Practical Tips for Re-Establishing Boundaries With Your Teen
Many parents face the problem of redefining boundaries with their teenagers once behavioral lines are irrevocably blurred. In general, it is far easier to reset boundaries with younger children than it is with teenagers who are operating under the belief that they are entirely independent of your parenting skills. Although they may sound mature, and they may very well be, there will most likely always be traces of child-like behaviors that remind you of their real age.
As a parent, it is only natural to want to nurture your children, helping them develop skills that will lead them into adult life with as few emotional scrapes and scars as possible. When unacceptable behavior goes unchecked it can cause several issues, some so serious it leaves little hope for peace in the home and the development of harmonious relationships. You should know something is not right when the demands of your children force you to succumb to keep the peace. In essence, the teenager is parenting the parent. It is time to take back control of your family and your home.
Establishing some form of normalcy with a hostile and belligerent teenager in the house is not only emotionally draining, but it can put a tremendous amount of strain on the relationship of the parents. Boundaries are an integral part of family life; it is ideal to establish them as early on as possible. However, it is important to keep in mind your teen is going through many emotional and physical changes. In addition, your child is still under the heavy influence of the behaviors to which he or she is continuously exposed.
Begin by having a civilized, adult-like conversation with your child. Do not talk down to your teen or treat him or her in a manner that suggests you do not respect your child’s thoughts, opinions, and ideas. Your teen is at an age when he or she can discuss what is going on at an emotional level. Try to determine the cause of the behavior and why your child feels it is necessary to act out. You will be better equipped to handle a situation if you have certain information. Ask your teenager relevant questions about possible problems in school life, social life, and home life.
Try not to let the discussion escalate into an argument and do not make the mistake of lecturing. If the conversation develops into an argument try quell the rising anger immediately. Once you indulge in a battle the only thing anyone experiences is the vicious circle of cause and effect, which will never offer a solution. When your child feels comfortable he or she is more likely to open up about various issues. Once you have pinpointed behavioral issues and their possible causes you need to determine what the consequences will be. Do this by setting rules, which should include a curfew, study schedule, and chore roster.
You and your spouse should not only agree on the rules you set, but you should agree to create a united front for times when your teen thinks the boundaries can be manipulated with either parent. Allow your child to be part of the process to avoid any conflict at a later stage. If your teen agrees to certain disciplinary actions, he or she will have little standing when claiming the consequences are unfair. Try to be reasonable about the discipline. In other words, the severity of the consequences should reflect the behavior. You may agree with your teenager beforehand on the confiscation of technological gadgets, the implementation of a tighter curfew, and the removal of his or her allowance. You might also decide there will be restrictions on the use of a vehicle if your teen possesses a driver’s license.
If there is one hot button to be aware of it is this; teenagers will test the resolve of their parents until breaking point. They will break you down, until you give up. Therefore, you need to be consistent, even during times when your teen is gradually wearing you down to the point of making you want to pull your hair out or shout at the top of your lungs. It is almost as if kids have this innate ability to know when you are about to crack and let them get their way, and they will not stop until they do. This is the time for tough love, and you need to start by sending the right message. Do not waver on the rules and consequences, because when you do you are setting the boundaries up for failure once again. Following through is essential if you want to start seeing an attitude and behavioral change.
The next crucial step you need to take is positively reinforcing good behavior to encourage your teen to achieve his or her best. It is far too easy to nitpick and criticize, which only defeats the objective. However, do not grossly overindulge your child. Praise your child when his or her behavior warrants it, but do not go out and purchase the latest technological device as a reward.
Ensure you take time out of your day to connect with your teen. When you are not around your kids, they will be subject to negative outside influences, especially from peers. Maintain an open line of communication by touching base with your children every day, even if it is only around the dinner table. Accountability is another vital part of the process of re-establishing boundaries, so be sure to instill a sense of responsibility among all family members.
If your child continues to disrupt your home, or behaves erratically you should consider consulting a child psychologist or counselor. There may be a deeper underlining problem that requires addressing. A professional will be able to assist by providing you with an assessment and invaluable advice. The key to success in this situation is perseverance, so when the going gets tough stick it out.