Setting Boundaries for Teenage Son
It seems like someone just turned off the light switch. Rules and discipline that used to work for your son suddenly becomes ineffective or stop working all together, as your son turn into a teenager. Do you find yourself caught by a surprise sudden change in your teenager behavior? Family tensions often arise due to the clash between your teenage son wanting total and full freedom without any responsibilities and the parents wanting full control and keeping tight reigns that worked for their son as a youngster and preteen.
Some parents may have chosen little or no consequences or discipline for their kids in early childhood and preteen years, wanting to be a friend to their son rather than a parent. Sometimes that work well but often it does not especially in the teenage years. You may think it is harder now to parent in the internet, smartphones, and smart devices, social media age, who my son has access to and who has access to my son. Think again. Your parents probably have felt the same way about the influence of TV, internet, peers on you when you are growing up. They still had to take responsibility, setup and enforce effective boundaries for you. Although often it is easier for you as a parent not to set effective boundaries for teens, it is in your son’s best interest that you do so.
Does your teenage son exhibit one or more of the following behaviors?
- Is disrespectful to you, siblings, teachers and others in authority.
- Is physically bullying, threatening or outright violent.
- Constantly challenges and flat out refuses to obey house rules
- Refuses to do any family chores and expect everyone to cater to him.
- Lies to you
- Has mood shifts and can suddenly erupt.
- Engaged in substance or alcohol abuse.
- Seems to either hang around with the wrong crowd and/or spends most of his time/seems addicted to playing video games and social media.
No wonder you feel discouraged and hopeless. You are parenting a teen that wants to do things when he wants to do it. He is not interested in earning privileges that come with responsibility. Your tough but very important job is to setup loving and appropriate boundaries for him without being too over controlling. You want to teach him that when he shows responsibility, he will gain more freedom. As a parent, you may have only few years left to help him navigate his way successfully into adulthood. Down deep, many teens are crying for help but will not show it. Many of them desperately need their parents’ guidance and want healthy boundaries to their inappropriate behaviors.
Your teen lives in the present with little or no regards to the future. They care about what their friends and social media “friends” think. So what can you do as a parent to help your son?
Appropriate Boundaries for a Teenage Boy
- Put things in perspective. Remember your own teenage years. You probably drove your parents to insanity, by breaking and challenging the family rules but at the end you still turned out ok.
- Be a good role model. Although your teenager may not be listening to a word you say, you are he is watching closely your actions. You will need to set and consistently enforce age appropriate boundaries for yourself, teenager and your other children. For example, if you a get drunk, stay out late at nights at the bars, is disrespectful and argue with your spouse in front of your children, your teen will have zero respect for you and will resist any boundaries you try to enforce on him.
- Make the time/consequences fit the crime. If your son spends all his time playing games on his phone, engages in excessive social media and refuses to do or argues about his schoolwork or chores, then ground his smartphone. If he refuses to give you his phone, turn to technology for solutions. For example if you are a Verizon Wireless customer, you can use Verizon Smart Family app that allows you to set data and time limits, pause the internet, limit the social media he uses including restricting the use of certain apps like Snap and allows you to know his location at any time (assuming he has his Smartphone with him).
- If possible, do not remove healthy activates as part of the discipline like his teams sports
- Stay Calm; do not lose your cool. You are not going to outshout your teen and if you do, you modeled an inappropriate behavior to your son.
- Be consistent and persistent. If you have not been enforcing boundaries or healthy boundaries before, it is going to take time for your son to adhere to the new boundaries you instated.
- As your son shows more responsibly and adherence to the boundaries, gradually loosen the controls as he continues to approach adulthood.
- If your teen eruptions, anger and physical violence is influencing/impacting your other children, it is your responsibility to remove your teen from the home to a behavioral unit to keep everyone safe. Make sure your teen knows that you will not hesitate to call 911 and have him temporarily removed from home if he is physically or verbally threatening.
- Try to spend quality time with your son. If he likes video games, play with him an “appropriate game” even if you do not care for video games. Try to listen to him and learn more about what is going on in his life and what is on his mind.
- If all else fails, consider a more serious intervention like sending your teen away to a boarding school for troubled teen. You may want to consider a Christian Boarding School for Boys. It is a place to clear his mind from negative peer pressure, discipline bad habits and establish good ones.
If you are physically afraid to enforce any consequences then it is already time to get outside help. Consider Gateway Academy for Boys. Call us at 850–547–9011. We exist to help families through these difficult times. You and your teen will survive these rocky years.