Consistent Responsibility, Accountability, and Consequences for Teens: Parents’ Role
Ivana Pejakovic, B.Sc., MA
Responsibility and accountability, or rather the lack of it is why teens make reckless choices. It’s because they don’t have to be accountable for their behaviour. If there’s no consequences to worry about, at least not consistently, why shouldn’t they do what feels good in the moment? They know there probably isn’t any discomfort coming their way.
Let’s use an example parents have to deal with. What would happen if you didn’t pay your electricity bill? The electric company would consistently disconnect your electricity if you didn’t pay it on time; and you know, without a doubt, the consequence would come. If your electricity company was inconsistent with the punishment… perhaps you wouldn’t be as motivated to pay on time every month. You’d be willing to take the chance.
This is why consistency is one of the most important things in parenting. It fosters responsibility and accountability for your child’s behaviour (and reduces excuses). If you have been inconsistent in your parenting, it’s never too late to start.
1. Create a list of the areas your teen is lacking responsibility and accountability.
2. Then examine how you handle his/her irresponsibility. What about your behaviour allows him to get away with his/her transgressions?
3. What rules/ consequences can be put in place so s/he learns to take responsibility?
4. Once you figure out these rules/consequences, you need to consistently carry them out.
Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach Toronto