First and foremost, you should be a parent to your child. As your child becomes a teenager, it can become harder to maintain the right balance of authority. Here’s how to properly set boundaries for your teenager.
Set rules and stick to them.
Communicate to your teen what your rules are. If you tell them they have to be home by 10 at night, enforce that rule. As they head out for the evening. remind them of the rule so they can’t say that they “forgot” or “lost track of time.” A way to keep them in check in a subtle way is to send them a text to their phone around 9:30 reminding them that they need to be home by 10. This is a great way to keep the communication open as they can then respond with where they are and acknowledge that they understand the rule. If they break the rule, take away privileges so they understand it’s not okay to break rules.
Reward good behavior.
If your child hasn’t broken any rules and they are getting good grades in school, reward them now and then. Tell them why you are rewarding them so they continue their good behavior. A good example for a reward might be to give them an extra 30 minutes on their curfew. Try not to tell them of the reward before they head out as they might take advantage of it. When you are sending them the reminder, text at 9:30 that would be a good time to say that they can stay out until 10:30. They will be much more appreciative of the reward, because it is coming to them unexpectedly. Again, make sure you tell them why you are allowing this.
Don’t make your teen afraid of you, but don’t be too soft either.
Sometimes teens may get into dangerous situations but are too scared to ask for help because of potential consequences that they may face from their parents. You might want to have a “no questions asked” rule as some parents do. This rule is kind of like a “get out of jail free” card where the teen can call the parent and get picked up from somewhere with no questions asked by the parent. This might be controversial to some, but for others it might just truly save a teen from harm. If you do have this rule, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. If your teen tries to do it more than once in a short period of time, you might not be showing that you truly have authority. Parents need to find the right balance between showing authority and being soft. Sometimes it can take a couple of situations to find the balance.
Have open communication with other parents.
The best way to monitor your teen away from your home is to have open communication with their friends’ parents. You may want to exchange numbers with other parents and don’t be afraid to ask what kind of rules that they have for their own children. This would be a great time to compare parenting techniques and to also see what your teen is exposed to at other houses.
Make them earn the things that they want.
It’s not uncommon to see teenagers, and even preteens, with cell phones. It’s great for parents when teens have cell phones because they can get in contact with their child instantly. The drawback is that it can be a costly bill and teens can abuse the privilege of having one. First and foremost there should be rules when it comes to giving your child a cell phone. You may have a rule that at any given time you are allowed to look through their phone so they don’t engage in any illegal activity, such as sending explicit texts. You also want to monitor their usage so you don’t get an unexpected high bill.
Explain to them that having a cell phone or car is a privilege and not a right. Make them earn the things that they want. You can do this by several different ways. One way is to make them pay to have these things. Another way is to make them work around the house and maintain good grades in exchange of having these things. One practice for truly showing your teen that they need to work for what they are given is to buy them a pay-as-you-go phone that will only work if they buy “time” for it. This will show them that if they want to communicate with their friends through this way that they need to work for it. You can even reward them with “time” for their pay-as-you-go-phone when they get good grades, follow rules, or do chores. They will be much more appreciative and use their things responsibly when they see that they have to work to earn them.