Necessary Skills for Training Up Your Teenager
Written by Lee Gonet
Adolescence should be a time of preparation. Parents need to change gears and spend less time protecting and providing and more time teaching their children how to protect and provide for themselves. In other words, adulthood is just around the corner, but unfortunately, many children leave for college ill-prepared for the challenges that will face them.
In the January 2017 Hechinger Report, David Steiner stated that “No state right now is close to equating its high school graduation standard with…a college-career-starting standard.” A consequence of this failure is that over half a million entering freshmen are required to take remedial college classes each year.
Several new challenges face teens in college. Classes meet less often, but much more reading is required. Exams are less often, but more information is tested. Students are provided a syllabus for the entire semester, and missed assignments or exams receive a zero. No reminders, no late points, no excuses in college.
Thankfully, you can neutralize these trials by teaching your child good study habits now. To begin, always have your child complete homework without distractions in a central location.
Second, students should never have access to cell phones or social media while working. To be successful, students must learn to concentrate on one task at a time with focused attention.
Third, instill consequences for late or poor work. Until students demonstrate that they can complete their work in a timely and successful manner, they should not be allowed to work alone in their rooms.
Teens must also be held responsible for setting their own alarms, getting up by themselves, and managing their own work schedules. Remember that repercussions are more effective than constant reminders.
Teach your child to keep a daily calendar of timed tasks. In other words, Tuesday afternoon’s schedule might look like this: 3:30-5:00 soccer practice, drive home, shower; 5:30-6:00 Math: chapter 10, problems 1-5; 6:00-7:00 evening chores; 7:00-8:00 dinner and family time; 8:00-8:30 English: finish essay due in two days and give to mom to edit; 8:30-9:00 Science: chapter 9 notes; 9:00-10:00 relax (read, family time, social media, etc).
Appointment calendars are also excellent tools for managing large assignments because students can create study plans and schedule times to work over longer periods.
Many parents love serving their children; however, teenagers can become self-centered, unappreciative, and unskilled when too much is done for them. By the time young adults head to college, they should be able to cook, clean, wash clothes, and preform simple maintenance tasks such as hanging pictures, replacing lightbulbs, or changing tires.
In addition, children should plan and cook the family dinner once per week. They should do all their own laundry, and yes, they should even be responsible for completely cleaning a bathroom!
Being a part of the family means responsibly contributing to its success, and requiring your children to do so, teaches them to work independently for the good of the whole.
In addition to household responsibilities, children should learn to manage their own bank accounts, debit cards, checkbooks, and credit cards at a young age. Dave Ramsey reports that “kids learn that debt is just a way of life” and as a result “19% of bankruptcy filers are college students.”
To avoid this pitfall, provide your child with a personal allowance per month, teach them to budget their money, and hold them accountable for their budgets. The allowance should include all personal items: clothing, shoes, hygiene products, school supplies, entertainment, etc.
For this system to work, however, you must follow three rules:
1. Every month, review performance, praising, advising, and correcting as necessary.
2. Never buy any budgeted item for your child.
3. NEVER provide extra money if your child runs short. If teenagers suffer consequences for poor financial planning while still at home, they will become more cautious before creating unnecessary debt later.
Remember that God holds parents responsible to train our children, and not to provoke them to wrath. Rather than remind and nag, set the rules and follow through with consequences, lovingly applied, and you will raise efficient scholars as well as independent adults.