Teens and Boundaries

One of the things that define the teen years for many parents is difficulty with boundaries and discipline. Teens are eager to assert their independence, and this can often conflict with the rules you’ve set for your family. Dealing positively with these conflicts is important and will set a good example for your teen as he or she matures into adulthood.

  • Let your teen know you understand her need for independence, but it’s important to maintain family boundaries as well. Share a story from your teen years about when you broke a rule, what the consequences were, and what you learned from the experience.
  • Don’t get overly angry with your teenager for misbehavior. If you have set appropriate expectations for behavior, all you have to say when your teenager misbehaves is, “You knew what the rules were and what the consequences would be.” Convey that the consequences are a result of your teen’s behavior. This helps teenagers understand that they are ultimately accountable for their actions.
  • Negotiate rules with your teenager—teens are much more likely to obey rules if they have a say in the creation of them. They are also more likely to obey rules if they understand the reasons behind those rules, so explain to your teen why you’ve chosen the boundaries that you have.
  • As kids enter puberty, their behavior can change drastically. Continue to monitor which behaviors your child has trouble with and help them improve those behaviors.
  • It is almost always a good idea to allow natural consequences to play out in the situation—be supportive, but let your teen deal with the resulting consequences. For example, if your teen is serving time in after-school detention, make her responsible for calling her employer to rearrange her work schedule. Resist the temptation to bail your teen out or minimize consequences.
  • Keep money out of your discipline methods. Don’t give kids money to entice them to do something, and don’t cut their allowance for misbehavior. Find other positive methods to deal with behavioral issues.
  • Curfews are an especially contentious issue with teens—be sure to make these decisions before your teen is begging to go out for the evening.
  • It’s especially important to follow through on the consequences you have set for your children. Giving in or letting your child talk you out of enforcing your rules reduces your credibility as a parent, and your child may grow up thinking that boundaries aren’t important.

Boundaries and discipline can (and probably will) become sensitive issues during your child’s teen years. But with open communication, some forethought, and a lot of patience, you can set boundaries and enforce consequences in a fair manner that will help your teen learn valuable lessons for the future.

 

Comments

5

Great article. I agree with all of this completely. As a youth minister I work with teens daily and see the lack of discipline in this generation of teens as an epidemic. Parents need to wake up and realize that they can and should set boundaries and be responsible to hold their child to these boundaries. In my podcast at http://tmipodcast.com we discuss teen culture and influence and we hold fast to the belief that the #1 influence on a teens life should be their parent. This discipline concept is a major part of it. Thanks again for the article.

Mike

3

This is all great advice for a single family, where one parent is home to tend to the kids, but what about families in split homes where the rules and boundaries differ. Also, the epidemic the youth minister refers to is due largely to both parents having to work to survive and provide for their family. The lack of supervision of our children to provide for them allows them to make their own rules and “grow up” without boundaries being set and consequences being followed through with in the event of a rule being broken.

3

I have a teenager & she know it all, so she thinks. sometimes I don’t know what to do because no matter what i say or do she takes it the wrong way!

4

I think this article is great too I appreciate it’s breadth very much. I don’t know if I agree with everything in it, but it certainly gave me pause about the boundaries, discipline, and such I’m using regarding my son’s good behavior, misbehavior and the consequences for both. I am always searching for good ideas for parenting my son, and as is totally normal, he is especially challenging now, as a 13 y/o. He’s a very kind and friendly kid to his friends and other adults (and often to me), he’s a great student and he follows most of my rules. Reading your article reminded me how much I have to be thankful for. His misbehavior is mostly his reactions to having to do something he doesn’t want to do, to not getting what he wants or having a privilege removed for disobeying. But, again, reading your article reminded me that he is obedient very often and especially regarding my rules to ensure his safety, I’m very thankful for that.

4

I think this was a good article. As a mother of a 15 year old- I think it is extremely important to establish clear boundaries with your teen. I also believe allowing them to provide input is critical.

I am a single parent of two girls, 12 & 8 yrs old. I have had to crack down on my 12 yr old just recently regarding responsibilities, boundaries, consequences,etc. I am proud to say…it works! So, if I can do it (single parent) then there is no excuse for a two parent family even with both of them working. With firm consistency, manageable rewards, and age appropriate consequences, a parent can raise a responsible, well behaved child.

I am a single parent of two girls, 12 & 8 yrs old. I have had to crack down on my 12 yr old just recently regarding responsibilities, boundaries, consequences,etc. I am proud to say…it works! So, if I can do it (single parent) then there is no excuse for a two parent family even with both of them working. With firm consistency, manageable rewards, and age appropriate consequences, a parent can raise a responsible, well behaved child.

