The teenage years can be a difficult time as adolescents no longer want to be treated like children. Their independence is important to them, and is part of their normal development. However, parents must make sure there is a balance between helping their teenager feel independent and also ensuring they are safe.
If you give teenagers responsibility, you are helping them with their independence and maturity. According to HealthyChildren.org, preparing teenagers for responsibility and independence in advance is helpful. Before your teen learns to drive, for example, take time to talk about road safety, and let him know you will keep an eye on his driving even after he's got his license.
Having a clear set of rules your teenager is expected to follow can help give her independence. These can be age-appropriate, such as setting curfew times, as well as general rules such as not allowing smoking or drinking. According to the Teen Help website, parents can discuss these rules with teenagers, let them know in advance what the consequences will be if they are broken, and take time to explain why the rules are for the teen's own protection and well-being.
Respecting a teenager's privacy and need for space helps to give him feelings of independence and trust. Knock on his door before entering, and refrain from monitoring his phone calls or e-mails. The KidsHealth website suggests giving teenagers privacy, but if parents are concerned or worried about their teen, they should interfere.
The teenage years can be a vulnerable time, but it is helpful to give teenagers as much freedom as possible, although some caution is needed. KidsHealth suggests monitoring your teen's Internet and TV use to ensure she is safe. Friends can be particularly influential through the teen years, so it's a good idea to know your teen's friends and where they are going in advance.
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