I have a teenager in my house. I have a teenager that everyone we know raves about, saying things like, “she is reliable, responsible, well spoken, mature, and a good kid.” Having said all of that she is still a teenager. She still needs me to guide and teach her. She still needs help with things like accountability. Here is my help for holding teen accountable – in other words the things I am doing in my home, with my teenager, to help her with accountability.
I begin with our story:
Even with a solid base, plenty of role modeling, and a naturally old soul, our teen still has her hang-ups. She still requires my attention, guidance, and support.
During the latter part of last year I left her too much to herself. While she is typically responsible and reliable, we found her, “going through the motions” with some of her school responsibilities. Things like Facebook, texting, SnapChat, Vine, and web surfing were just too much of a temptation and distraction during the day.
It was also very easy for me to leave her to her own means. She was quiet during work hours, marking off her check boxes and not requiring too much from me at at time when her siblings needed so much attention. Unfortunately, I skimmed by with the easy road and found myself at an impass when the end of the year came and I realized what was going on.
This left her with a pile of work not done and me wondering not only how to get back on track, but what could I do to maintain a healthy balance with my teen.
Holding Teens Accountable
Here are some of the things I have changed to move in a direction of self-reliability and responsibility. In general we are working to remove distractions, and put check and balances in place to help keep her accountable for her work.
1. Work Environment
Last year I thought she needed her own space so her siblings would not be a distraction. I was wrong. This gave her too much free reign, and not enough time with me nearby to check in.
This year we put her back in the homeschool room with us so she is directly visible to me. This allows me to easily answer her questions, and quickly assess if she is staying focused and on track. It makes me much more accessible to her and I am finding she is asking questions and interacting where when she was in her room I never saw or heard from her.
I clearly laid out what I expected from her, and what the ramifications would be if she did not adhere to my expectations. (read about her planner in Time Management for Teens)
These were things like no phone, social media, etc. until all work is completed and checked by me; All work must be neat, and every questioned answered; Planner must be organized with the clear lesson/chapter/pages, etc for each subject and every entry.
3. Follow Through
This is a big one for us as parents. One that is very hard for me sometimes. It is easy to get tired and lax as it seems as though there is a never ending amount of work and tasks for us as parents to keep our children on the right path.
We need to make the time and stay the course with the boundaries we have laid out. This is where I was lacking, BIG TIME!
Now I ask the questions, I stop to read the papers and check the work immediately so things don’t get out of control. Keeping short accounts of her work is important. This way she learns to make task lists, and follow through on them.
4. Frequent Check-Ins
As I a parent, and especially as a homeschooling mom, I need to keep short accounts with my children. My teen needs me to be involved. While the primary accountability lies with her, she needs me to be ever present to help keep her on track, and offer advice/guidance when she is faltering. This may be in a social manner where I am checking in with the parents of her friends when she is over there, or academically asking her how things are going and where she may or may not be struggling.
5. Removed Distractions
In my previous scenario her computer was not restricted and she had access to her phone during school hours (she would frequently walk by our central charging location to check messages – read about this in 5 Ways To Limit Your Teens Texting). Now her computer is restricted and the phone is totally off limits until all work and chores have been completed. (read about this in How to Create a Morning Routine & Chore Chart)
She used up way too much thought and energy on these items during the day, taking away the quality focus that her schoolwork needed and deserved.
6. Visible Accountability
The two things we use are her High School Planner for her schoolwork which I talk about in Time Management for Teens, and a white board Chore Chart System. These create visible lists and accountability for our teen to reference and to help me more easily keep track of her responsibilities.
When we were having real trouble with this I also printed out a separate sheet where she could log each day in real time. This meant accounting for each block of time during the day to show what she had accomplished and how long it was taking her. What she realized was how much time she was squandering by letting her mind wander and avoid tasks. By tracking each thing in a focused manner she realized how much less time her tasks could take to complete, then leaving her with time to have the phone, computer, tv, etc.
7. Stay the Course
This goes hand in hand with following through. Not only do I need to keep short accounts through each day, sticking to the plan of expectations, but I also need to do this day after day.
In the real world this translates into me, needing to be on my game every day to be there to help hold her accountable to her responsibilities.
If the work isn’t done, or needs correcting, even if I dread her sometimes venomous response, I need to hold her to correcting and completing, EVERY DAY for the LONG HAUL.