When it comes to raising children, no period can be a more rewarding and simultaneously frustrating period than the teenage years. During this period teenagers seek to branch out on their own more and more and explore the surrounding world. One of a parent’s most crucial jobs during this time is to set clear but flexible boundaries to help your teen explore and to prevent them from exploring too quickly. With that in mind, below are a few important tips for setting clear boundaries for teenagers.
Set Clear Boundaries Upfront
If your teenager doesn’t understand clearly what your expectations and rules are upfront then it is reasonable to expect them to react negatively to breaking a rule they did not know existed. While you do absolutely want to be an authority figure, you don’t want to come of as an authoritarian figure to your teenager. By having upfront conversations with your teen that clearly outline your expectations of their behavior you will find that you will face far less objections from your teen when it comes time to enforce the rules. Having conversations with your teen about boundaries should be a somewhat regular occurrence.
If your teenager objects to a particular boundary that you would like to impose and presents a logical, well reasoned counter argument then be willing to allow some leeway. If it is a situation you are particularly adamant about not giving into, clearly outline why you are so adamant about the issue and try to help your teen understand. One of the most frustrating things for a teenager can be to have rules enforced upon them that they don’t understand, you will find that by having these conversations with your teen, even if they still disagree with your decision in the end, they will be much more willing to comply.
Shy Away From Age Based Boundaries
While it is often the easiest path to make clear age based boundaries upfront with your teenager, this is often one of the worst approaches that you can take. For example, setting boundaries like ‘no dating until you’re 16’ should be avoided. By the time they are a teenager, your child will start to develop personalty traits that along with a whole slew of other things, will shade the individual way they see the world. These differences also mean that each individual teenager develops and hits certain milestones at different times than their peers, or maybe even your expectations. Some teens need more guidance than others and so often require a more strict set of boundaries enforced for a longer period of time than a teenager that is fulfilling all expectations and seeking to explore further.
Do Not Overly Punish Failures
At some point in time your teenager absolutely will test the boundaries a little too far and knowingly break a rule or overstep an enforced boundary. When this happens, have a frank conversation with your teenager to reenforce why it is important that they follow the particular rule or boundary in place. If the action resulted in external consequences, such as receiving on campus detention from their school, if the punishment is already reasonable to enforce the consequence then additional punishment is probably not necessary. If you have to enforce a consequence, never tie it to money or cutting of allowance, economics should be completely separate from punishment.