Some teens need more structure and rules than others.

Structure for Teenagers

by Kathy Gleason

Setting boundaries for teens can be a real challenge. Teens who are naturally more mature and responsible may need fewer rules and boundaries than kids who have shown immaturity or poor judgement. Ultimately, you will need to experiment to see what kind of structure works best for your teen and your family in general.

1. Set Rules

To provide structure for teens, it's important to set rules. For example, no smoking or alcohol use, no boyfriends or girlfriends in your teen's bedroom, and a curfew. You may also have rules regarding the kind of grades in school that you expect from your teen, and where your teen is allowed to hang out. Part of giving your teen structure includes giving your teen chores, such as taking out the garbage or being responsible for the laundry or dishes.

2. Know What's Going on With Your Teen

Be involved in your teen's life. Knowing you care can give your teen a strong feeling of security. The University of Illinois Extension suggests that parents make it their business to know who their teens' friends are and what kind of activities they are involved in. Ask questions about how classes are going, who your teen is hanging out with, where he's going, when he'll be back and what his plans are for the future, for example. Don't be afraid to ask for proof of activities if you have doubts. If your teen is going to a party and swears that the other teen's parents will be home to supervise, don't hesitate to ask for the parents' number to confirm the story.

3. Monitor Your Teen

There is nothing wrong with monitoring your teen if you feel it's necessary, reminds Teenpaths.org. Ask your teen's school to provide weekly progress reports on your child's grades, attendance and general attitude. You can also require that your teen “friend” you on social networking sites so you can see what photos and links she's sharing. If need be, you can also check her cell phone call and text logs. If your teen objects, remind her that you are in charge and that everything you do is an attempt to keep her safe and to teach personal responsibility.

4. Show Consistency

Consistency is key when working on structure for teens. As tempting as it can be to let things go because you're tired, stressed or just don't feel like fighting, it's important that teens know that the rules, as well as the consequences for breaking the rules, will be the same from day to day. Don't let a missed curfew go just because you and your teen have been getting along all week and you don't want to rock the boat by grounding her.

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