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Negotiating The Rules With Your Teenager

Jul 8, 2008
We all know as parents that discussing and negotiating the rules with our children is never easy. When they were younger, "negotiating" was a series of, "Please, Please, Please, can we, Mom?" until we relented. As they grew into elementary age children their skills became more savvy in order to get what they wanted. As teenagers, the rules and restrictions you put in place are just as important. However, their negotiating skills have been honed to a fine degree.

What do you do, especially when every decision you make has their safety and well being in mind? What do you do if your decisions on their best interests just fall on deaf ears.

Teenagers, despite what they go through in their bodies, are all very different. What might need to be a rule for one, may not even be an issue for another. That being said, there are many parameters that we set as parents that are the hard and fast rules. These are those rules with no "wiggle room." These are the rules we set forth to protect our child's health, safety and well-being. These rules and their consequences should be very clearly defined and it should be understood by all involved that they are there for a very important reason and that they are 'all or nothing.'

Rules that keep our children safe are of the utmost importance. These could include everything from teaching them the rules of safe driving to teaching them how to be safer online while on the computer. Teenagers, just like younger children, need to understand these rules are to be followed to the letter and there is no room for negotiation in any rule of personal safety.

Safety rules for teens also include expectations about drinking, the use of illegal drugs, or safe defensive driving. These rules are imperative their health, well-being and safety. There should be no room for experimentation or relaxing the rules in specific social situations.

While safety rules comprise the ones that are non-negotiable, there is plenty of room here with other rules that can be fairly and equitably negotiated with your teenager. It's a good idea to do so. Rules regarding how many hours per week can be spent on video games, what time a child is expected home for dinner, what time each night homework is to be completed, or how late a weekend curfew is are all rules that can be discussed openly and honestly between you and your child.

Just make sure they are consistent. Allowing 11 p.m. one weekend and then telling your teenager 9:30 p.m. the following weekend night when going out with the same group of friends is a disaster for you waiting to happen. Discipline, as well, needs to be even distributed and followed by you, too, perhaps more importantly than applying the rules. Consequences should be consistent, fair, and always followed through.

A consistent and fair set of rules that are more of an agreement between you and your teenager are better for all concerned that rules set by you that they are ordered to follow.
About the Author
Joyce Jackson is a child safety expert #1 bestselling author, consultant, speaker and trainer. For her extensive website and information see Keeping Kids Safe.
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