Getting a Teen to Grow Up

By Tiffany Raiford
Helping your teen grow up sometimes means letting her learn the hard way.
Helping your teen grow up sometimes means letting her learn the hard way.

As a parent, you probably want to shout “grow up!” at your teen every so often, particularly when he makes a decision that can only be classified as immature. Your teenager is at a precarious stage in life; he’s no longer a child, but he’s not quite an adult, and his way of thinking is centered more on how he feels today than what he will deal with tomorrow. Regardless of how often your teen acts like a kid, he’s not going to grow up without a little guidance and help from you.

Teach Your Teen Responsibility

Part of helping your teen grow up is teaching her responsibility. According to, you need to set firm expectations for her -- otherwise known as rules. Ask her to help you create the rules by discussing what you think are reasonable expectations and what she considers reasonable expectations. From there, you need to compromise so that you both feel your expectations are fair. When she gets to provide input on the rules, she is more likely to feel they are fair and feel responsible for meeting those expectations.

Teach Your Teen to Make Good Decisions

As he makes his way toward adulthood, your teen will be faced with many decisions. Some are simple, such as deciding which movie to see. Others are more difficult, such as deciding which college to attend or whether he will accept that alcoholic beverage at a party. To grow up, he needs to learn how to problem-solve and make good decisions. You can teach him how to do this by helping him problem-solve and weigh the pros and cons of decisions, suggests WebMD. Role-play different scenarios or have him make a list of pros and cons to assist in his decision-making.

Teach Respect

In its handout "Points for Parents: About Helping Your Teen Make Responsible Choices," the American Medical Association (AMA) suggests that parents teach their teens the art of respect. Helping your adolescent grow up means helping her learn to respect herself. Teens who have self-respect make better, more mature decisions than teens who do not respect themselves. Making good decisions is a vital part of growing up. Teach her this by allowing her to voice her opinion without bias, by listening to her and by including her in family decisions. Learning to respect others will help her grow up enough to see that everyone has an opinion that deserves to be heard, listening is always important and making decisions is not always a singular activity.

Teach Your Teen to Learn from His Mistakes

No one grows up without making mistakes and facing the consequences. The AMA recommends letting your teen make his own decisions – when appropriate – and learn from the consequences. While you may not agree with the choice he makes, he won’t learn to make better choices unless he learns a lesson by facing the consequences. For example, if he wants to get a part-time job on top of school, baseball and his social life, you may not want him to. You know that he will be stretched too thin with all of this, but he’s more likely to learn to manage his time and schedule without overdoing it when he sees firsthand the consequences of this choice. Don’t protect him from the sleep deprivation and stress; let him suffer the consequences and learn the lesson they provide. Lessons learned the hard way are very much a reality for everyone who is growing up.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.