Teen Issues and Boundaries: How Parents can Help

Teen issues and boundariesNo matter how well behaved your child might be, it’s safe to say that he or she is suffering from some typical teen issues. We can’t expect our kids to understand appropriate behavior on their own. Their brains are still developing, and they haven’t yet had enough life experiences to demonstrate the importance of healthy boundaries. It’s up to us to teach our kids how to behave appropriately by praising positive behavior and putting a stop to negative behavior.

What are Some Ways that Teens Test Their Boundaries?

As you probably already know, teenagers will test their limits in every way they can. They’ll drink, they’ll smoke, they’ll stay out past curfew and they’ll even try drugs simply to see how their parents react. Peer pressure also plays a huge role in these decisions, but most rebellious teens are resisting authority in some way. This is why it’s so important for parents to lay down the law when something inappropriate has taken place.

What Happens if You Don’t Provide Adequate Discipline for Crossing a Boundary?

Too many parents desire to be a friend to their teens, resulting in lax punishment and an unclear structure in the home. If you catch your kids drinking and allow them to continue in the interest of being a “cool parent,” you’ll be teaching that they are above the rules, which can result worsening teen issues as well as a rude awakening once they grow up and hit the work force.

If you reinforce one negative behavior, what’s to stop your teen from thinking the next opportunity for negative behavior is all right to engage in? You may not think allowing your teen to have a beer is a big deal, but you’ll regret that decision when you find out your teen thought it was also okay to try a hit of crystal meth. Even worse, your teen may end up an irresponsible adult who still lives at home. No parent wants that.

How can You Begin Teaching Healthy Boundaries?

1. Be Clear About the Rules

Establish clear rules that include things like an age-appropriate curfew and a complete ban on partaking in any mid-altering substances. Require your child to maintain a good grade point average and disciplinary record in order to earn privileges like time with friends or the freedom to date.

2. Be Clear About the Punishment for Breaking the Rules

Your child won’t need to test the boundaries if he or she already knows what the consequences will be.

3. Be Clear that You Will Enforce the Rules

A clear list of boundaries and punishments won’t do any good if you’re lazy about enforcing discipline. When your child makes a mistake, provide appropriate consequences and stick to your guns. It might be difficult if you’ve failed to discipline for teen issues in the past, but the sooner you begin, the sooner your teen will begin learning how things work in the real world.

Debra Beck

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