This is a great article. Many parents have a fear of disapline when it comes to teenagers especially a 16 year old girl. I am a grandmother that adopted my grand daughter. Sometimes I feel she hates me. She really shows no respect for her grandfather or I. we are not in great health but we do try to make her happy. When she is caught in a lie or etc. she plays the guilt trip on us. Everything is our fault, or anyones except hers. I really wish there was someone out there that could guide me in the right direction and most of all make me strong.

This is for Anonymous Tue, 2012-01-24 11:46,

I am sorry to hear you are struggling with your grand daughter. Know that you are not alone. There are so many parents in your shoes. Don’t let her make you feel guilty. We won’t always feel great about our parenting but just the fact that you’re on this website searching for help shows you care. I always live by this, “God will never put anything on your shoulders that you can’t handle.” Remember that God knows that you are strong enough, otherwise he wouldn’t have given you this task. As for your grand daughter…She will thank you whenever she grows up. Children look for discipline and guidance whether they realize it or not. Having structure in their lives will make them amazing adults. Good luck and God bless.

Submitted by Anonymous on 03/28/12
I am a grandmother raising my grandson from when he was 1, he is now 16 years old. Oh My how the time flies! Regarding responsibilities, boundaries, consequences,etc. I to am having my share of problems. I constantly remind myself that I am in the mother role now not the grandparent role, and beleive me it is very hard to seperate the two. My grandson has discovered he has a mind of his own which is expected in growing up, however we always talk about consequences of actions, curfews and of course chores. My grandson is almost always mad at me but loves me dearly. I know god had good intentions for me and my grandson, but he could have warned me ahead of time ha ha.

Hi “Anonymous”

First of all, we applaud you for stepping up to the role of parenting grandparent. It’s a challenging situation, especially where teenagers are concerned.

You are doing the right thing by seeking out advice and resources. We encourage you to continue leaning on the other caring adults in your grandson’s life to help you (and him) through the teen years.

Here are some more articles you might find useful as you continue your parenting role:

http://www.parentfurther.com/parenting/grandparenting

http://www.parentfurther.com/resources/enewsletter/surviving-teen-angst

http://www.parentfurther.com/blog/parenting-worth-the-wait

Hang in there, “Anonymous”. As you know, parenting (even the second time around) is a practice in delayed gratification. You can do it!

-The ParentFurther Team

I have a 13 year girl.. she looks 18 but has a brain of a 13 yr old. She started her period when she was 11. She has had hormones, attitude, boy craziness….etc.. I feel as if her father and I communicate with her well. I have had friends tell me that some of her teachers say she has a reputation with the boys. She won’t go in detail. I just don’t understand how she can have a reputation when she is rarely out of my sight. Then I got a call today from one of her teachers saying she took up a note between her and another girl. The basis of the note was talking about having sex.(her friend wrote: I think *** took you serious about wanting to have sex) SHE DOES NOT EVEN KNOW THIS BOY!
My question is do you think this is a 13yr old looking for attention or am I missing something? My next question is how do you punish for writing notes about things you have not done? She does not have a phone, facebook, Ipod…I have nothing to take away from her to communicate with older boys outside her school. She is a a-b student, cheerleader, student council, all around good girl. She is far from perfect, but I really didn’t think I was going to have to deal with this at this age.

5

Hi, I am a single mother of a 27 & 30 year old sons, married with families. Recently divorce of 3 years now, the divorce devastated my daughter of 13 1/2 now. Her father refuses to be a part of her life, he says he loves her but his actions … wait what actions? My daughter & I were very close, now she is so distant, angry, cold, loving when she wants something, good in school, good heart, but hates her father & takes that out on me. Two questions:
How do I get her to understand her father loves her in spite of his actions?
How do I punish her, other than grounding & taking away things? I am so lost to what really helps? I talk to her but it doesnt seem to help. She has already attempted so smoke, drink, and thankful NO Sex. I teach her strong morals & to wait for these things, I dont smoke or drink, nor in a relationship. I am at my whits end about how to reach her but mostly punish her in a positive manor?

We’d like to address a few of the comments on this page. To the mother of the 13-year-old girl, may we suggest the following resources:

http://www.parentfurther.com/high-risk-behaviors/early-sexual-activity/s…

www.parentfurther.com/blog/talking-to-tweens-about-sex

http://www.parentfurther.com/why/9-parenting-strategies

We also suggest you sit down and talk with your teen about contents of the note (in a non-threatening a way). Make sure your child knows she will not be punished for being truthful. Use this opportunity as a moment for communication, not discipline. More about positive discipline here:—> http://www.parentfurther.com/discipline-values/discipline

We hope you find these resources helpful. Please e-mail us at webmaster@parentfurther.com with any further questions or concerns.

