Teaching, not preaching, responsibility to a teen

It is important that you make it clear to your teenager that excuses will not be tolerated. When a teenager makes excuses and are allowed to do so, they are unable to see the consequences of their actions. The teenage years are really your last chance to mould your child into a respectful, responsible adult. If your teen is still making excuses for their actions, then it is clear that as a parent, you have some work to do. It is possible to enforce your rules and ask your teenager to be accountable for their decisions and actions in life without preaching or nagging at them.

The problem with excuses is that teenager will use them if they are shown that they will work. If they get a positive reaction from their parent the first few times, then they will continue to use excuses. What you need to do is stop accepting all excuses, not just the excuses that upset you. If you show your teen that no excuse will work and that they need to show accountability for their actions then your teen will stop believing they can get away with it. Every time they are let off the hook for an excuse, the parent is reinforcing that behavior.

When raising the issue of excuses with your teen you need to stick to the facts and not allow your teen to sidetrack you. If your teenager has been smoking when they know it is forbidden, then there need to be consequences for the bad behavior. Tell them what behavior you are upset about and what the consequence is.

Your teen could come up with many excuses as to why someone saw them smoking cigarettes and try to tell you that the person is mistaken, however if you have suspected for some time that your teen is smoking when they know that smoking is forbidden, you will soon be able to figure out whether their excuse is a lie or the truth. Even if you need to do a little more digging to get to the truth, the truth will eventually come out and you need to get your teen to take responsibility for their actions.

Encouraging your teen to take charge of their decisions can be a challenge as they may be used to getting away with excuses. It is important to give your teen a chance to gather their thoughts when you are in the midst of a difficult conversation. If you give your teen the space to think about what they want to say, they are more likely to own up to the bad behavior and take responsibility. You want the truth in the end and when teens start to lie; then this is a whole other problem.

You will need to get your teenager to take more responsibility as it will affect their development as an adult. When you hold your teen accountable for their actions and the things they say and do, you just might ensure that your teen will take control of their actions. You cannot afford to be sidetracked by what others did or did not do; those are side issues, most likely brought up by your teen to throw you off track. Your teenager may protest that everyone else was doing such and such, but this claim is irrelevant to what you are asking of your teenager. If your teenager knows the rules and chooses to break them, they need to receive consequences for their actions, regardless of what others were doing. Once you have laid out your rules, boundaries and the consequences your teen will receive for their actions, then the conversation is over. You must be clear that no negotiation will be entered into about your opinion or decision about punishment.

If you keep enforcing these types of boundaries right through to adulthood then you do have a better chance of teaching your teen to be accountable for their actions and decisions. It is not preaching or nagging, it is a simple case of enforcing the rules. If you feel as though you are constantly preaching the rules to your teen, then it sounds like they may have stopped listening. Parent’s nag, this is a given, but when it comes to getting through to a teenager, it can be frustrating and difficult not to nag, but nagging can be extremely negative to any relationship, so try not to do it. Enforce your rules, tell them what their consequences are and leave it at that. If your teen wants to discuss it, then by all means discuss it, but do not let your teen continue to make excuse after excuse, keep telling them that they need to take responsibility for their behavior. If this discussion turns into a back and forth argument, then end the conversation immediately.

You will eventually get there if you persevere and don’t give up. When teenagers try to shift the blame onto others, you will just need to ignore it. Your teen needs to know how to be responsible in life to succeed as an adult; otherwise they will end up as a whiny adult who blames everyone else except their own behavior.