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When you have a baby, your whole world changes. It starts with a lack of sleep, diaper changes, and of course, the most selfless kind of love there is. You want to do everything for this little human—from bathing them to feeding them and even wiping their you know what.
But at some point, all of that stops. Okay, well some of that stops. We at least really hope you’re not wiping their you know what when they’re a teenager!
While that might seem obvious, there are some less-obvious things that some parents have a hard time quitting, even after their child turns 13 (the unofficial beginning of adolescence).
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to help them out in life, there’s a point where certain basic day-to-day things need to stop. Unless you want them to grow up and not know how to do these things without the help, experts say to get into the habit of stopping them now.
So how do you know what kids should be able to do on their own when they’re a teen? Here are the things you should probably stop doing:
1. Waking them up
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How often are you gently rubbing your tired teen’s shoulder, asking them to get out of bed and get ready fro school? This may seem harmless, but if they’re in the habit of waking up to the parent-alarm clock instead of a regular one, they’re going to face difficulties later in life when they have to start using one. If they have a phone, they can set their own alarm!
2. Their laundry
Speaking of phones, if they can use an iPhone, they can use a washing machine (it might even have less buttons!). If you want to start them small, start them just by folding the clean items and putting them away. That might make them even more eager to learn how to do the whole job.
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We’re not advocating to stop bothering with meals altogether, but throwing together breakfast or lunch is something a 13-year-old should be able to do on their own. “Have confidence that they could make a breakfast for themselves, that they could make a lunch, says Julie Lythcott-Haims, the author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid For Success.
4. Talking to teachers for them
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If they’re having an issue in school, it’s natural to want to step in. And while there’s a time and place for that, if it’s some kind of daily issue such as not turning in their homework, your teen needs to tackle it on their own to prepare them for much bigger discussions when they’re an adult.
5. Coming to the rescue
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We’re talking in terms of when they forget something that they’d be able to survive without. Of course, if they forgot their asthma inhaler, yes, please deliver that to them. But if they forgot their sports uniform or a textbook, you shouldn’t have to drop everything to save them. In fact, they might even learn to not forget these things the less times you come to the rescue!
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You’re not the maid, and while a 13-year-old isn’t expected to clean an entire house, they should certainly be helping out with daily household chores, be it vacuuming or dusting. “It’s a wonderful way to delegate responsibility and keep the household moving forward,” says Stephanie O’Leary, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and author of Parenting in the Real World.
7. Micromanaging their self-care tasks
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“By the time your kid is in high school, they really ought to be able to do everything related to their own care, if they had to,” Lythcott-Haims said. This includes making their bed, draining the water after their shower—all those “little” things you catch yourself doing, ask yourself, “Should a 13-year-old know how to do this?” Chances are, if you’re asking, they can.
What seemingly “small” thing are you doing for your teen that maybe you should back off from?