Encouraging Your Teen to Be More Independent

Congratulations – your child is now a teen! That means it’s time for them to start learning the skills they’ll need throughout their life. Making the jump from doing everything for your child to allowing them the freedom and responsibility to become independent can be tricky.

Luckily, this is totally normal. This transitional period is so important, for both parents and teens. Whether it’s grocery shopping, changing a tire, or keeping themselves accountable and getting things done on time, there are plenty of life skills for teens that you can promote to help them become independent adults, and here’s how to start.

Show Some Support

As a parent, watching your child begin to do things on their own can be hard. Showing your teen that you care about them and supporting their efforts in becoming independent will ultimately help them succeed. Be interested in what they are doing, and show up for them when they do need you. Make sure they know they can trust you, and that they can always come to you when they need your guidance. This is not only tough for you as a parent, but it’s all new for them, too! It can be difficult to navigate the world on their own, so be sensitive to the fact that they still may ask for help.

Give Them Responsibilities

One of the best ways to ensure your teen finds success in being independent is by doing so slowly. Find one or two tasks that they can be in charge of on their own. This will give them a sense of responsibility, and learn to hold themselves accountable. As they gain confidence in doing tasks such as grocery shopping, taking care of the pet, or other household chores, you can add more. Be sure to help teach your teen anything they don’t already know how to do, such as filling their car with gas, changing a tire, or anything else they’ll have to know as they grow older.

Let Them Fail

Because your teen is not a kid anymore, it’s hard to remember that they are still learning and growing. They aren’t going to be perfect, and won’t know how to handle every task that comes their way. Understand that they will make mistakes! It can be hard as a parent not to jump in and correct your teen’s mistakes, but it’s so important to let them work through it on their own if you want them to grow into an independent adult.

Create Boundaries

One of the biggest concerns parents have when it comes to giving their teens independence is safety. If you let your teen go off on their own, how will you know they’re protected? The answer is boundaries. Letting your teen become independent doesn’t mean letting go of all rules. Be sure the rules you set are fair for their age. For example, setting a curfew for 11pm may be reasonable, but setting one for 7pm may not be. The key is balance — understand that although you’re gently pushing them towards independence, it’s ok to give them some rules to protect them. It’s also smart to discuss safety practices with them, so they are better prepared if any situation were to arise.

Learn to Let Go

This may be the hardest step of them all! Take a deep breath, and let go. Stepping back and letting your teen figure things out all on their own is not easy, but it will pay off for them in the long run. 

At Tilly’s Life Center, we are all about giving your teen the skills they need to succeed now, and throughout life. Whether it’s coping with crisis, managing stress, or communication skills, we want to make sure they have the confidence to proceed with life as an independent and successful adult! Learn more at https://tillyslifecenter.org/