Setting rules isn’t one of the fun parts of parenting; but it’s essential to helping your tween/teen grow into a responsible young adult. As your family begins to prepare for the new school year, it’s important to set boundaries in a few key areas. This will let your tween/teen know what is expected of them as they continue through high school.
A curfew sounds like the end of the world for your tween/teen; but it’s important to remember how important keeping your child on a schedule is to their success. During the week, we enforce an earlier curfew than we do on the weekends because we believe our children need to focus on getting plenty of rest and preparing for assignments, tests, etc.
If your tween/teen does go out, you need to know who they are with, where they are going, and if they have a cell phone, have them check in. It’s your responsibility to know who and what is influencing your child.
The argument for/against homework varies from one person to another. Some school systems have removed homework altogether while others have limited the amount assigned. If your child does have homework, essay papers, or projects, it’s important to give them a comfortable place to complete the work.
During homework and studying, your child will benefit from a distraction-free environment. Personally, I always worked better if I had background music playing. It was barely audible and usually something soft yet upbeat. Try different atmospheres for your children to see what works best for them. We have a cellphone- and TV-free zone when it comes to homework time because my children were spending twice as much time as they should have been.
If your child is wanting to work after school, the groundwork needs to be laid from the very start. Check with your local/state laws and talk with your teen about what will be expected. If the work interferes with their grades, sleep, or creates a negative attitude, it may be time to cut back and focus on school rather than work. Earning extra money is one way your tween/teen knows they are growing up and offers a lot of responsibility; however, there is plenty of time for working when they’ve completed their schooling.
Tweens/teens love to stay at their friend’s homes on weekends; however, the rules you’ve agreed to should still come into play. The parents of the other teen should be informed to any particular rules that you have for your child. In addition, unless a parent is present, it is recommended that your teen not be allowed to spend the night.
Progress reports and report cards are a good time to reevaluate any standing rules you have with your tween/teen. If the grades are low, it’s time to find out the reason behind the slump and create a plan to improve. Open lines of communication will create a comfortable environment that encourages your teen to come to you with any problem or issue.
If your tween/teen is fulfilling their obligations for a class and legitimately putting in effort but still comes home with a less-than-satisfactory report card, schedule a meeting with the teacher. When my son started struggling in math, we met with the teacher to find out if there was anything we could do on our end.
Unfortunately, the teacher was not willing to offer any additional help. She was adamant about not coming in early nor staying after school. Because of the lack of interest in helping a willing student, we reached out to other teachers to help find him a tutor. It greatly improved his attitude toward math and brought his grade up one letter grade within a couple of months.
The teen years are filled with self-image problems, physical and emotional problems, and anger and frustration. It is recommended that parents keep the lines of communication open with their teens. This helps them come to you when they need an ear to listen and feel comfortable enough to ask for advice.
Being a teenager is different for each of us. My teen years were abnormal because of how fast I had to grow up. I didn’t have parents that I felt confident in helping me out with the situations I was experiencing. With my own children, I have created an open, caring environment. They feel safe to tell me about things happening at school, with their friends, things they see on social media, etc. No topic is off limits!
Setting rules and boundaries will help kick off the school year in a positive direction!