Getting your children to help-out around the house can be a difficult task, but if you start the routine from the age of 2 years by the time, they’re thirteen, they will be well used to your expectations.

You’ll be surprised at the amount of household tasks a teenager can achieve. By allowing your teenagers to carry out age appropriate responsibilities it encourages trust and accountability within your relationship. It also teaches them what it means to contribute to a team, allows them to feel valued and appreciated as well as build their self-esteem.

Once your teenager proves that they are able to handle the responsibilities you’re entrusting to them, they are then able to earn your confidence and grow into having more freedom in their social environments. As a parent you can then use this tool to negotiate other terms and conditions as they grow closer to their adult years, 16-19 years.

Here’s a list of household chores that your teenage is able to help with:

  • Packing away their belongings
  • Keeping their bedrooms clean and tidy
  • Washing the laundry and hanging it out to dry
  • Folding and putting away clean clothes
  • Making their beds daily
  • Keeping their school cases/bags neat and tidy
  • Taking responsibility of finishing their daily homework
  • Taking responsibility of packing their sports clothes for school events
  • Vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, dusting
  • Setting and clearing the table
  • Washing and putting away the dishes
  • Feeding, walking family pets; cleaning birdcages and litter boxes
  • Playing chef and cooking dinner one night a week
  • Helping prepare vegetables for dinner
  • Making their school lunches for school
  • Helping out with the shopping while in the store – give them their own list
  • Doing gardening work
  • Washing the family car
  • Taking out the rubbish
  • From the age of 14 -15 they are able to baby sit their siblings
  • Once they have their drivers’ licence, they are able to run to the store for you or collect their sibling from school.

A Teenager’s bedroom – Enter at your own risk

Parents have struggled with the question ‘Who has jurisdiction over an adolescent’s bedroom?’ for many years. In my opinion this depends on the teenager and the parent, for the best results a compromise needs to be agreed upon. Let’s hear what both sides have to say.

Teenagers will insist that it’s an invasion of their privacy and NO-ONE is allowed in their bedroom at any time. That they should be able to do whatever they want in it. If that includes leaving an obstacle course of junk, clothes and magazines on the floor, or a boy behind closed doors, that’s their business. Parents will counter that it is their responsibility to check a teenager’s bedroom, it’s their home and their house rules. Like it or lump it.

What works is a compromise between both parent and teenager, let them do whatever they like in their bedroom as long as they take full responsibility for their dirty clothes, dishes and whatever other health hazard they can come up with. But a firm rule of an open-door policy on visits from the opposite sex.

It’s a suggestion that some conditions be made:

  1. He/she must keep the door to his/her bedroom closed whenever he/she is not home so that Mom or Dad’s friends don’t have to be subjected to the mess.
  2. Mom and Dad will not be cleaning their bedroom, collecting dirty washing. If their washing is not put into the laundry, then it doesn’t get washed.
  3. He/she is not allowed to leave his/her mess around the house but is limited to their bedroom only.
  4. His/her bedroom must be cleaned once a week.

To give an allowance or not

It’s a traditional idea to give your teenagers an allowance, however many parents are more concerned with the wants of their children that they lose perspective on what their children really need. And what children need more than ‘things’ is the valuable life lessons of hard work, the value of money and ‘earning their keep’.

Let’s unpack each idea:

  1. Teaching children, the value of hard work is not a benefit to you as parents but to them as human being, being able to understand the idea of working as an adult. They will defiantly complain about it now, but hard work is a cure for entitlement and someday they’ll Thank you.
  2. When giving children an allowance it’s highly suggested to have expected terms set in place, give them something to pay for every month like their monthly data or calling minutes. Teach them how to budget and use savings plans to achieve a higher goal like buying a new PS game for example.
  3. An alternative to allowance is to allow them to earn ‘commission’. You can use this as a tool to encourage them to complete their household responsibilities enthusiastically. If they work well, they are given their commission. If not, then the consequence is then losing the benefit of receiving their commission. *Keep in mind that commission chores should be separate from family chores, there are things that your children should do just because they’re part of the family. Make these terms very clear.

For every age there are appropriate responsibilities and life lessons to be learnt. Preparing your teenagers for adult life is the single most important thing you can do for them.

For more support visit www.redthinking.co.za and book your free consultation. We are here to teach your children to live a happy and positive life.