How can I become a responsible adult

7 tips to help your teen learn to be more responsible

During puberty, children hang between childhood and the adult world

neither one nor the other fits that well. Parents, too, are sometimes unsure whether they should “pimp” their youngsters a bit or demand more independence from them. It's simple: it's best to do both to a reasonable extent!

It is a declared educational goal of all parents that their child is able to take responsibility for himself at the age of majority. This includes a certain degree of independence and independence, which they learn and develop especially during puberty. However, at the age of one, children increasingly begin to test themselves in autonomy and independence, so that by the age of eleven they can cope with many everyday challenges on their own. However, due to their development, children and young teenagers tend to act impulsively and rashly, as they cannot yet foresee the consequences of their actions.

If this child behavior is dangerous, the parents or other adults should intervene at this point in order to protect the child accordingly. For example, responsible parents prevent a toddler from walking blindly onto a street and a young teenager from watching TV until midnight every evening or from eating only chips and cola. In the course of puberty, however, parents should withdraw more and more so that the young person can take on this important regulatory function himself.

A sense of responsibility leads to more self-confidence

Those who take responsibility for their lives mostly regulate their daily affairs alone and take care of themselves. In addition, they are able to set themselves goals, work on them and thus take their fate into their own hands. To do this, teenagers need, among other things, the ability to assess the possible consequences of their own actions. This means that your teenager comes to a realistic risk assessment before making a decision ("What happens if…?"). However, taking responsibility does not only mean consciously deciding for or against something, but also being responsible for your own actions. Of course, this also includes admitting wrong decisions or omissions. We find that difficult the more guilty feelings arise. (In this respect, it is not at all helpful to work heavily with blame in your upbringing!) Noticing your own mistakes should then also lead to apologizing from the affected person or to making serious efforts to make amends.

Being able to take responsibility for oneself also promotes self-confidence and makes you “strong”: Your child gets the feeling of being able to make a difference, to take control of his or her life, to achieve and shape something. In this way, your teenage boy gains more and more power over his life, it creates a feeling of self-power. This is also called self-efficacy. The more self-effective a person experiences, the stronger, more stable and more capable they feel. On the other hand, people who do not experience themselves as self-effective often feel helpless, insecure and controlled by others. So the ability to take responsibility for yourself is not only a chore or necessary evil of growing up, but also an important building block for your child's mental health and wellbeing.

Why it is difficult for young people to take responsibility

Young people find themselves in a difficult situation: on the one hand they want to grow up and become independent, on the other hand they fear it too and don't really know how to do it. In addition, they still lack the right foresight to really plan ahead (e.g. their professional career). As in the first phase of autonomy between the ages of 2 and 4 (popularly known as the “defiant phase”), strong internal conflicts also arise during puberty: You want to grow up, but you can't yet.

This ambivalence leads to great mood swings, fears or even insecurity. So keep in mind that things are not going to be easy for your teen at the moment, and be patient inside and out as much as possible. Every now and then your “cool teen” just wants to “sit on your lap” a bit - he needs attention, help and attention, and sometimes cuddles too. Take it easy and give him what he needs: it's normal!


7 Tips: How to Increase Your Child's Responsibility

1. Push your child (occasionally) out of their comfort zone!

  • Think carefully about which tasks you want to relieve your child from now or whether it is not time to give up certain habits. Can they now use public transport or bike to go to sports and piano lessons?
  • Are you constantly chasing after your child to do their homework or study for a vocabulary test? Then tell them kindly that from now on they will have to take care of it themselves. Perhaps your child forgets this once or twice and receives a bad grade on the test as a receipt. Then at the latest the penny has probably fallen.
  • Make an appointment with your child to contact you if they need help or support from you.

2. Do not hold your child against "mistakes" and wrong decisions.

  • We all make mistakes in life and regret some of the things we've done. So don't expect your child to always make the right decisions, that would be overwhelming.
  • Take it easy if your child “screwed up” and refrain from making derogatory, ironic, or accusatory remarks. Rather, think together about how things can and should go on.

3. Encourage your child to think and give them a say.

  • Thinking and planning responsibly has to be learned. Therefore, your teen needs the opportunity to express his thoughts and discuss his plans with you.
  • Ask your child for their opinion more often, for example when it comes to family decisions. Be sure to take them seriously - even if you disagree.
  • Allow your child more and more to determine something for themselves. This applies to the furnishing style of your room as well as the choice of clothes, hobbies and friends.

4. Give your child proper appreciation.

  • Don't praise your teen for taking things for granted or for trifles.
  • Be careful with “praise,” as there is always a certain hierarchy involved in praise. To put it a little exaggerated: only the clever can praise the stupid, so to speak. So instead of “You did that really well!” Say “Are you as happy as I am about your good grade?” Or “I think it's impressive how independently you solved this task!

5. Be a good role model.

  • If you are a good role model for your child when it comes to responsibility, they will learn to take responsibility on the side.
  • However, it is not only important that you set an example for him to do all duties responsibly. It is just as important to set an example, to pay attention to your own physical and psychological limits and to be mindful of yourself. After all, we are also responsible for our health

6. Get a certain amount of help.

  • Growing up and taking on responsibility sometimes also means doing activities that are not always fun. Teenagers can have fun cuddling with their dogs, but taking them for a walk or feeding them regularly seems to be a nuisance again
  • Give your teenagers such everyday tasks. These don't have to be activities that take up a lot of time: it's more about doing them on a regular basis.
  • However, it is important that you discuss these obligations beforehand and jointly determine when and how they must be carried out. Also, discuss in advance exactly what will happen if your child does not keep the appointment.

7. Leave enough room for decision-making and expand it continuously.

  • Is your child going to a party? Then don't decide when they should come home straight away, but ask them when they want to. If you think the time they have suggested is too late, negotiate with your child and agree on a time. The more your child feels that they are being respected, the less defiant they will be. The older it gets, the more often it should decide for itself when, where and for how long. By their 16th birthday at the latest, your child should be able to use their time budget reasonably realistically