wikiHow to Be a Responsible Teenager

Three Methods:Being Safe and ResponsiblePlanning for Your FutureDeveloping Responsible Habits

Being responsible is very important, no matter what age you are. Responsibility may change with age and experience, but you will always need to be responsible for yourself and take ownership of your actions if you want to be an independent adult. Becoming more responsible starts in your teen years, which is why it's important to make informed, safe, and healthy decisions now. With responsibility, you'll earn greater freedom and independence while learning valuable life lessons that will last through adulthood.

Method 1
Being Safe and Responsible

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    Abstain from drugs and alcohol. At some point in your teenage years, you may encounter a situation in which you're offered drugs or alcohol. There are many reasons why teens may experiment with substances, whether peer pressure/wanting to fit in, attempting to escape your problems, or pure and simple curiosity. It's important to remember, though, that doing drugs and drinking can have many serious implications in your life, both short-term and long-term.
    • Doing drugs at any age or drinking while you're underage can land you in serious legal trouble.[1]
    • Drinking/doing drugs can cause you to lose your driver's license, get you grounded, or land you in community service. You may even get arrested. All of these consequences diminish the level of freedom you'll have.
    • Drinking or doing drugs can cause you to say and do things you wouldn't normally say/do, which can lead to hurt feelings and damaged relationships.
    • Drugs and alcohol can cause permanent health problems, especially in a young, developing mind and body. You can also develop a dependence or addiction on drugs/alcohol.[2]
    • Try to avoid spending time with people who drink or do drugs, and avoid parties where you know drugs or alcohol will be present.[3]
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    Make informed dating decisions. If you date someone, you will most likely develop strong feelings of attraction towards your partner. However, it's important to recognize the risks of teen sexuality, and make informed decisions to keep you and your partner safe.
    • Let your partner know if you are not ready to have sex, and make sure your partner respects your wishes.[4] It's best to delay sexual activity until you are both emotionally and physically prepared to have sex.[5]
    • Make sure your partner consents to having sex. Never try to pressure someone into having sex, and don't let anyone else try to pressure you.
    • If you do decide to have sex, make sure you use protection. Wear a condom from start to finish during vaginal, anal, and oral sex to reduce the chances of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.[6]
    • Be aware of STDs/STIs. On average, four out of every ten sexually-active teen girls (approximately 40%) have or have had a dangerous sexually transmitted disease/infection that can cause infertility or even death.[7]
    • The average rate of prevalence for all STDs/STIs among teens is one in four. That means, on average, one out of every four sexual partners you have will carry an STD.[8]
    • Pregnancy is another risk associated with sexual activity. In 2014 alone, 249,078 babies were born to teen girls between the ages of 15 and 19.[9]
    • Remember that abstinence is the only way to completely avoid the risks of STDs and pregnancy. If you're not ready for the emotional and physical repercussions of being sexually active, it's best to wait.
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    Avoid gangs and criminal activity. Gangs are groups of individuals who join together under the guise of protection. Gangs are almost invariably involved in acts of violence, drug sale/use, gun violations, and even homicide.[10]
    • Some teens join gangs because of peer pressure, while others glamorize the lifestyle. Still others see gangs as a way to feel "stronger" or more "connected."
    • Being in a gang will not keep you safe. If anything, gang activities will expose you to more illegal acts and violence.
    • Joining a gang can lead to legal problems, serious injury, or even death. Gangs are routinely assaulted and murdered by other rival gangs, and many gang members are arrested for a number of criminal violations.
    • It's best to avoid gangs altogether. Stay away from known gang territories and be aware of the clothing, colors, and symbols used by gangs so you are not mistaken for a gang member.[11]
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    Drive responsibly. Driving can give you a great deal of freedom, but with that freedom comes great responsibility. Driving a vehicle unsafely puts you and your passengers, as well as every other person on the road, in a great deal of danger. Reckless driving can cause accidents that lead to property damage, injury, lifelong disability, and even death. If you feel like you or someone you're with cannot drive safely for any reason, it's best to get out of the car and call a parent, trustworthy friend/relative, or a taxi for a safe ride home.
    • Distracted driving occurs when you perform any distracting activities while driving. This includes texting, using a cellphone, grooming yourself, adjusting the radio/CD player/MP3 player, or even talking to other passengers.
    • In 2013, distracted driving caused 3,154 deaths and 424,000 injuries in the United States alone.[12]
    • Having friends in the car can lead to distracted or reckless driving. The risk of a 16- or 17-year-old driver being involved in a fatal car crash doubles when carrying two adolescent passengers and quadruples when carrying three or more adolescent passengers.[13]
    • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs caused over 10,000 deaths in the United States in 2012, which averages out to one death every 51 minutes.[14] Drug/alcohol use for teens is always bad, but when paired with driving it is a deadly combination.
    • Drowsy driving (driving while you're excessively sleepy) is almost as dangerous as driving under the influence. If you feel tired, it's best to avoid driving altogether.[15]

