As children grow and come into their teenage years, the process of setting boundaries evolves.
Parenting a teenager requires a delicate balance between giving them enough guidance and boundaries to ensure they learn to make healthy choices while giving them the freedom to have-a-go on their own. Also, telling a child that you trust them is a powerful motivator for your kids to prove this is true.
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 is important that they know that even though you are supporting their efforts to ‘take the reins’ themselves, you are there to back them up if needed.
Some teenagers will be ready for more autonomy in their decisions and others will need a bit more support and guidance. As their father you will have sense of how ready and capable they are of managing their own decisions and how much you will need to guide them and support them to take on this responsibility.
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.
- Give love and support. Teenagers still need and usually react positively to parental love, support and guidance.
- Allow competent teenagers to take responsibility when you see them handling situations well.
- Praise their efforts. When your teenager displays good self-management skills let them know you have noticed and are proud of them.
- 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.