Through my years as a teacher and parent coach I have noticed that preteens and teens have the potential to revert back to toddler hood. These future adults tend to become ego centric, much like they were when they were toddlers. They seem to be unable/unwilling to think beyond themselves. This can be just a phase, but it can be an unpleasant one.
In an effort to thwart this reverting and at least offer my children an opportunity to think beyond themselves, I required both of my children to participate in some sort of community service when they entered middle school. We treated it much like enrolling in a sport:
Select. Commit. Participate.
They got to select what type of community service they would like to do. They committed to the volunteer work. And they participated on a scheduled basis.
My daughter chose to go once a week to an assisted living facility and help the residents play BINGO. She set up, cleaned up, and helped the residents however needed. She even knocked on doors and invited residents to come play BINGO. My son committed to collecting discarded bikes, repairing them, and then donating them to families in need. He set a goal of the number of bikes he would donate per month and actually kept a tally chart in his room.
True, my children were involved in these community service activities because I encouraged them in that direction, but by selecting the activities themselves they became more invested. It provided the opportunity to think beyond their own needs.
Providing an opportunity for preteens an teens to think beyond themselves (on a regular basis) might just be the encouragement they need to move beyond toddler hood.