Setting boundaries for teenagers

As a child grows up parents often set boundaries to help the child understand what is acceptable behaviour and what is not, or to keep the child out of danger. Part of this discipline includes explaining why they must behaviour in this way – for example if you run across a road you might get hit by a car.

When a child reaches their teenage years they often dig their heels in or refuse to listen to their parents. This a way of them showing that they are an individual with their own opinions and is a normal part of a child’s development. When dealing with a teenager it is important to explain fully why you are asking them to do something.

Establish rules and clear consequences of breaking those rules

Setting rules for teenagers is about discussing things and making agreements about what is acceptable and what is not, and the consequences of breaking those rules. Boundaries work far better if they are agreed together with teenagers. When teenagers understand what you are asking of them and feel that you have taken their opinions into account they are more motivated to co-operate.

Stick to the rules

Once you have set out a series of rules try to stick to them as much as possible. It is also important that you and your partner back each other up and that you make it clear when they have broken the rules. Try to lead by example. Teenagers are less likely to accept the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ argument.

It is completely normal behaviour for a child to test the boundaries that you set. When they become a teenager it is important that you adapt these boundaries to reflect their new experiences and responsibilities. When doing this always make sure that you involve your child in setting these new boundaries.

Be positive

Don’t forget that too many boundaries can cause resentment and can also be very difficult to police. Make sure that work out what is really important to you and set boundaries according to that – these will change as your child grows up.

Being a teenager is a difficult phase in a child’s development. They are discovering who they are and they often experience a big drop in self confidence. Try to reinforce the positives and remind your child of their strengths and how mush you love them. (Teens are never to old for a hug)

Rules can help you keep your child safe, but as they get older you will need to negotiate and let them take more responsibility for their own safety.

There may be times when your values conflict with the values that your children are learning from other people and the media. This may be when you find yourself negotiating.

At the Koushinkan Aikido Oxford martial arts club we offer children’s Aikido classes for teenagers. The syllabus we teach for these classes is specifically designed for the age group and covers a range for exercises and activities that help the child develop and stay safe.