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Parenting Teens: Establishing Healthy Boundaries.

Updated on March 2, 2013
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Keeping Teens Healthy by Setting Boundaries.

It is a good idea to involve your teen when establishing boundaries. Ask them what they think would be reasonable, and ensure that you are willing to listen to their suggestions, and to give way on some things. Part of setting boundaries for teenagers is helping them to learn how to establish their own boundaries, later in life.

They will also be more likely to respect the boundaries, feel respected, and respect you if they understand the reasons behind the boundaries. You can revisit the boundaries from time to time with them as they age and show increasing independence.

By following these few simple guidelines, you can help to ensure that your teen will be less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, and/or unprotected sex. Knowing where your teens are, who they are with, and setting boundaries for their behavior, are important parts of helping your teen stay healthy.

Know where your teens are at all times. Do not allow them to spend too much unsupervised time with other teens. As much as possible, try to have an adult at home when teens are there; this could be a parent, a trusted neighbor, or another family member. Teens are more likely to take part in risky behavior when they are alone with their friends.

Get to know your teen’s friends. If your teen makes a new friend, encourage them to spend time in your home, until you know them better.

Take the time to talk with your teen and their friends. They will be more open to it than you think. I have curled up on the couch with my daughter, and her friends many times and discussed boys, relationships, alcohol, smoking and parties. Let them lead the conversation and reserve your judgments. It is a wonderful way to connect with your teen and their friends; it will also give you a very good idea, as to how your child’s friends think, and what they value.

Support your teen by encouraging them to spend time with friends who are a good influence on them. Encourage them to have a number of friends that share similar interests to them.

Get to know the parents of your teen’s friends, and stay in touch with them. Check with them, if your teen tells you that they are sleeping over, or getting a lift with their friend’s parents. I know it appears that you do not trust your teen by checking up on them, but in this day and age it is vitally important to ensure that your child is going to be where they say they are. You can do this in a subtle way, without causing offense, by calling the parent to thank them for hosting or lifting your child.

When your teen goes to a party, make sure there will be an adult there.If necessary call the parents of the teen who is having the party, to ensure that they will be home and that they have the same rules that you do.

If you are hosting a party, keep alcohol and tobacco out. It is also important that you stay home during the party and make sure that only invited guests are allowed in. You can also ask guests to leave bags and jackets in a safe place when entering the party, to help prevent guests from bringing in alcohol and other drugs. Make it clear to your child that should anyone be caught with alcohol on them, their parents will be called immediately in order to come and collect them.

Insist on general good manners. Manners are extremely important in our world and our teens should know that they must show respect to all living creatures, by watching their tone of voice, language choice and actions.

It is important that you set clear curfews. It sends the message that you care about them and their wellbeing. You can discuss with your teen what they think an appropriate curfew is. By listening to them and allowing them to negotiate with you, it shows that you respect them and understand that they are increasingly responsible for themselves. But the final decision does lie with you as the parent. You should also set the precedence that you expect a phone call or text if they’re going to be late, due to an emergency.When setting a curfew their age must be taken into account.

Socialising on school nights. As a teacher, I would advise discouraging your teen from socializing on school nights. It is important for them to stay focused on school, to do their homework and get plenty of sleep. Socializing on school nights can make this difficult.

Encourage your teen to get involved in co-curricular activities, like afterschool clubs or sports. Not only do extra curricular activities keep your child from getting bored, and up to mischief, they also help to instill skills such as team work, following rules, and discipline.

Keep track of your teen online. It’s important to set clear expectations about Internet, cell phone use, and online communication. Talk to your teen about how they can spend time safely online. Even after all the education, and stories that circulate the media (even movies have been made on the topic), teens are still falling prey to Internet predators. Consistently talk to your teen about the dangers of opening up to a stranger online. Make sure they understand that even supplying a stranger with small details like what school they go to, or what mall they enjoy hanging out in, is dangerous. Remind your teen that anyone can be anyone on the net. In other words that cute, sporty 17-year-old has a good chance of being a balding, overweight 40-year-old. It is a good idea to activate one of the parental controls available, they not only stop your teen from accessing certain sites; they also give you a list of Internet sites that your child has visited. To safeguard my daughter, she has given me all her passwords of social networking sites that she is a member of. I have guaranteed her that I will never invade her privacy, but in case anything happens to her, I can access these sites to see whom she has been making contact with.

Once you have established clear expectations with your teen, check in regularly to be sure those expectations are met, and also to determine if it is appropriate to relax, tighten or discard certain rules.

Give your teen consistent positive feedback. Teenagers are going through a difficult phase of discovering who they are as people, and there is often a big drop in their self-confidence during this period. You can help by reinforcing the positives to remind your teen of their strengths and good qualities. Tell them you love them as often as you can. Teens are never too big or old for a hug. Be available.It is important that you make sure your teen knows that you are there for them at all times and how to contact you at any time.

Lead by example. Demonstrating acceptable behaviour is sometimes more important than simply telling them what to do. Your teen is not readily going to accept the, “Do as I say, not as I do” argument. You need to show that you are also able to live within reasonable boundaries, and that you are willing to consider the effects of your conduct on other people.

When your teen behaves responsibly, you can loosen the reins a little and grant more freedom. It gives them the message that you acknowledge that they are growing up and that you trust them with a little more independence.

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    • Janellegems profile image

      Janellegems 3 years ago from United States

      These are all great ways to establish boundaries with teens. I definitely agree that more parents need to talk specifically with their teens about the dangers online and instill safety measures.