Teens thrive when the feel they are respected and that their contributions are appreciated.
In our culture, teenagers are in limbo and consquently are often bored, listless and angry. They are no longer children but not quite adults, either.
Historically speaking, simpler cultures had fewer problems with teenagers than modern society does because young people took their place as adults in their mid to late teens. Our teenagers are expected to be rebelious and generally a pain in the neck. In our experience, teens seem to thrive when adults give them an opportunity to contribute to the family or to learn, practical life skills. Teenagers want to equip themselves for the adult world by learning how to fix cars, cook, clean, organize a home or take care of finances These skills are often taught to teens who fail in academic realms but university bound kids also relish the opportunity to grow up.The point is that teens behaviour improves if we don't treat them like misbehaving children but as people about to step into adult roles.
As my children matured, they developed their own talents and preferences about how they wanted to help our family function smoothly. Because our house was always hectic, I depended on all the kids to pitch in and they understood that their contributions were important. This was great for their sense of self-worth.
Melissa could dive into a messy bedroom with a younger sibling and organize their room (she uses this talent to organize and manage people in a very well-paying job). Mara made pastry flakier than me at 11 years old. (she is a Red Seal chef who also earned her B.A.). Rachel always loved to mind the babies (she is an early childhood educator). Emily, from the time she was two, wanted to put outfits together and she helped the little ones get dressed and sorted through their wardrobe. Today she puts her mother together! Katie is very artistic and patient, she did crafts with Anthony and Lucy. The boys are very handy today because they helped Michael fix cars, renovate and repair anything and everything.
University bound kids don't often get a chance to learn any of the trades in high school. Our education system has gotten rid of Shop and Home EC. I think it is time to reconsider this decision. Most young adults are clueless about how to run a household, cook or fix anything. Often they live with Mummy and Daddy till they are in their late twenties, prolonging their "teen" years as they play video-games, watch T.V. and send messages on their iPhones.
Maria Montessori understood the concepts in this article and set up a highschool on a farm to address this very problem. Her teenage students ran all aspects of a farm and household as well as studied academic subjects. Just as she let little children hammer nails, sweep or pour hot tea into china cups, Maria believed that practical life skills were as important as intellectual studies in forming well-rounded, mature, intelligent adults.