Looking after someone else's teen can be a worthwhile learning experience.

How to Look After Someone Else's Teenager

by K. Nola Mokeyane

Teens often seem like they're a species all their own. When looking after someone else's teenager, it's important to design a clear game plan to ensure that the experience goes well for all parties involved. Keeping the lines of communication open with someone else's teen -- and their parents or guardians -- can help you prepare for their stay in your care.

1. Parent Contact Information

If you’re looking after your son or daughter's teen friend while his parents are away, be sure to get as much information from the parents as possible. You should have their full home address, as well as the address for where they will be while their teen is in your home. Get the parents’ plane information, such as airline and flight number, if they’re traveling out of the state or country. If the teen’s parents are staying in a hotel, ask for their room number as well, just in case of an emergency. Communicate to the teen’s parents that you’d like to know where they’re staying and how to get in contact with them so that you can reach them immediately if there are any serious concerns.

2. Medical Information

It’s important that you obtain medical information about the teen you’re looking after. In the event the teen has a serious medical condition, such as asthma or food allergies, you need to be aware of how to manage these issues. Ask the teen’s parents about any medical issues they have, as well as their primary physician’s address and contact number. If the teen sees a specialist, ask for this doctor’s information as well. Suggest that the teen or the teen’s parents give a demonstration or write out specific details on how to manage incidents such as asthma attacks or allergic reactions. This will ensure that if the teen needs medical attention, you are prepared to help him.

3. Set Clear Boundaries

As teens become more independent and desire more autonomy in their lives, it’s important to acknowledge their need for independence while establishing clear boundaries that help keep them safe and responsible. ParentFurther.com suggests that you teach teens about mistakes you’ve made in the past, the consequences of those mistakes and what you learned from the experiences. When looking after someone else’s teen, be sure to keep the lines of communication open with him so that he understands that you respect his need for independence, but also require him to follow the rules within your home, or else deal with the consequences of noncompliance. For example, explain to him that the reason you’re setting a curfew is to ensure that he’s in the home at a reasonable hour and away from any misconduct that may be lurking around after hours.

4. Supervise, But Don't Smother

While it’s important to keep a close eye on the actions of teens, it’s just as important to give them their space to learn, grow and, well, be teens. When looking after someone else’s teen, allow him to spend time outside of the home with his friends or interact with others using social media, if his parents are OK with this. In supervising this teen’s action, you can establish clear boundaries of conduct by informing the teen that he must return home or log off from his computer at a certain time. TheChildrensTrust.org suggests you “Guide but resist the temptation to control,” which ultimately teaches a teen that there are benefits to setting his own boundaries because it’s essential for good decision making.

About the Author

K. Nola Mokeyane has written professionally since 2006, and has contributed to various online publications, including "Global Post" and Modern Mom. Nola enjoys writing about health, wellness and spirituality. She is a member of the Atlanta Writer's Club.

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