It truly seems like overnight that your child grows from a small child to a taller-than-you teenager. They go from wanting the latest toy to borrowing your clothes and then riding in cars with friends. The transition goes so quickly that all of a sudden these young adults seemed to have miraculously appeared in your space, taking up more room. You may often marvel ‘where did they come from?’ Because they look, sound and appear grown up, it’s easy to assume that they know more than they do. But as my own teens have started navigating life with a bit more freedom outside of our family surroundings, I have realized that there are some things they just don’t know.
Who knew that teaching our kids phone etiquette would be necessary in 2016? The reality is that most kids don’t spend any time talking on the phone, and certainly do not have much experience talking to strangers. Teaching them simple things like how to order a pizza or how to take a message are things that they will soon come across as they start spending more time out in the world. There have been many times when I have made a phone call to a business and the young person on the other line clearly didn’t have a lot of experience taking calls – something that you would assume most teenagers would already know. Teach them how to pleasantly acknowledge the caller, and always to use manners when speaking to adults.
It’s Not Always Text Messages
Although this generation grew up communicating via text messages, most teenagers don’t realize that sending a text message is not the preferred method of communication in all instances. On a few occasions, my kids have learned the hard way that the text message they sent to their teacher or manager at work wasn’t received. While texting is becoming more common in the workplace, in most cases, I would suggest to them that an email or phone call is a better choice.
My generation spent a lot more time at home alone or making our way around town to activities and as a result, developed problem-solving skills by default. I’ve recently realized that my kids, and many of my friend’s kids, haven’t had nearly as many opportunities to solve problems on their own. It can be small things like how to light a gas stove when they are home alone or a larger problem like what to do when the toilet is overflowing when you are babysitting. As much as I want to make things easy for them so that they can concentrate on being a kid, micro-managing them isn’t doing them any favours either.
Giving our teens the space to develop problem-solving skills is going to help them as they move on into adulthood–which will be happening before you know it. I clearly remember being home alone as a middle schooler and accidently setting a hot pot down on a soft surface and burning it. I cried profusely because I felt terrible about it. The truth is that I just didn’t know better but the incident taught me that, even though it was unfortunate, the world didn’t end. Offering our own kids opportunities to develop into well-functioning young adults can mean that there will inevitably be missteps along the way.
To quote Maya Angelou; ‘I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.’