Why Teens Still Need Rules and Limits

Believe it or not, that fiery, independent teen still needs and wants a few ground rules.

Once children hit the teen years, it’s only natural that they begin to spread their wings. But as teens become more independent, they face increasing challenges, from driving cars to attending parties where alcohol or drugs are a part of the scene. It can be a confusing time for adolescents, but by setting limits our teens are helped in maneuvering their way through this challenging phase.

Dr. Peter Marshall, child psychologist and author of Now I Know Why Tigers Eat Their Young, believes parents will have the most success in setting limits with their teens if they allow their teens to have some say in the ground rules. “I think very often conflicts develop because parents try to impose things without consulting. It’s very important to involve young people in what the rules are and the consequences when they are broken. Sometimes parents worry that teens will come up with a ridiculous consequence like not eating their peas, but really the opposite is true. Teens are usually very responsible when given the chance to take charge over their own lives.”

Sometimes your teen will come to you with a request to do or try something you may consider too risky, such as a weekend away with friends. Since the goal is to help teens eventually make wise decisions on their own, you should reserve your opinion and “try to listen to what they want and give them air time to say what they want and why,” suggests psychiatrist
Dr. Marshall Korenblum. “Then in a very low key, matter-of-fact way review the pros and cons of their proposal and what the consequences might be if they mishandled the freedom that they’re asking for.”

Finally, keep in mind that there are times when a parent’s job is to simply say “no” adds Korenblum. “As a parent you sometimes in the end have to agree to disagree. You’re the parent, you still have the right to set limits. The child may be unhappy, but you just have to say that you think they’re not ready at this time and let’s have another discussion about it in a month or two.”


Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.

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