Setting clear limits and expectations gets everyone on the same page. It is hoped that this will reduce the discussions, debates and arguments every time your teen asks for or to do something. Setting limits ahead of time can be an objective reference point that helps with reinforcing a parent’s thoughts about what is acceptable for their teen.
It is important for parents to have expectations and limits that are clear and reasonable. Reasonable limits are those that are respectful and appropriate and take into consideration a teenager’s age, circumstances, and capacity to be responsible. Obviously, a 16 year old will have more latitude to be independent that a 13 year old.
Another consideration that determines whether a limit is appropriate for a teen is the extent to which a teen has demonstrated an ability to be responsible and trustworthy. All young people mature at different rates and are affected in different ways by those around them. For these reasons, determining when your teen is ready to have more independence is based on an assessment of the teen. When a parent sees that a teen is being responsible, it is important for a parent to acknowledge that by giving the teen more independence. This is the way teens mature and improve their ability to be more responsible for their behavior.
Having expectations about a teen’s behavior is meaningless unless there are consequences for violating the rules that have been set. It is imperative that when a teen breaks a rule there must be consequences that are in proportion and relevant to the behavior. If the response or discipline is too strict this will foster resentment and rebellion. On the other hand, if the response or discipline is meaningless, the teen will disregard the parent’s expectations, knowing there will not be any significant consequences.
This is why agreeing to the consequences when setting a boundary is helpful. Make consequences that fit the situation and the rule that was broken. To the extent that it is possible, have a natural and logical consequence that fits the offending behavior. For example, if a teen ignores a curfew, then an earlier curfew might be set or the parent might pick up the teen to make sure the teen is home on time. Once a teen learns from the consequence, then another discussion can be had about reinstating the original curfew.
When there is an offending behavior, listen to what your teen has to say as sometimes there can be mitigating circumstances. If there is an offence, then parents should put a consequence in place as soon as possible. Also, it is critical that a parent follows through on the consequence. Sometimes a parent may “ground” a teen for weeks which is hard to enforce. Usually if a parents “grounds” a teen, they are also “grounding” themselves as the parent will need to be home too, to make sure that the teens is remaining at home.
Once a consequence has been given to a teen for a behavior, it is now time for the parents and teen to have another conversation about the offending behavior and reconsider and agree to what is a responsible behavior in the future. This conversation should also include a discussion of a future consequence if the behavior is repeated.
This is the way teens learn to take responsibility for their actions. Parents need to be reassured that teen’s build positive self-esteem by overcoming obstacles and negatives situations. By setting and enforcing consequences, parents are teaching their children a very important lesson in a loving, thoughtful and caring way.
The parents of Matthew discuss the hardships of their son’s death. Even though their son’s friends could tell that the driver had too much to drink, no one had the wisdom to take his keys or tell him not to drive. Now these parents had to do what no parent should never do: bury their own son.