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Parenting Tips5 Tips to Help Develop Independence in Your Teenage Child

5 Tips to Help Develop Independence in Your Teenage Child

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Raising a teenager can feel very daunting to many parents. They are maturing and learning who they are, but they still need your guidance and support (whether they want to admit it or not). How do you help them gain the necessary independence that a teenager needs, while also ensuring that they are safe and provided structure? Here are 5 tips for fostering independence in your teenage child:

Allow them to help determine family rules – Including your teenage child in the process of establishing family rules will communicate to them that you value their opinion. When they feel that their opinion is valued, they are more likely to follow the agreed upon rules. Additionally, if they take part in establishing the rules they have a better understanding of the purpose of the rule and the consequences for breaking them. 

 Be consistent – Even if your teenager has helped to establish the rules, there will, inevitably, be instances where they break a rule. In those moments, it is important to stay consistent. If you receive push back on a rule, remind your teenager that the family agreed on the rules collectively. You can also remind them of the importance of why the rule was set. 

Get them involved in volunteering or encourage them apply for a part-time job – If your teenager is not old enough to apply for a job, you can encourage them to volunteer at a local organization. Working, or volunteering, helps your teenager establish a good work ethic. Volunteering also teaches them to be compassionate and empathetic. As they transition into adulthood, they will need to learn to manage their time and working (whether paid or volunteer) while still in school is a great way to practice time-management. Having responsibilities outside of the home helps to encourage independence, as they learn to navigate their new professional relationships with co-workers and managers. 

Help them set goals – Your teenager should have goals. Goals provide teenagers with a focus point that will help guide them through life. Helping them set goals allows you to support them through the important milestones of their adolescence without micromanaging their day-to-day activities. As they accomplish their small goals, you can be there to help them discuss their new ones. With your guidance, they can achieve their academic, social, work, or sports related goals. Achieving their goals helps to boost self-esteem which is needed to gain independence. 

Give them autonomy – This is an important tip. Autonomy allows them space to make choices, and, even, to make mistakes. (Of course, we do not want our teenagers making mistakes, but mistakes are a significant part of learning independence.) As they make choices, it is also important to suspend your judgement about their choices. Obviously, if they are choosing to do something that might harm themselves, or someone else, you must step in but if your opinion, simply, differs from theirs – it might be best to let it go. Allowing them to have autonomy also helps to build trust; they understand that you trust their judgment, and thus they trust you enough to reach out when they need support or guidance. 

Your teenage child will gain independence and be prepared for adulthood if you provide them with the tools that they need. They gain independence by taking part in family discussions regarding rules and consequences, setting goals for themselves, building a strong work ethic, and by exploring their autonomy. During the teenage years, they are practicing for adulthood within the safety net that you provide as a parent; your guidance and support will help them confidently achieve independence. 


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