Help Your Teenager Get Organised

by Annie

goalsHow do you get your teenager to buy into being organised?

If you have a teenager at home you’ll know deciding things for themselves is very important to them. Just telling them doesn’t work anymore, does it?

Here’s a way for them to discover that getting organised, setting goals and planning time are vital skills if they want to have choices when they leave school.

I’ve used this technique successfully, both at home with my own teenager and at school with teenage students.

Start a discussion that goes like this: Suppose you were told in 12 months time to the exact day, you had to attend a meeting at 5:00 p.m. at a location in a town 100 kilometers away called Goals. You were given a car and knew how to drive. You were told that it was vitally important that you arrived to the meeting on time because at the meeting, you had the opportunity to sign up for things you wanted to do for the rest of your life. If you missed the meeting, you would have to settle for the things the other kids didn’t want.

Kids from all over would be at the meeting. Only those who were on time would be able to have some choice. It wasn’t that you were guaranteed to have all your choices honoured, it was just that if you arrived late or missed the meeting, then your future would be less positive.

Now for the next 11 plus months or so, you thought about that meeting and you knew you’d better find out where it was and what roads to take to get to the town of Goals. You knew others had already planned out their schedule and route.

On the morning of the meeting, you awoke with a start knowing that you hadn’t read the map yet to see where you needed to be and you didn’t know if you had enough time to get there. You were panicking as you jumped into your car and headed in the general direction of Goals. As time ticked by, you nervously looked for signs of Goals. Driving at the outer edge of the speed limit, you started to feel faint when, at 4:45 p.m., the town of Goals appeared ahead.

Ask your teenager whether they think the person in the car will make it to the meeting on time? Do  they think  that if he’s late, he’ll be allowed to participate in the meeting? Would they like to be that person?

And then, what would you have done that they didn’t do (locate Goals on the map, figure out how to get there, and schedule enough time to get there)?

In this way your teenager may discover for themselves the value of being organised by setting goals and planning time.

This technique was shared with me  by Dr Michael Bernard, Professor, College of Education, California State University. Photo credit: Eamon Curry at Flickr

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