This is a contributed post by Michael Vaelljo, co-founder of Mental Health Center Kids.
Teenagers go through changes during adolescence that might influence their behavior, and for that reason, setting boundaries for teens is a crucial piece of good parenting. Kids at this age need your help and support so they can make the right decisions as they become more independent.
In this article, you will learn more about managing challenging teen behavior and how to set boundaries with love.
Understanding Teen Behavior
Adolescence is a period of growth, exploration, and development. As teens crave more independence and autonomy, it’s normal for them to try and push boundaries.
Moreover, they experience hormonal changes, which affect not just their physical appearance, but also their emotional state. There is also the pressure of doing well in school and considering their future. They might also struggle with their identity and be affected by peer pressure.
Additionally, research shows that risk-taking behaviors increase during puberty because of changes in the brain, which leads to reward-seeking tendencies. These behaviors decrease when transitioning to adulthood because of changes in the brain that lead to improvement in self-regulation.
All of these changes can lead to challenging behavior such as defiance, school problems, aggression, eating disorders, internet addiction, and other risk-taking behaviors. This is why they need your support during this tough time.
The Concept of Setting Boundaries with Teens
Teens need safe boundaries that can help guide them on what to do and not to do as they explore new things. These boundaries should not be seen as a barrier meant to stop their growth, but as a safe fence that allows them to try new things safely and at a controlled rate.
Boundaries can help your teen understand what behaviors are expected of them. It can also help them make the right decisions when confronted with a challenging situation. By having clear limits, you can also let them know that you are concerned about them and make them feel supported.
Boundaries can also help teens learn to take on responsibilities and understand that certain behaviors have possible repercussions. As a parent, you are responsible for setting these boundaries so your child can grow up as a happy, independent, accountable, and respectful member of society.
Remember that you’re setting these boundaries for your children out of love so you can keep them safe and happy. For instance, teenagers are continuously exposed to screens nowadays. Studies have shown that excessive screen time in teens is linked with mental health problems, so it’s beneficial for them if you help set digital boundaries, like clear limits for screen use.
Three Effective Strategies for Setting Boundaries for Teens
Setting boundaries for your teen doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some effective strategies you can try:
1. Prepare before the conversation
Before you sit down with your teen for a conversation, the first step is to talk with the other parent about the most important boundaries you need to set. Examples are digital boundaries (gadget use), physical boundaries (protecting their physical space, especially with people they’ve just met), and curfews (whether they’re driving or watching a movie with friends).
Choose a place and time when you and your child have plenty of time to discuss boundaries. Make sure that everyone is in a calm mood, so you can approach the conversation from an objective perspective.
2. Communicate rules and consequences
Communicate your expectations for your teen’s behavior and the consequences for failing to reach those expectations. Make sure that they know that any action that can put them in harm’s way is not acceptable. List possible situations when they need to make the right choice and help them understand the effects of risky behavior.
Additionally, it is also a good idea to teach them how to set boundaries with other people, so they can avoid unhealthy relationships and mental health issues. For instance, they should set boundaries for how other people touch them or say no to things they don’t want. Always give them reminders about the importance of respecting boundaries and personal space.
When communicating with your teen, try to use a friendly and approachable tone. Aside from that, be open to feedback and address your child’s questions. Always remind them that these boundaries are for their safety.
3. Shift boundaries over time
It’s a good idea to shift boundaries to allow for more privileges over time, as long as you see that your teens are following your rules and being trustworthy. Teenagers need to have more autonomy as they grow and mature, and making adjustments on your part can help them gain skills that they need for adulthood.
This also applies to when your teen often breaks rules. You can reduce their privileges and let them know that good behavior is expected before they can gain back access.
Overcoming Challenges in Setting Boundaries for Your Teen
If you set boundaries suddenly, your child might react with resentment or refuse to obey your rules. That’s why it is important to always remind them that you are doing this out of love and concern for them.
It is also important to remind yourself of what it was like when you were a teenager. Teens need to feel heard by their parents, so love, respect, and empathy can go a long way.
When your teenager makes mistakes and nothing seems to be going right, remind yourself that raising a teenager takes a lot of work. Try to stay calm and address their behavior so you can correct them without lashing out.
Set Boundaries To Help Your Independent Teen Stay Safe
Adolescence is a time when your teenagers are pushing for independence. With these boundary-setting tips, you’ll be able to guide them as they experience new things. This way, they have the opportunity to gain new skills, learn life lessons, and practice being independent without risking their safety.
Parenting teens and tweens is hard, but you’re not alone. These posts may help:
If you’re looking for a great resource to help you set boundaries with love, we recommend Parenting Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood by Foster Cline, MD and Jim Fay.
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