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Setting Deadlines for Teens

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A study conducted by Dr. Laurence Steinberg of Temple University revealed that a higher incidence of anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and alcohol abuse was found in children of overindulgent families than in children from homes in which parents set consistent boundaries and responsibilities. Taking on household responsibilities really is good for children!

Chores need deadlines—relatively tight deadlines for daily chores, and more lenient deadlines for less frequent chores. On evenings when everyone has eaten dinner together (perhaps at 7 P.M.), family members should know that dinner dishes must be done by 8 P.M. (and you can always point out that with a chore such as kitchen clean-up, the sooner they do it the less difficult it is). Laundry should be folded shortly after the dryer stops to reduce wrinkling. If your teen is in the middle of something at that point, ask him when he can do the folding (in 15 minutes? in 30 minutes?) and set the kitchen timer to remind him.

An advantage to setting a loose deadline for weekly chores (such as wiping down the porch furniture before Friday at 6 P.M.) is that your teen can feel more freedom as to when the chore is done and will learn a different type of responsibility. If he does it Thursday, then Friday afternoon he can get the weekend off to an early start with his friends.

If you're at work in the afternoon when your teen arrives home, you've got a perfect opportunity to delegate specific chores with a set deadline. Your child can start dinner or organize the house for you in the afternoon, at her leisure—so long as it's done before you get home. Leave a checklist for each afternoon, detailing what dinner is planned and what must be done ahead of time.

As schedules change, you'll need to conduct a chore review so that family members still have an assignment they can maintain with their new schedule.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Parenting a Teenager © 1996 by Kate Kelly. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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