Cordially,
The ParentFurther Team

To the single mother with the 13 year-old daughter. To address your questions:

1. How do I punish her, other than grounding & taking away things?

In a nutshell, it’s important to set clear boundaries and expectations for behavior, talk about these boundaries and expectations with your child, and then consistently enforce these boundaries and expectations. More about positive discipline here: —>http://www.parentfurther.com/discipline-values/discipline

2. How do I get her to understand her father loves her in spite of his actions?
There could be many reasons why your teen is feeling this way. We understand it can be challenging to parent without a co-parent in your household. Here are some tips for single parents: http://www.parentfurther.com/parenting/single-parenting. The teen years are tough, but hang in there. Even though your teen may be pushing back for independence, she will know that you (and her father) love and care for her as long as you are keeping the lines of communication open, setting boundaries and expectations, and consistently enforcing them. You may also want to pass the following information along to your child’s father. 9 parenting strategies for raising healthy, successful kids: http://www.parentfurther.com/parenting/single-parenting

Finally, you may find the following articles useful in parenting your teen:

http://www.parentfurther.com/blog/parenting-worth-the-wait

http://www.parentfurther.com/resources/enewsletter/surviving-teen-angst

Hang in there! Things will get better.

The ParentFurther Team

I have a 14-year old boy who plays video games a lot. He will do the minimum reqirement for his school work and then he would play games for hours a day. He and I always agree on a time limit (for example, 1 hour) before he starts. However, 99% of the time he will not stop when the time is up. I have tried talking to him, showing him the consequence, and taking away his computer or unplugging the internet. None of these works. When I try to stop him, he gets really mad and says bad words to me, and sometimes pushes me. When he is not playing games, he is usually a friendly loving person and has a good goal about what he wants to do when he grows up. However the video games prevent him from achieving his goal.
What can I do to help him?

To the parent with the 14 year old boy.
What a hectic time this is, I also have a 14 year old boy. In the last 12 months he has overtaken me in size but I was determined for him not to overtake me in authority. Just to clarify I am a very authoritative parent (not an authoritarian). As we see all around the world influence comes most strongly from the person who follows through on their word. This is about boundaries and consequences. For me it was also about getting rid of parental guilt that seemed to paralyse or undermine my ability to discipline. Last week my gorgeous and bright son was sent out of class, again. He texted me straight away as we tend to be connected to each other despite the tug-of-war. I replied with the following “Your deal. Your responsibility”. He replied “Yeh”. The school rang 5 minutes late and I made the following points: – my son is clever and old enough to know how to behave – he has a stable home with a mum and stepdad who encourage and help him – he is being defiant at home – it’s time that I stopped fighting some of his battles – It’s time he matured and took responsibility for his actions. – it’s his life and he needs to learn how to choose the way forward, I cannot make him, I can only provide the best environment for him to make the choice

I spoke with my husband and that night we removed his xbox, ipod, phone and computer. We told him about other behaviours we expected from him and told him we would discuss them in a few days time and make a plan. We also removed his bedroom door. We feel that he needs a reset, a reminder about earning privileges. That going to his room and slamming the door and sulking is not helpful. That being distracted by electronic gadgets is not helpful, and its a privilege to have these things and to use them appropriately.

I think the biggest surprise is that he is clearly not happy about us implementing strong boundaries and disciplinary measures but he didn’t yell and scream. He is mad and unpleasant but he seems to just “suck it up”. I think that he wants the boundaries, he feels secure and safe on some level when we come down on him. It sends the message that we care enough to take action.

I have been a single parent and I know how exhausting it is to implement and maintain these boundaries. My partner is a great support. When I feel weak, tired and couldn’t be bothered he reminds me of my goal and love for my son. He reminds me that if I am not consistent then things will gets worse and far more distressing. To single parents I salute you. I suggest you find someone who you can call, who can really support you. If you have a son find a male friend, a mentor and ask them for help. It’s not ok to be physically pushed, if he learns that he can do this with you then he will do it to others and most likely other woman. Find a mentor to stand beside you. To send him a message that you will not be pushed around. I wish you the best of luck. There is no right answer we just have to keep doing the best we can.

I highly recommend this book “The politically incorrect guide to teenagers” by Nigel Latta. Apart from being amusing it has some very helpful tools, it’s very practical and it helped me to understand the teenager dynamics much much better.

