How to Help Your Teen Be More Independent

When you have children and especially teens, one of your big priorities might be helping them learn to be independent. Isn’t that ultimately everyone’s parenting goal? We want our children to be able to tackle life’s challenges on their own, and how can we, as parents, help facilitate that?

There has been a trend over the past couple of decades that parents like to do more and more for their kids, which is where the term helicopter parent came from. How much is too much, though?

When your kids don’t learn and practice independence fairly early on, it can be tough for them to deal with things later on in life.

The following are things you can do as a parent to help facilitate a sense of independence among your children.

If You Have a Teen, Encourage Them to Get Their License

Many teens no longer want to get their driver’s license, and it was once a major rite of passage. There are a lot of different reasons for this. If your teen doesn’t want to, you might want to work with them and encourage them to get their license.

For example, teens might not feel like they need to go out and about to spend time with friends as much anymore because they can contact and communicate with them on social media and through mediums like text messages.

Many teens also feel a sense of anxiety about getting their license, and that’s a reasonable fear, or they might want to wait until they don’t have to follow graduated licensing rules in their state before getting a license.

As a parent, try and work with your teen to help them learn how to drive and how to prepare for their test. Learning to drive can allow a teen to get a job and learn responsibility in a new way than they would otherwise.

Work with Your Teen on Problem-Solving

Being able to think critically about things, weigh the pros and cons and then come to a final decision is an important part of independence.

Rather than telling your teen the “right” answer to everything, instead, work with them on how they make choices. Encourage your teen to remain calm and avoid making decisions based on emotions.

Have them list outcomes that could occur based on different decisions and have them outline some pros and cons for each.

You also want your teen to learn how to trust their gut on certain things.

Money Management

Either help your teen find a job or give them jobs they can do around the house to earn money. Managing money creates a sense of understanding about cause and effect and does help a teen feel accomplished and independent.

If your teen wants to spend money on something you think is unwise, let them do it. It’s a learning experience, and the goal of helping your teen be independent isn’t removing consequences. It’s helping them learn what consequences are and how they impact their life.

Time Management

Resist the urge to micromanage every second of your teen’s life. Don’t be the one to wake them up or make sure they get places on time. Let them do that.

You can sit down each week and go over your teen’s schedule with them, and have them detail what’s on the calendar for them and what they need to achieve.

Encourage your teen to be realistic with how they manage their time as well. It’s not possible to do everything, no matter how much we try, and you should help your teen understand that.

Balancing your own time in the way you see as best plays a big role in developing independence.

You have to realize as a parent that if you try to micromanage your child’s life, particularly when they enter their teen years, it’s likely to lead to rebellion.

Teens not only want independence, but they need it. It’s a critical part of the development as they move into adulthood, and if they don’t get some level of freedom to be independent, they might take the attitude that they have to go to extremes to take control of their lives.

You want your teen to be self-motivated by intrinsic factors rather than by threats or fears on your part. Along with this comes the reality that mistakes will be made along the way, but trying to help your teen avoid all mistakes isn’t parenting, and it’s not setting them up well for their future.

Image by Tawny van Breda from Pixabay 

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