Parenting Teens With Love and Limits

Parenting Teens With Love and Limits

Your teenager may not like some of your rules, but good parenting often means making unpopular decisions. Showing your teen love and affection – as well as setting boundaries – can go a long way toward helping your child follow the rules.

It’s tough for kids to handle the emotional and physical changes of the teen years. They may not have the experience to sort out the good from the bad in television, movies, music, the Internet and peers.

What are the best ways to guide your teen on the journey from childhood to adulthood? Most experts agree that building a strong sense of self and setting clear limits are key.

Putting love first

Showing teens love and affection is as important as it was when they were small. A loving relationship can build your teen’s self-esteem and sense of security. You can show your love by spending time with them and showing interest in their lives.

You can show affection to your teen by:

  • Celebrating accomplishments. It’s taking part, not winning, that counts. Praise your child for performing in a school play or writing an article in the school newspaper.
  • Spending time together. Hikes, bike rides or even watching TV together can strengthen the bond between you and your teen.
  • Using small gestures. Send an encouraging note, card or e-mail to your child.

Balancing act

Parents have to balance their teens’ desires for more freedom with their needs to make sure teens are safe. Teens need the chance to make choices and, in some cases, to fail. But it is a parent’s responsibility to protect teens from poor choices with lasting results.

Many parents bend over backward to avoid conflicts with their teens. But part of being a parent is to establish limits without feeling guilty or apologetic. As a parent, you need to give careful thought to the goals you want for your children.

Remember to pick your battles. Teens often tune you out when they think you are nagging all the time. Figure out which issues you are firm on. Be clear and stick to your guns.

Take time to talk to your teens so they clearly understand the rules, and know the consequences if boundaries are broken. When your teen crosses the line, make the punishment fit the crime. For example, if your teen doesn’t come home at curfew, take away car privileges for a period of time.

If you’re frustrated about your teen’s behavior, try using the “neighbor test” to keep your cool. Treat your child as if someone outside of your family was always watching you, such as a neighbor. By doing this, you may be able to regulate your emotions and avoid making comments that could upset your teen.

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