Our young teens often ‘feel’ like adults, but as parents, we habitually still treat them like kids. The fact is, they are still ‘kids’ in some respects, but they are also growing up and evolving into 21st century teenagers (kind of like adolescent adults). Transitioning from tween to teen responsibilities is a see-saw that many of us, including myself, are precariously trying to balance.
I sometimes get it wrong, by being too strict and then other times I horrify myself when I think my young teen is ready for the next responsibility and it totally back-fires on me.
The transition from tween to a young Teen is tricky and can see-saw from:
- A tween acting or wanting to be treated like an ‘adult’ one second and all they think ‘comes with that’; but then still expecting to get away with child-like behaviour when it suits them.
- A parent expecting them to be a kid and not grow up to fast; but wanting them to take responsibilities when it suits us.
It’s a complicated stage as navigating the change of some activities, behaviours and responsibilities can leave us sitting on the fence as they feel like a too big a jump to take.
Transitioning from tween to teen responsibilities
I urge you to keep following your family values, look at things with the big picture in mind and figure out what are the age appropriate responsibilities for your household.
Talk with other parents whose opinions you respect and trust (or have older children so have ‘been there’) to bounce thoughts and ideas around with.
Keep the dialogue open with your teen.
Talk about how you expect to see in them show a relative level of maturity with how they handle their current responsibilities. How this helps give you the confidence that they are ready take on more mature ones.
As you see them follow these through on things you’ve agreed on, it propels you to be open, to repeat it next time or take it a step further.
Take a re-look at their existing chores and family responsibilities and see where adjustments can be made for transitioning from tweens to young teens.
Types of responsibilities young teens can take on:
- Book appointments / enquire
Start with simple phone call enquiries… let them write down what they will say.
Get them to call and make enquiries on an activity, costs, opening times or even to order a pizza.
Let them make the booking. Let them follow it through.
Keep an ear out to overhear that the details have been relayed correctly (or when they are at school, call to confirm yourself if need be!).
- Christmas / holiday job
If your young teen is interested and is ready to take it seriously, consider them getting a holiday job.
You could try asking at your workplace if they can do some part time odd jobs eg. light cleaning, clearing mail, wrap all the staff clients and suppliers Christmas presents and hampers, put up their Christmas decorations, refill all your gallons of Civil Defence water, filing, laminating etc…
- Shop to a budget
Set a budget for the Christmas presents that they need to buy eg. for their close friends and siblings.
They can calculate how much they ‘could’ spend on each person then go shop for the items.
Yes, they may end up overspending on some, but that’s when they have to get creative with their ideas and think outside the box to make that budget still work.
- Make dinner once a week
From start to finish, asking for your guidance if they need it. Try a weekend night if your weekday evenings are packed full of activities, homework, study and exam crunching mode like they are at our place.
- Budget – decide – shop – cook
Set them a budget, they have to decide on ‘what’ to cook, they have to go and shop for all the items and then they cook it!
They can put their washing on, learning how to sort (and soak), load, start and follow through to the line or dryer.
- Make a suggestion for consideration
What do I mean?
Where appropriate, get them to give you a suggestion for you to consider. Here’s an example: What time would be suitable for an absolute maximum go to sleep time for their sleepover?
I am often pleasantly surprised that my teen’s suggestion on things is less than I was about to set, but as it’s come from her, she is happy with it. Whereas if I had gone in with that from the beginning she would have no doubt reacted negatively.
- Snapper card / train ticket / key
Make them responsible for remembering these items themselves, as part of their ‘routine’.
For a long time I would always ‘remind/check’ with my teen if she had these items in her school bag.
But the time came to shift this responsibility totally to her.
The first 4 days were successful, then of the 5th day we were leaving home and I knew she had forgotten them (but knowing her schedule, I knew it was safe and appropriate), because I was confident that this needed to be the day for a lesson!
About 3.55pm she rang to say she had discovered she had left her wallet at home…and her keys!
As grumpy as she was about it that I wouldn’t instantly fix it for her, I still let her wear that consequence herself.
She had to walk all the way back to School in freezing cold wind (she was safe) and had to then simply wait a good hour and a half in the library for me to finish work (I didn’t rush). She hasn’t forgotten them since.
- Behaviour / consequences
Ensure consequences have transitioned with age.
What was once very effective at age 11, might not have the same effect now.
One consequence that works for us, now at the young teen stage is a ‘No Technology’ grounding for a relative 24/48 hours/week etc…
That’s tv, radio, Spotify, CDs, Internet, DVDs, MP3 player, Ipad, laptop etc…
It may seem harsh, but sometimes a short sharp 24 hours of NO Technology is more effective than just removing their main key item for a longer period.
One she did take it too literally, walking around in the dark bumping into things. I asked why she didn’t turn on the light on and her super snarky reply: “That’s technology.” She did have a point 🙂
- Regular part time job
Think outside the box and see if there is a light regular part time job they could apply for to work around homework, study, family time and rest.
- Setting guidelines
Ask them to come up with what they think is reasonable, acceptable behaviour for things they ask to have/do/attend.
For example: cellphone use, behaviour to and from school, when at an event etc…
Then check if these align with yours and add anything else they missed.
What we have found is there is less resistance setting it up; and more acceptance of the consequences when they have directly helped set the guideline.
- Grandparents / care for elderly etc…
You could give them the responsibility of popping into their grandparents (location dependent) on the way home and walking the dog or stacking wood or going to the shops for them or to read a long standing series to them for 30 minutes…
Anything that requires commitment to someone else, encourages empathy towards others and extra connection with people they love.
Another positive being that it also regularly shifts the focus away from themselves and onto someone else.
Other responsibilities to take on: Plan the road trip, research the location for activities, wake themselves up in the morning with an alarm, suitable increased cellphone/ technology usage, when appropriate, take care of themselves after school, make their own dinner and snacks for their friends for sleepovers…
Young teens get to these stages at different times and what is right for one family will be different from another.
I know my see-saw is continuing to wobble through the transitioning stage of seeing our kids maturing into Adolescent Adults.
What responsibilities have your young teens been taking on?
What been the hardest stage to let them grow into?
What strategies have you used for transitioning from tween to teen responsibilities?