Teens, like the rest of us need to LOVE, to PLAY and to feel NECESSARY. As parents we all try as hard as we can to make our kids feel loved even though they don't always seem to receive our well-intentioned feelings that way, right? And, yes we love to see our kids laughing,having friends and having some play time. You agree with that one as well, right? Well I have a big concern about another equally important aspect of their young lives. As a clinical psychologist who works with teens all week long and as a mother and a friend I believe strongly that we often forget to make our kids feel necessary. Let me explain on several levels. First, we all need to wake up feeling that there are people who are counting on us and therefore have a reason to start the day. Two, it is no secret that individuals are less likely to feel irrelevant and even get depressed if they feel that they are needed and counted upon. And three, parents in their effort not to put too much on their teens' plate often give them little responsibility in the home and in the family. That is a problem. It is a big problem. There is always room on our kids' plates for a little side dish of helping out in the family.
Listen when kids don't want to socialize, go to school or even go to soccer practice etc. I always remind them that they have a responsibility. There are friends and teammates who are counting on them. Similarly, our kids need to know that they are relevant members of TEAM FAMILY regardless of what and who the family consists of. No, I am not in favor of paying kids for pitching in at home. Their reward should be a feeling of accomplishment, parents' gratitude and learning that a community/family depends on the smooth functioning of the whole team. You have to trust me on this. Every time I suggest involving teens in chores or jobs around the house they may initially act put upon but eventually they feel better about themselves and the family starts to feel more cohesive. And, the teens get upset if someone else does their job and usurps their role. I have seen self-esteem increase when everyone feels that their contribution is valuable. Trust me on this one and give it a try. I am not referring to monthly tasks. Instead, I am referring to daily tasks that don't take lots of time but that are accomplished quickly and are not necessarily strenuous.
For the younger teens consider simple tasks like loading the dishwasher, setting the table, feeding the dog, sweeping or perhaps putting the dishes in the sink. For older teens consider tasks such as walking the dog, doing some grocery shopping, helping a younger sibling with
homework, raking leaves or shoveling snow or even cooking a meal or preparing breakfast. Make the task fit their age and where they are developmentally.
We don't need to raise a group of entitled teens who focus only on themselves or whatever type of electronic equipment that they are plugged into. Our kids should always have a sense of their responsibility toward others and toward the communities that they live in. Good habits start at home. Agreed?