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Why teens and pre-teens need established boundaries

Getting through the teenage years can be the most challenging part of parenting. Overnight our sweet little angels have turned into opinionated young adults that know everything. No more bedtime stories or kisses before school. Suddenly, we have to knock on the bedroom door before we come in and hope they talk to us if they need to. It can be overwelming and often times parents just don’t know how to deal with the sudden changes in their child or what to do when they break the rules.

First and foremost, there must be rules. They can not be broken and if they are, there must be consequences. This presents a structure within the home that both parent and child need. This allows everyone involved to recognize what is expected of them and what will happen if the rules are not followed. Everyone understands their contribution to the family’s structure and must work to keep it intact. This doesn’t mean that everything will run smoothly all the time. Everyone makes mistakes and your teen will too, but this way you have a plan of action.

Consistency is also key in the correction of a teen’s behavior. Teenagers are very persuasive at times and want what they want without thinking about how it may effect them or others. Often times they tend to work the rules in their favor and by being consistent, you can make this more difficult for them. Always involve the other parent with decisions and keep communication open within the family. Talking to your teen about everyday issues and concerns can heighten their awareness and let them know you are on the same page as they are. That you understand what is going on in their life.

Teens are worried most about their social status. This is what they live for. If this is threatened, it can be devastating. Taking away privileges can be the most effective form of punishment available. Use this. Phone, computer, trips to their friend’s house. Take them. Be consistent. Don’t give in. This is your leverage and you must maintain control. There comes a time when you have to choose what it is you are. A friend or a parent. It would be great if we could be both all of the time but in truth, there comes a time when you have to be one or the other. Teens need a parent more than a friend sometimes. It may be a while until they understand that you were always both.

Teens also need support. They are at a very creative and experimental age. They are trying to find who they are and you can help them get there. They need the structure but they also need to know that you are there for them. If they are in a “bad” place, they need to know they can call you to stay good. They need to know you won’t judge them for what their friends do but will not tolerate the same behavior. Teens want acceptance and sometimes they get mixed up with the wrong people. They should know their liabilities and be aware of right and wrong. Consistency and communication can be key.