How to Teach Your Tween to be Responsible


Why would you want to teach your tween to be responsible? I mean if nothing else, tweens are known for their sense of responsibility.

Similarly, lions are known for their ability to control their desire to maul and eat delicious lone zebras at the watering hole.

You’re lucky you found this post because I am incredibly knowledgeable about tweens in that I had two and I once was one.

I see you there, the veins popping out of your forehead like angry purple snakes. I get your frustration. Tweens are pretty much the worst, bless their little hearts.

You are straight up sick and tired of your kid calling from school because they forgot their homework/lunch/pants and expecting you to deliver said homework/lunch/pants at once.

The same kid won’t pick up her room without being threatened in ways prisoners of war aren’t even threatened.

Your tween believes you to be a wealthy she-devil who is the dumbest human person ever to walk this earth. She doesn’t mind telling you, either.

Why won’t you give her the freaking $50 for makeup she’s not allowed to wear? Girls with moms who aren’t monsters let their daughters wear fake eyelashes to school.

Gawd, mom!

How to teach your tween to be responsible.

Science actually has a lot to say about what’s happening with your tween and why they aren’t as responsible, or nice, or respectful as you would like them to be.

You can place the blame squarely on a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex.

It makes up more than 10% of the human brain and it’s responsible for our ability to be rational.

If you are over the age of 25, yours is fully formed and (hopefully) functioning correctly. You use it to make decisions and to consider and understand the long-term consequences.

It’s what prevents you from climbing a water tower with a high powered water gun and screaming COME AT ME, BITCHES, every time you get upset.

Instead of the prefrontal cortex, tweens use the amygdala to process decision-making. It’s the part of our brain that controls emotions.

Until they are about 25, the two parts of the brains haven’t yet developed a connection.

It’s for those reasons you tween is emotional and irresponsible and all up in their feelings.

Screaming at your kid demanding to know why they did what they did will often be met with, “I don’t know.”

In a related story, they answer you that way because they probably really don’t know. They make decisions based on their feelings. (That’s how I make decisions about cake.)

So how do you teach your tween responsibility when their brains aren’t developed in the way your adult brain is?

Teach your tween by being a good example.

You exhibit calm, measured, thoughtful behaviors so they can see what that looks like.

When they are emotional and irresponsible and forgetful, remember the incredible and intricate machine right behind their forehead that is running the show.

Lest you forget, that same machine ran your life when you were their age. (Even though you believe you were perfect and never talked back and always picked up your dirty clothes.)

Be patient when you can, and when you can’t, use your own prefrontal cortex to figure out how to best handle the problem at hand.

Talk with them about their struggle to remember their homework/lunch/pants. Explain why you don’t want them to wear false eyelashes to school.

Ask what you can do to help them. Don’t freak out when they lash out, cry, or otherwise behave like a total jackhole.

Don’t yell. Don’t shame them. It’s biology and, dear frustrated parent, biology will win every time. Your angry, irresponsible kiddo is no exception.

If you’ve read to the end of this post you may be disappointed I didn’t provide a list of quick tips to solve the whole problem.


And anyway, if I did have all those answers I wouldn’t drop them in a blog post.

I’d write a bestselling book, get my own Hulu show, and quite possibly receive some sort of international award.

I’ve always wanted an international award. I hope it comes with a sash and a crown.

Good luck, mom (and/or dad). Hang in there. Before you’re ready your house will be too quiet, and your tween will be an adult dealing with their own little jackholes.

Never forget that.


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