Empowering your teenage children to have independence

As children grow and come into their teenage years, the process of setting boundaries evolves. This includes a delicate balance between giving them enough guidance and boundaries to ensure they learn to make healthy choices, and giving the the freedom to be independent and ‘have-a-go’. Remember to tell your children you trust them, this is a powerful motivator for your kids to prove this is true.

Top tips for establishing boundaries and supporting independence in teenagers

  • Be clear and consistent. Teenagers gain strength and self-respect from parents who are clear and consistent in their expectations and willing to discuss reasons for their decision. 
  • Praise their efforts. When your teenager displays good self-management skills let them know you have noticed and are proud of them. 
  • Allow competent teenagers to take responsibility when you see them handling situations well.
  • Step in if you need to. You can show respect for your teenager’s feelings and opinions but should reserve the right to limit some of their actions if you feel they may be at risk.   

As with all learning, some behavioural, emotional and social “mistakes” will be inevitable and sometimes you may need to step in and help them to ensure their safety and wellbeing. It’s important they know that even though you’re supporting their efforts to ‘take the reins’ themselves, you are there to back them up if needed! 

Mondays with Fathering Project founder Dr. Bruce Robinson
We want to foster connection, sharing, and collaborating in this time of isolation and need. The Fathering Channel is an online community hub and a source of research-based advice, support, and information. Tune in every Monday for Bruce’s weekly video – packed with fathering advice and tips.
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