It’s 9:00. Your teen looks up from the computer. “Oh, I forgot,” he says. “I have a science project due tomorrow.”

Do you:

  1. Start making a list of what he needs? Drive to the all-night drug store to buy supplies? Stay up all night typing his report?
  2. Wish him well and go to bed?

If you answered A, you’ve forgotten who owns the problem. It was your teen’s decision to put off the project. He should figure out how to get it done.

It’s hard to watch your teen make a mistake. But you have to let him own the problem he created. If you rush in to fix everything, you’ll never let him learn the skills that he’ll need when he leaves home.

Of course, there are times when parents have to step in. If your teen is about to do something that puts him or anyone else in danger, then you must act.

But a late project is not the end of the world. And the low grade your teen is sure to earn may help him learn to start a little earlier next time.

Not owning the problem doesn’t always mean ignoring it. If your teen is arguing with a friend, lend an ear. If he’s struggling with math, remind him he’s figured out tough problems before.

The next time your teen has a problem, ask, “Who owns this?” Only by letting your teen own his problem do you give him the power to solve it.

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