What Happens to a Teen Who Is Not Given Boundaries?

by Barbie Carpenter

As teens mature, they assert their independence, exploring activities that interest them, forging relationships with peers and making decisions about their future. While you want to give your teen some independence, you also need to establish boundaries. Even if they protest, teens will appreciate boundaries, which leave them feeling secure, as the University of Florida IFAS Extension explains. By understanding the consequences of a lack of boundaries, you will quickly realize the importance of setting clear limits within your household.

Risky Behavior

Unsupervised activities for teens can result in risky behavior, according to Planned Parenthood. Boundaries prevent your teens from hanging out with bad influences and finding themselves in negative situations. Boundaries protect teens from unsafe situations. Planned Parenthood explains that your teen needs to understand your expectations, and you need to ensure that the teen meets those expectations. Without boundaries, peer pressure or simply too much unsupervised time might lead your teen to risky behaviors without considering the repercussions of such behavior.


Boundaries teach respect -- respect for the teen and respect for others. Teens who follow boundaries respect their parents' guidance and respect themselves enough to avoid unsavory behaviors. On the other hand, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation explains that teens who lack boundaries can develop a general attitude of disrespect -- for themselves, their family and their friends. Your teen without limits could disrespect his body by doing drugs, disrespect his friends by treating them poorly or disrespect his family by missing family functions to spend time alone with friends.

Unhealthy Relationships

Teens without boundaries are also likely to engage in unhealthy relationships. By not understanding limits, teens might spend too much time with friends or significant others, as the Palo Alto Medical Foundation explains. Every relationship needs breaks so that teens can recharge, focus on their family and appreciate their friendships. When your teen without limits spends too much time with her friends or significant other, she fails to appreciate the other people in her life and, instead, risks unnecessary conflict with them. Moreover, too much time spent with friends results in less time spent with family, which can hurt familial relationships.


Boundaries provide a sense of security from the toddler years through the teen years. Children thrive when their parents establish clear limits. The Michigan State University Extension states that teens without boundaries often feel less secure in their lives because their choices are often less safe and less clear when they have no limits to follow. Moreover, the University of Florida IFAS Extension explains that teens without boundaries also has less of a sense of place -- of where they belong -- when you do not set limits.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.

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