By Karen LoBello

Independence, responsibility and other rewards that come from helping
out around the house
Some teens go off to college without knowing how to use a washing machine or make a bed. You want your teenager to be able to fend for himself when he leaves home. Teens are busy people with commitments to school, friends, jobs and extra-curricular activities, but they can also carve out time to help around the house. As a parent, you are the mentor, demonstrating how to do chores and teaching your child essential skills for his future.
Even though he may roll his eyes at the mention of chores, your teen gains benefits for life. When he completes a chore, he experiences a feeling of accomplishment, which is an integral part of his development.

“Encourage mature behaviour when you see it,” recommends Dr Susan Kuczmarski, educator, anthropologist and author of the book The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent’s Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go. Kuczmarski has done research on how teens learn social skills and become leaders. She recommends moving from a parent-to-child relationship with your teen to a person-to-person relationship.
Acknowledge her strengths, says Kuczmarski. Don’t simply say, “You did a good job cleaning out your closet.” Say, ”You must be proud of yourself for organising your closet.” When a teen knows her resources and can say positive things about herself, she’ll trust her intuition, take risks and achieve goals.

When a child handles tasks at home, she is better prepared to tackle eventual job responsibilities. Chores help her develop a good work ethic. She learns to stick to a task and complete it thoroughly.
“Work out a ‘chores plan’ together as a family,” suggests Kuczmarski. Let each child choose and take total responsibility for certain chores. The chores can be periodically changed to give your teen experience with a variety of responsibilities. “The key way to teach teens to become responsible is to use the common, daily chores connected to his everyday life. In keeping with personal, household, school and social responsibilities, teens learn many valuable life lessons, including the value of hard work,” says Kuczmarski.

There are basic skills in life that every person needs to learn in order to survive. A teen’s responsibilities typically include occasional cooking, cleaning, light shopping and laundry. These survival skills help him transition smoothly to self-sufficiency. Include chores that are directly related to his strengths, such as managing a scheduling calendar or keeping electronic equipment clean.
“Give your child enough direction and control to guide him, yet enough room to let him breathe, learn and discover on his own,” says Kuczmarski. There must be a balance between structure and flexibility or your child will rebel against helping at home.