BEING a parent can come with a lot of worry about what your teenagers are getting up to when out with friends. They can be tempted to smoke, drink alcohol, miss school or join peers in other potentially questionable activities. Teenagers are only just learning to be responsible for their own actions and are finding their way when dealing with risk. If too many restrictions are placed on them this could prevent them from developing important skills and may increase risks when they are older. Here are some tips on how to help prepare your teenager and encourage them to problem solve for themselves.
Identify a risky situation
Think about a situation your teenager will be in that you feel poses a risk. This could be going for a sleep over, heading to a party, or hanging around with older teenagers. Think about what you feel is the risk here and why. It could be you are worried about other teenagers influencing them, encouraging them to drink etc.
Talk with your teenager
It is important your teenager understands your concerns without thinking you are nagging. Choose a time to talk to them when you will not be interrupted. Explain why you are concerned about an upcoming event and be open and honest. Let them know you are willing to let them go if they can help come up with some ideas to avoid getting into trouble, or a situation they don’t want to be in. Many teenagers get into trouble because they find themselves in a situation they hadn’t considered and tend to follow their peers because they panic and don’t have time to come up with a sensible solution. They need help to plan ahead for risky situations.
Help your teenager to plan ahead
Talk through the details of the situation with your teenager: where and when the party is, who will be there, etc. Encourage them to problem solve about what to do if something unexpected happens. This could be something simple like not being able to get home or it could be they are offered a cigarette. Help your teenager to come up with ways to avoid these situations in a way that they are comfortable with.
Specify a consequence if your teenager engages in risky behaviour after this discussion. It may be that they will not be allowed to go to future events. This consequence needs to be something that is important to the teenager to act as a deterrent and also something you are willing to impose. But it mustn’t be so severe that your teenager may avoid coming home as a result.