21 Teach responsibility Middle schoolers need to understand that with increased independence comes increased responsibility. These nine tips will help you teach your child how to act responsibly. 1. Base the amount of freedom your child is giv- en on how responsibly your child acts. Smart parents give their children a little more free- dom each year. 2. Talk to your child about the importance of making good choices and de- cisions. Also, help your child figure out what to do in specific situations. For example, students should know what they’re going to say and do before they’re offered a cigarette. 3. Tell your child that he/she can always use you as an excuse, or as a way to get out of a difficult situation. For example, “I just got a call from my mom and I have to get home” or “My parents always find out when I do something wrong, and they’d lock me away forever if...” 4. Make sure that your child knows basic social behaviors (e.g., use a firm handshake, make eye contact, write thank you notes). 5. Teach financial responsibility by giving your child an allowance and set- ting up a savings account. 6. Teach your child how to problem solve. Tara wanted to go to a friend’s party, but her parents were reluctant to let her go. Their response to her request was,“Tara, we don’t know who will be there, or what kind of supervision there will be.With what we know, we just don’t feel that letting you go would be the right decision.” Tara called her friend’s parents and asked them to tell her mother and father that the party would be supervised. Tara’s parents were reassured, Tara felt good about being a part of the decision-making process—and she got to go to the party.