I had kept my nephews for a substantial amount of time during a rough patch in their parent’s lives. Twin boys with a love of skateboarding and hard rock, you’d think it would have been a difficult transition for them, but it went pretty smoothly.
The boys had always been pretty well-behaved, and I loved spending time with them. But they were in their early teens. Hormones and rapidly maturing bodies, along with a growing need for independence, can wreak havoc on a family. I didn’t have to deal with much drama though, because the boys and I quickly came to an understanding we could all be happy with.
Setting the Rules
One of the first conversations we had when they arrived at my place was about the rules I expected them to follow. Then I really blew their minds and asked them to help me set up rules that would be fair to all of us.
Teenagers are much more likely to follow rules if they understand why there are rules, and have a say in the creation of them.
We talked about their responsibilities around the home; what was expected of them as far as helping with household chores, when their free time was, where they were allowed to go and at what times, and when they were supposed to be home.
When we’d finished, both boys understood why I needed to set rules and boundaries for them- and knew what the consequences would be for not following the rules. Of course, there were a few times when they felt like they had to test those boundaries, and we dealt with those as they came.
But it wasn’t difficult for them to adapt, and their years in my care were good times, for them and me.
Things to Keep in Mind
There are a few things to keep in mind when setting boundaries for teens, such as:
- Don’t give money as a reward, or promise gifts for good behavior. The kids may behave, but they will be doing it for the wrong reasons, and won’t learn why they should obey the rules.
- Once you decide on rules and punishments, stick by them. You won’t look like a bad person to he kids; remember, they helped you decide on the rules and consequences. Don’t get mad at them, just tell them “You knew the rule, and understood what would happen if you disobeyed.” Be firm, not harsh.
- Watch their behavior. The way they act can change due to growth, hormones, and other factors. Modify rules as needed to help keep your teens on the right path.
- Be careful when setting curfews. Be sure your teens understand when they need to be home and why, and be firm. But remember to be fair, there may be an occasion or two where it’s ok to let them stay out a little later. Again, letting them help in the making of the rules will make them less apt to disobey them and help them to feel more like responsible young adults.
Setting rules for your teens can be a learning experience for you both; Your teens will learn what it means to be independent and what is expected of them, and you will learn how rewarding it is to watch your child grow into a responsible and trustworthy adult.