TEENS AT HOME - responsibilities & chores



Generally speaking you get the behaviour in your home that you as a parent "model". Overall you set the tone for a generally happy or unhappy atmosphere, and levels of stress at home. That said, during adolescence children can be unreasonable and obstinate, sometimes apparently for no reason. Hormonal changes have long been held to be responsible for a great deal of this moodiness, which they are. But in addition to the ebb and flow of hormonal changes, recent research shows that their brains go through a big period of adjustment. During this time they find it harder to empathise with others and to understand your emotions. They literally can’t "read" if your face is frustrated and angry, or simply concerned. This makes communication even more difficult.


Sleep research also shows teens need a greater amount of sleep which many parents take as laziness. However this need for extra sleep will be compounded if you haven't set boundaries on how late they stay up!


Before we get to specifics here are some general principles to apply to the way you run your household:


1. Ask your teenager about their opinion and views in general conversations. By encouraging them to think through issues generally, and express their beliefs, they will be better equipped to do this at home, as issues arise.


2. Explore with them what they think are the positive things are about their home life and what they'd like to change. They may come up with some interesting suggestions!


3. Raise your expectations! If you're expecting problems from them you'll probably get problems. It's easy when you've had some difficulties with your teenager to expect these to continue. By expecting the best you may just raise the bar for their behaviour.


4. Finally, I find the parents who get in the most difficulties are those frightened of their teenagers - never a productive atmosphere in the home. Worry and anxiety are acceptable, but if you've got into a situation where you fear your teen's reactions or behaviour, than seek help from a professional. Your GP can refer you to an adolescent specialist and there are some useful contacts at the end of this article.


*CHORES & RESPONSIBILITIES - as children grow into the teenage years they should take on more and more responsibility. However if you haven't been getting them into the "helpful habit", as I call it, then you'll find it very hard to suddenly get your teenager to take on household chores.


Sit down together and make out a list of basic chores. Talk through who best can do what and at what time. Once you've formed a basic Schedule then write it out clearly and post on your fridge door.


I'm a firm believer that pocket-money should be based on having completed delegated chores. Your teen will not learn about the real world, and you won’t be doing them any favours, if you let them get away with doing nothing and then pay them for it! There's no job like that on the job market today!


Ensure your teen knows that chores left undone will mean pocket-money is confiscated or, e.g., something like TV privileges are deducted.


If you notice chores left undone calmly but firmly state that they must be done by ‘X’ time. If they’re not done by that time, subtract money from their weekly sum. You can agree in advance how much will be taken off. For example, if their pocket money is £10 a week then after discussion with them you might agree that, e.g., each chore undone is £2 off that sum. They soon learn it can make a difference not doing chores! Negotiating such things in advance is far better than arguing over pocket money at the end of a week when various chores have been left undone. And as you've made them part of this process then they're taking on responsibility for their own behaviour.

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