Responsible decision-making is the ability to make choices that are good for you and for others. It is also taking into account your wishes and the wishes of others. The ability to understand yourself, your actions, how your actions affect others, and what is socially acceptable all go into the responsible decision-making process. Throughout high school, your teen will become more and more independent until they are ready to leave your household. By continuing to support your teen and allowing them more responsibility and room to make their own decisions, you can put them on a path to success after high school.
The high school years are a time of great personal development as teens are further developing their identities, preparing for adulthood, and gaining more independence. Encouraging your teen’s social and emotional development is still important at this age, as these skills can be developed throughout life. While your teen is becoming more independent, it is important to remember that you are still needed. Reminding your teen that you care can go a long way in keeping them on track and planning for the future.
Your high-schooler should be able to identify legal issues related to substance use, like drunk driving.
Your high-schooler should be able to understand the impact of their choices on others. For example, they should know how picking on a classmate or friend will hurt that classmate.
Your teen should also be able to realize that what is right might not always be popular. For example, they may want to make friends with a transfer student while their peers decide to use the new kid as a target for bullying. If your child chooses to befriend the student anyway, they're showing that they are capable of making responsible decisions. Of course, your teen is still learning and growing. Be prepared for them to make great choices one day and awful ones the next as they continue to develop this skill.
Keep in mind that all adolescents have different social and emotional tendencies and behaviors and develop at different rates. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on the five sets of competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). If you have concerns about your adolescent’s development, please contact your healthcare provider, his teacher, or his school counselor.
Learn more about how to support your teen with our 12th-grade decision-making tips page.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Maurice Elias, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab; Jennifer Miller, Author, Confident Parents, Confident Kids; and Thomas Hoerr, Emeritus Head of School, New City School.