Good luck

The age old...and non usefull...but why did we shut up and 'put up' with our parents strictness or really just did what we were told. I can't figure out how they parented, or how to do an 18th of parenting any better than I am. Thanks Ive gotten a great deal from reading everyones advice and know I'm not alone but...it's so hard to walk on egg shells with 15yr old hormonal 6ft barbie daughters. I love her but I don't know her. I've already 'lost' her for 6 mths. this yr (to her father - 'he lets me'....) and now she's back the whole house is waiting for the next implosion. I don't want to admit but I've allowed her outings to gain ground ...but got nothing in return. To combat the non compliance I attempted a pow wow that ended in tears and 'this is why I don't want to live with you your always so mean...you never let me do anything - there's nothing to do here anyway... ' The door came off that bedroom three years ago , went back on but without the lock, can't slam that way. Still I can't get her to talk to me, cos she reckons I'm lecturing her, can't get her to show me where she's at at school cos she thinks I'm hassling her...wants her lap top but won't negotiate. I wonder...is there a place Moms can run and hide in.

Well,very good article and I totally agree with it. The only problem for me is that there is no difference when it comes to me and my 12 year old daughter since she just keep on arguing with me.I always pray that it will be better but we’re not there yet. I have tried everything but none of them works. If you could,is there any other possible things that can help me and my daughter?

My mother is an older parent is that normal?

1

I disagree

I have a 19year old with a mind of a 11 or 12 year .A 16 year controlling girl wanting him to steal calling him her bit h,and her fu k r .And wanting him to goto the corner store to buy her drugs and she ‘s getting away with it.what can I do?

My son is 19 teen my friend is almost 50 i feel disrespect is this wrong

I have a16year old and 17year old the 17year old is disrespectful and very rude in school only happen in the last few months The school have phone about this behaviouor she do not behaviouor at home like this please advice

I have a 16 year old preety much has everything nice only when she wants something always has an attitude very nice around her friends always blames us as parents never say anything nice unless she wants something she cant wait til she turns 18 to do what she wants seems like she don’t care I have a sick husband with a lot of medical problems an thing is she is his her little angle since she was born this to daughters we have , have been spoiled by him thing is they don’t understand now that when he could work they had everything an the few weeks I worked as well now me the mom can not work cause of my husband to many medical problems what can I do now theres more but to long to tell such a long story but please advise.

4

I do agree.. Good article..!!

1

Negotiate the rules with your teens? Seriously? How can you do that to someone that doesn’t earn a living and have any idea the work involved in keeping food on the table, or the electricity on?

hi can anyone help i’m heavily pregnant my husbands terminal ill and my 14 year old demands money. He has pocket money weekly and then wants more.If he can’t get his own way he will hit/punch a wall and say very hurtfully things to me e.g i’m a useless mother how can i stop him acting this way.

hi just talk to him….he might be very upset because of the situation now..

hi everyone

I’m glad to see I’m not alone with the teenager in the house . My son is just 11 years old but just as emotional as I was when I was his age.

my problem is patience with the hormonal behaviors . I am looking for coping mechanisms but cannot seem to find any Ideas online for dealing with antagonistic behavior. I have a very smart son who is way beyond his years in psychology. I want to be able to connect, and am having a hard time doing so… I’m not proud to say I think it is my lack of patience that is giving us strife . I know he does not have the tools to emotionally deal with my reactions to his antagonizing, however the fact he knows how to antagonize is the frustrating part.

I have tried all of the tools listed on this page with no luck…following through on all of it ….this is the way it goes…. negotiating … It does not work. I have set boundaries , yelled, asked nicely, bribed, and asked my husband to be an authoritarian … nothing. What I am worried about is, the frustration it causes my relationship with him directly, and the horrible cycle between us .. he thinks I am mean and I think he is a little spoiled… or maybe II’m weak… I don’t know. THE CYCLE>>>up at 5 30 am together…I go to work he spends time getting ready for school husband has already left…he goes to school by himself… and comes home..I have just walked in the door and sat down he says everyday…whats for dinner im hungry….I say can you help (im a chef ) So I come home made dinner, spent time running errands, doing laundry, spent time trying to do an activity with him getting resistance , had his friends over, walked the dog, did the dishes, and then sat down…that’s when it starts… the behavior I can only describe as poking a dog with a stick until the dog bites …that is what happens between us. ..he pokes, it tell him to stop he pokes again , i warn him of his consequences, he pokes again I get up raise my voice he runs away laughing then pokes again just to push me over the edge … when I snap he gets in my face and laughs or screeches just to antagonize one notch higher .. then I have to bite to de escalate….. I cannot find a way out of this vicious cycle can anyone direct some information my way that might help????? he his pokes are crazy vocalizations winding the dog up ,

