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Strategies for Immature Teens

by Kay Ireland, studioD

Your teen might be taller and look older, but his 8-year-old self might still be lurking inside. While your teen's immaturity might drive you nuts, give him a break -- he doesn't have the benefit of experience to help him become more independent and responsible. As a parent, you can help your teen have those experiences so he becomes a little more mature over time.

Check Your Expectations

Before you can work to help your teen become more mature, you'll need to check your expectations to ensure they're realistic. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the teen brain isn't developed enough to fully understand consequences. Instead, your teen tends to live in the here and now, which can result in poor -- and immature -- choices. While it's possible to foster responsibility and maturity in your teen, don't expect him to become an adult overnight. Allow your teen to be immature occasionally -- it's in his nature.

Encourage Responsibility

An immature teen might not have had the opportunity to mature through responsibility, leadership and independence. By offering your teen the opportunity to be in charge, you force him to look past the present. Whether through chores around the house, a summer job or volunteering in the community, offering leadership opportunities helps your teen wise up and learn the difference between being a participant versus the one in charge. He'll also soon learn what happens when he drops the ball when given important responsibilities.

Set Boundaries

Because your teen might not make wise decisions, set clear and consistent boundaries for behavior and decisions. An immature teen, for instance, might make the short-sighted decision to try drinking for the first time without thinking about the consequences. If you've already talked to your teen about the dangers of underage drinking and set a no-tolerance guideline for the behavior, he might think twice before participating. Don't make the mistake of simply expecting your teen to make the right decisions -- talk to him about what you expect so he understands the rules beforehand.

Allow Consequences

Immature teens are often allowed to remain immature when parents, teachers and other adults make excuses for them. If you tend to step in to shield your teen from the unpleasant consequences of his actions, you aren't doing him any favors. By allowing your teen to be affected by the consequences for his actions -- whether it's a missed homework assignment, chores that went undone or rules that were broken -- you help teach him responsibility. He soon learns that negative behavior merits negative consequences and positive behavior merits positive perks, which can be instrumental in helping him to become more mature.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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