What are good rules and rewards for teenagers? Why do we bother putting rules into place? Limits and guidelines during adolescence are an important part of getting the budding adult ready to leave home. During this preparation time, keeping focused on the end result (a successful adult) is important. When presenting and negotiating rules with your adolescent, begin by exploring the potential results of successfully following guidelines.
Here’s what your list might look like:
Before you accommodate her, though, make sure that you have
- You’ve reached maturity when…
- You choose to be with family and engage politely with them during family time.
- You manage your own homework and schooling.
- You develop good solid friendships: e.g. consistent, caring and respectful.
- You balance your needs versus your wants: e.g. schooling versus electronics.
- You spend time every day engaging in housework on your own.
- You take care of your own stuff such as doing your own laundry and cleaning up after yourself.
- You manage your own schedule (academic, work, home, social).
- You take care of your body by exercising regularly, your nutrition by making good food choices and your mind by giving yourself relaxing/reflective time.
- You manage your own money for entertainment, activities, and clothing by keeping a checkbook and budget.
- You work outside the home to earn and contribute to your own care.
- You manage your time and inform your parents in detail and beforehand about your plans and schedule.
- You can cook basic meals.
- You volunteer for your community.
Do all of the above and you’ve achieved INDEPENDENCE and maturity!
Clearly all of these skills do not have to be accomplished for an adolescent to move away from home and succeed, but the majority of parents that I work with want nothing more than to raise a well-balanced and independent child. In the meantime, however, parents have to set rules that slowly but surely move the child toward independence. Rule categories might include: family time, academic expectations, use of electronics, household responsibilities, personal responsibilities, financial responsibilities, social limits, mind and body responsibilities, community responsibilities. Here’s what the rules might look like for a 13-15 year old.
Rules: the following are our expectations to help guide you toward adulthood.
- Family time is a priority. We have one day a week exclusively for our family as well as family meals on Tuesday and Thursday.
- All homework, exercise and chores must be done before electronics are used.
__ (you decide) hour(s) worth of homework or studying Monday-Thursday and on Saturday so you keep up with projects as well as an understanding of the class material.
- We expect some form of exercise for physical and mental health including walks, sports, and other exercise programs.
- We encourage quiet time for reading and reflecting.
- We encourage no junk food during the weekdays.
- All electronics are off during family time.
- Facebook, My Space, instant messaging, and texting are privileges that we support as long as they are balanced. We support your social interactions; however we reserve the absolute right to monitor any electronic exchange. We will be your “friends” on Facebook or MySpace. Any written diary or phone calls are clearly your private information. The difference is based on safety. We will coach you on the use of the Internet and what is acceptable to write and publish online and we will make sure your connections are appropriate.
- Grades are important. We expect B’s and above. For Facebook, MySpace and instance messaging privileges, we need to see B’s and above on all work brought home or on webgrader (an online grading resource) from the week before. Mom and Dad will check on Monday evenings. No missing, F’s, or C’s on your weekly work. The only exception is if you are absent. Every Monday you have a new chance at good grades for the coming week. We have the right to have you delete your Facebook, MySpace, instant messaging, and cell phone accounts if these rules are not followed.
- If you achieve a ___ (GPA) for the Semester, you get to start driver’s education.
Chores are essential. We depend on your participation in managing the household. You get your age in allowance ($1 x 14 = $14) for finishing chores. Although we will assign chores generally, our goal is for you to look around the house and make helpful contributions rather than us having to ask you to do a chore.
- You need to do your own laundry on Saturdays.
- You will contribute one meal a week. We will teach you how to cook several meals.
- You now have your own checking account. We will give you a monthly allowance for your monthly entertainment. This will not include your cash allowance on Mondays for household chores. This is the money we have always spent on you for entertainment (friend’s birthdays, movies, etc.) that amount you will now manage. You will need to budget it so that you have money throughout the month. As you get older, you will receive budgeted money for other expenditures like clothes, cell phone bills, etc. Mom and Dad will help you budget your money and learn to use a checking register.
As the adolescent reaches 16-18 years of age, the rules change depending on your child’s level of maturity. Teenagers need continued guidance, like the rules offered above, but others need more freedom in order to exert their own judgment. I recommend adding a curfew for adolescents 16 years old and above. Allowing for more freedom at this age – allowing your children to make more choices, even some controversial ones – allows them the freedom to fail while still under your protective roof. Keep in mind that 18 is just around the corner. Learning important life lessons in your teens while living at home provides a safe environment in which growth can take place.
Girls To Pearls: A Young Woman's Guide To Living Life Freely, Loving God Naturally, and Surviving Puberty Successfully (Volume 2)
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