from loving mother …..distressed and frustrated … nanhazard@gmail.com

I have a son, and this article brought back a lot of memories. As a judge, I am particularly interested in how he responded to rules. I am a strong supporter of “social contract” – making and negotiating rules with my teen. If he wanted a rule changed (like curfew, etc) he had to have a plan, tell me what that plan was, and execute it. If he screwed up, we went back to the old rule, until he said he had learned something and wanted to try again. I am very concerned about responsibility, but I actually had the opposite problem- he initiated so many activities himself (swim team, orchestra, work, advanced subjects) I found myself asking, “Did you find time to do something fun for yourself today?” I really think you need to know your child REALLY well, because eventually they will have other influences in their lives, and that’s part of life. Which one of you calls their parents to tell you what to do? At 18 he was furious when I called him a “boy”. That really made him mad. My son RARELY gets mad, so I usually listen when he says he’s ticked. He said he really did not want to be called a “boy” anymore, he wanted to be a “young man”, and I think he was right. He had already had a lot of experience, and he had earned it.
I am very happy to be part of my son’s life now, as a 24 year old, and I hope we can respect each other as men. I do admire a lot in my son, and I was flattered to hear from someone else how he admired me. I must be a lucky father, because he has a very gentle personality. Realize your teen is trying on adulthood, and be firm but kind. When he was 16 he went on an exchange programme for a musical thing, and had the time of his life. I had never seen him so happy. I think letting him go was the right choice, though I was REALLY anxious about it! Be open and honest with your teen – talk to them with respect, and make sure you set the boundary right away – I’ll treat you with respect, if you treat me with respect. That’s how things work. I think reciprocity makes for a good household, and a good model for social behaviour. Now my son plays for a major symphony orchestra, and he really goes through life well.

Our daughter seems like such a nice girl. Certainly we have at our ups and downs. She’s about to turn 13. I just picked up her phone and saw her talking about sex with her “boyfriend” they haven’t even kissed. She’s crying and telling me that the other girl that she knows talks like this and the boys all like the other girl. I will follow advice about sitting and talking to her although this is probably the third time that I’ve talked her in a month about not acting like others just to fit in. My question is that I want to take all the electronics away because she obviously is not old and mature enough to understand the consequences of what she writes. Does that just make things worse?
I need help trying to figure out the right way to proceed so that she doesn’t go down a bad path at this point

I have a 15 year old grand daughter, she is a straight A student, plays golf, just an all round wonderful girl, she has come to me about sex, says she can’t talk to her mom about this, she has a boyfriend an says she ready to have sex with him, i have tried to reason with her, shes not old enough to make that sort of desision yet,, shes says but mamaw, i feel like i have a future with this boy, i explained that once she does this she can never go back, she pouts , but not at all disrespectiful, we are very close, an i want her to always come to me for advice as she always has, how do i convience her to wait, desperate grandmother

I have 15 y/o boy and turning 16 y/o on August. I found pot in his gym bag this morning after I dropped him off at school. I dont know how to start to talk to him. I am afraid I might lose my patience and get mad at him. Please advice.

5

I just learned that my lady friend, an attractive grandmother of 70, has slept with her now 13-year-old grandson since he was one. She also “counsels” him every night for an hour before they retire. This troubles me. I am adamantly opposed to the sleeping arrangement and 60-minute brainwashing. Any ideas?

I have a 14 1/2, aloc. Crack, pot, adopted at birth child as we’ll and I am remarried an the man I adopted her with has little to none with her as well. She is beautiful , talented,sings,learning piano, grades coming up Tops two yrs in row, all this from a child who they said would be really delayed . She Is feeling abanded by birth doneres an adopted dad, even though she has an amazing step dad , she calls dad, who she considers her dad. She even started clawing her arm when she got grounded , she said it was because she missed our X but she never speaks of him, I feel it was to get out of punishment , what should I do left claw marks all over forearm .

Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and also the rest of the site is also very good.

My granddaughter was raised in a Christian home. Shortly after her 16th birthday she had her first date with a Christian boy. Six months later she became pregnant but lost the baby two months into the pregnancy. Later she got a BC implant with her parents permission. She has resumed dating the same guy. We feel her parents have now given her permission to have sex. The parents don’t look at it that way, that the implant is only there in case the hormones rage out of control. What would your recommendation be in these circumstances for both the parents and our granddaughter?
Thank you,
Anonymous

Concerning the money- why give a teen an allowance? Shoudn’t they be earning their money by doing chores and having a job instead of depending on the welfare of an allowance? And when you mis-behave on the job, isn’t there the opportunity to lose your job (i.e.- have a pay cut)? Learning how to respect money and how to hold on to a job are valuable life lessons.

Post new comment