaccustomed to thinking, doing, and planning for themselves.’

5. Politely and respectfully talk to adults

This includes teachers, coaches, neighbours, and family friends, but also people they don’t know and may need to communicate with, like service workers. ‘We tell them ‘don’t talk to strangers,’ but the right message is learn how to discern the one bad stranger from the vast majority of good ones,’ Julie said. 

Related: 5 things parents need to stop doing in exam time

6. How to deal with an emergency 

Teens should be prepared to handle worst case scenarios — emergency room visits, car accidents, and other situations. In addition to knowing who to contact when a crisis occurs, you should take them to your local police station to meet an officer.

They can go over what to do in an accident, and other emergency situations. ‘They’re more likely to listen to [police officers] than to their parents,’ Neale Godfrey, the president of GreenStreet Commons, told the Washington Post.

7. Navigate nearby areas 

They’ll be driving pretty soon, so at the very least they should be able to get through their hometown and know how to use public transportation should they need to.

8. Tip when appropriate

Tipping is not only a part of our culture, but it’s also a valuable way to teach your kids proper manners and the fact that hard work should be rewarded. Make sure they know when and how much to tip.

9. Wake themselves up in the morning

Teens are perfectly capable of waking themselves up in the morning, and if they hit that snooze button too often, they’ll quickly learn the consequences. ‘My foursome have been expected to get themselves up on early school mornings since they were young,’ Amy Carney, a parenting expert and a mom of four told Red Tricycle.

‘There are days one will come racing out with only a few minutes to spare before they have to be out the door. The snooze button no longer feels luxurious when it’s caused you to miss breakfast.’

10. Clean the house

Household chores, including cleaning and organising, will benefit both your child and your home. ‘It’s a wonderful way to delegate responsibility and keep the household moving forward,’ Stephanie O’Leary, a clinical psychologist and author of Parenting in the Real World told WomansDay.com. ‘There’s nothing better than a child feeling like they’re contributing to a task the entire family is undertaking.’

From: Good Housekeeping US

PHOTO: iStock/DGLimages


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