Setting healthy boundaries for teenagers need not be a difficult feat for parents to achieve. Many teenagers go to the way side because parents give up on parenting once their kids have reached the age of 14 or so.
Did your parents also set healthy boundaries for you when you were a teen? I wonder if they had a tough time, or whether you were an easy teen to handle without any set boundaries?
Practical parenting is about extending your parenting skills further and for longer.
There’s no point nurturing them in their young years only to stop suddenly before they’re ready to be let out on their own, just because you’re not sure of what to do next.
Teenagers still need careful supervision. They still need to be told what to do and shown how far they can go.
They still need guidance in every aspect of their lives because they aren’t wise enough (yet) to see the pitfalls the parents are experienced enough to notice.
This is the reason they pick unsuitable friends. They’re just not ‘ripe’ enough to have great judgement and mature awareness.
Here are 4 great ways to help you the parent, in setting healthy boundaries for your teenager before they set off on the road to destruction.
Let your teenagers know what you expect of them
Be a practical parent by showing your teenager what you expect of them.
Don’t talk down to your teenager. Don’t tell people they’re off the rails or that they’re unruly. Tell people how great they are. Pick out their best bits and always talk about this with others and to them.
When setting healthy boundaries always remember to give them confidence in their abilities. Do not bring them down with negativity.
Reinforcing their faults only makes them worse. (You don’t want your spouse to constantly talk about your faults. It’s worse when your parents do.)
Show your teenager that you expect good behaviour and you’re proud of the things they do well. They will reward you with more positive behaviour.
Provide incentives for your teenager to be responsible when setting healthy boundaries
If they cook dinner, they could have an extra hour out with friends.
If they pick up a young sibling from school each day, they could do something special with friends at the week-end as a reward.
If they make you tea when you come in from work, then you can surprise them with a treat in their packed lunch now and then.
You know your teen, so you can find suitable ways of rewarding them according to their personality and likes when setting healthy boundaries.
Practical parenting uses incentives for two main reasons: they show your kids you love and appreciate the good things they do, and they condition them to the fact that good deeds are rewarding.
Give your teenagers healthy boundaries
They may say they don’t like it, but in my job as a youth worker (and parent of 3), teenagers thrive on boundaries.
They quickly roll downhill – personality and behaviour-wise if boundaries aren’t set early in their lives.
The hormones and confusion they experience in teenaged years work up something nasty if they aren’t set blueprints of how to conduct their lives.
In this pressuring time, the only thing that keeps them advancing in a positive way is a map to follow.
When setting healthy boundaries, you have this map in your hands. Draw out the path they should travel and show it to them.
Give them clear guidelines in the form of boundaries. You don’t have to be crazily strict, just show them where to go. This is so much easier than letting them choose for themselves.
They have exams, peer pressure, spots, periods, brain freezes, annoying teachers, un-cool parents… the list goes on.
They need your help. Don’t leave them in a lurch.
Boundaries have to be set and reinforced when the need arises. As your teen gets older, boundaries also have to be moved and pitched differently. You as a practical parent have the wisdom to do this – not your teen.
Your teen needs some time with you
Of course, you’re working and very busy. However, spending time with them is not a marathon.
You only need a few minutes to have a chat. You don’t have to spend money on quality time either.
Spend time with your teen on an individual basis. They need this more as they get older.
Your relationship is changing rapidly, and in order to keep up with it, you need to see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re going with your teen when setting healthy boundaries.
A trip to the shop to do the food shopping, a cinema trip, cooking a meal together, a car journey are all subtle ways of spending time with your teen without appearing to be pressuring them into it.
If your teen is accustomed to spending time with you anyway, they wouldn’t feel this is a negative thing. If this is something you’re just beginning to do, then the above examples will get the ball rolling for more lengthy quality time together.
Your life with your teenager need not be a miserable one. It takes work if you’ve let it slip a little, but once you get your relationship back on track, teenagers can also be sweet, responsible and fun to live with.
You just have to keep in mind that with practical parenting, the ball is always in your court. You run their lives – not the other way around. Do it sensibly, will you?
Over to You –
Have you had trouble recently – setting healthy boundaries? How did you overcome them and what advice could you give the other readers where setting healthy boundaries for your teenager is concerned? Share in the comments below.