The National Parenting Center

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Teaching Responsibility

Outside the home, you must count on consequences for doing the teaching. As your teenager experiments, she’ll learn to take responsibility for her decisions and actions. Speak up only if your adolescent is going to do something dangerous or illegal. Otherwise, let the school of hard knocks take over.

If your teen has bad work habits, she’ll be released from her job. And, if your teen doesn’t complete her school work and homework, her grades will fall below her expectations. If she doesn’t practice hard for a sport, she’ll be pressured by the team and the coach to do better. If her mood or attitude is negative, she’ll lose some friends. And if she misspends her allowance and earnings, she’ll run out of money before the end of the month.

If by chance your teenager asks you for some advice, try to describe the pros and cons in as impartial a way as you can. Ask some questions, ones that help her think about the main risk. Then wrap it up by saying, “You’ll need to do what you think is best.” Teenagers need plenty of opportunities to learn from their own mistakes before they leave home.

During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.

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