Method 2
Planning for Your Future

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    Do well in school. You may find high school boring, frustrating, or even a waste of time, but how you do in high school can shape the rest of your life. If you are planning on going to college, you must do well in high school and earn high grades. Even if you're not planning on going to college, high school can teach you about responsibility, time management, and the importance of hard work - all lessons that apply to adult life outside of school.
    • Motivation is one of the biggest factors in school success rates, and the self-motivation you learn in high school will be important as you enter the adult world.[16]
    • Think of high school as your job. If your parents stopped going to work or didn't do what their bosses expected, they would not be able to keep that job for very long - and if you don't learn motivation and discipline, you may struggle with employment as well.
    • Build yourself a schedule and stick to that schedule. Make time for homework, studying, and reviewing your notes from class every day before you watch TV or go out with friends.
    • Study without distractions. Turn off the TV, music, and cell phone so you can concentrate without interference.
    • Use flash cards and mnemonic devices to help you memorize names, dates, terms, and definitions.
    • Take short breaks when you're studying and reward yourself when you've finished your work for the night.
    • Make sure you get enough sleep each night, especially the night before a test.[17]
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    Try to get a job. Working a part-time job while you're in school can help teach you a lot about responsibility and time management. It can also give you some extra cash, whether you're saving up for college, saving for a car, or just want greater independence. However, it's important to balance your school and work lives so that your grades do not suffer.
    • Remember to wear appropriate clothing to your interview and your place of business (once you're hired). Follow the dress code, if there is one, and if not make sure you do not wear ripped clothing or shirts with inappropriate messages/images.[18]
    • Consider getting a job or internship in something you're interested in. It may not be as easy to get as a fast food job, but you'll learn a lot about yourself and have the chance to pursue something you're passionate about.[19]
    • Try to get hands-on training in a technical field, such as cosmetology, automotive technology, and even health care.[20]
    • Find internships and part-time jobs by searching online, or talk to career counselors and guidance counselors at your school.
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    Spend money responsibly. Whether the money you earn comes from doing chores for your parents or working a part-time job, it's important to learn responsible spending/saving habits early on in life. Spending responsibly and starting a savings account in your teenage years can help prepare you for a more stable and secure adulthood.
    • Be a smart shopper by comparing prices and waiting for items to go on sale.
    • Try not to buy needless junk. If you can't justify why you want something other than "it would be cool to have," you can probably go without it.
    • Ask your parents about how to spend money more wisely, and talk to a parent or a financial institution (like a bank or credit union) about starting your own checking or savings account.[21]
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    Consider furthering your education. Many teenagers graduate high school and enter the workforce. It makes sense to some because of the potential to start making money right away. However, in the long run, you'll be able to make more money and work a job you feel passionate about if you get some type of college education.
    • The benefits of a college education outweigh the costs. You may need to take out a loan, but you will earn more after college and have access to jobs you wouldn't get without a degree.[22]
    • College graduates tend to be significantly more satisfied with their jobs. They also tend to find and keep jobs more easily than their peers who never graduated from college.[23]
    • Ultimately, your parents cannot decide whether or not you will go to college. But when they tell you how important a college education is, they are probably speaking from experience.

Method 3
Developing Responsible Habits

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    Understand responsibility. Responsibility is not something that can be given to you by others. You must live responsibly if you expect any kind of freedom or independence. A big part of responsibility is earning the trust of others, so being honest and morally upstanding is important if you hope to be a responsible teenager/adult.[24]
    • Figure out what motivates your desire to be responsible. Is it your parents' respect and approval, your peers' respect, or your own desire to better yourself?
    • Motivation has to come from within you. As much as other people can inspire you to take action and live a more responsible life, you ultimately have to be self-motivated enough to create your own opportunities and pursue your own interests.
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    Find positive, responsible role models. Experts on adolescent development have found that having a good, positive role model from an early age can help teenagers be more responsible as adolescents and adults. Even if you go through a rebellious phase, you're less likely to make bad decisions if you have a strong role model in your life.[25]
    • For some people, parents are the ultimate role model. Others may choose to look outside the family circle for a positive role model.
    • Characteristics to look for in a good role model are strong work ethic, creativity, capacity for independent thinking, and strong sense of morality.[26]
    • Remember that even a role model makes mistakes. No one is perfect, so don't expect absolute perfection from your role model.
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    Be responsible for your actions. As much as your parents and role models can try to influence you, you are ultimately the one responsible for your own actions. No one can control what you do or don't do, which means you are responsible for your successes and your failures.[27]
    • Take responsibility when you've done something wrong, and try to learn from that experience so you do not repeat your actions in the future.
    • Try to think about the repercussions of your actions before you make a decision to act in the first place. Thinking about the most likely outcome may help you avoid falling into bad behavior.
    • Always show respect and appreciation towards others. Making responsible choices includes learning to treat others with the kind of respect you expect for yourself.


  • Before you do something, ask yourself whether it would be a good choice and a responsible decision.
  • Remember that responsibility is the only way you'll earn freedom and independence.


  • Don't let peer pressure influence you to do things you don't want to do.
  • Remember that irresponsible choices, like drinking, doing drugs, or driving recklessly, can affect your life in permanent ways. You could be disqualified from getting financial aid in college or getting certain jobs, and you may face serious health problems, legal repercussions, permanent disability, or even death.

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Categories: Improving Relations with Parents | Money Management for Young People