Setting Limits For Teens
The Importance of Rules: Setting Limits for Teens
Rules don't alienate kids. Rules about what's acceptable — from obeying curfews to calling in to tell you where they are — make children feel loved and secure. Rules are also a key ingredient in substance abuse prevention. But rule setting isn't always easy.
Need help setting limits with your teen? Keep these three tips in mind:
1. When kids break rules, parents often overreact with harsh, disproportionate and unenforceable punishment, which
undermines the effectiveness of setting limits. Instead, when you first tell your child about a new rule, discuss what
the punishment will be and how it will be carried out. Consequences must go hand in hand with limits so that your
child understands the cost of breaking the rules. Punishments should be reasonable and related to the violation. For
example, if you catch your son and his friends smoking, you might ground him by restricting his social activities for
2. Punishments should only involve penalties you discussed before the rule was broken. Also, never issue empty
threats. Since we're all more inclined to say things we don't mean when we're upset, it's best to cool off before
3. Insist that your teen be in adult-supervised situations after school. Encourage her to get involved with youth groups,
arts, music, sports, community service and academic clubs. Research shows that adult supervision of adolescents
after school is a key factor in substance abuse prevention. An example of an appropriate consequence for violating
the after-school adult-supervision rule is loss of an activity of “freedom,” like a parent-free trip to the movies or mall.