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Setting Rules and Boundaries

There are many changes which come along with the onset of the teen years. But there is one part of child rearing that remains constant. Children, no matter what their age, need loving, consistent discipline. However, it is no secret that parenting a teen brings unique challenges. Not only is she bigger, more verbal, and able to get into a lot more trouble, she is also preparing to become an adult. This strive for independence means she’s more likely to test your authority and push the limits. How can parents handle these challenging days?

Following is a list of suggestions that you may find helpful.

  • Stop fighting and arguing – You cannot effectively guide or mentor your teenager if you are arguing all the time. When conversations get heated, agree to walk away until things have calmed down. Refuse to listen to a teen who insists on talking in a disrespectful manner. The best way to stop negativity, nagging, fighting, and yelling is to not allow it or engage in it.
  • Be clear about your expectations – Explain the rules, consequences, and rewards for behavior before it occurs. This is much more effective than trying to solve a problem after it’s happened. All children feel more secure when they know what is expected of them.
  • Be consistent – Since we cannot always be there to prevent our children from making mistakes we must be certain they at least learn from them. We do our children no favor when we set down rules and consequences and then do not follow through with them. Oftentimes it is very tough to watch our teenagers suffer the outcomes of bad choices- but it is essential that we do what we say we will. Our children need to know they can trust our word.
  • Children who are ‘out of control’ are begging for attention –  Too often we want to be our child’s best friend. Our teenagers don’t need more friends; what they need are parents who are willing to stand firm and guide and protect them. They may beg for more freedom, but what they really want are clear boundaries that allow for growth within limits.
  • Don’t expect your teenager to thank you for your discipline – Parents are the most influential force in their child’s life. Your children will thank you after they have had their own children but rarely during these trying times. Hold fast to your values and know that your unpopular decisions will pay off in the long run.
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