It can be a bit scary and overwelming when your realize your teen is start to grow up and become independent. While your first urge may be to lock them in the basement until they’re 18, that probably won’t work out well. Since we can’t keep our children by our side all the time, it’s important to take steps to keep them safe when we’re not around. So what should we do?
Communication is key and starting to talk to your teens early can help. Teach them what kind of behavior you expect from them and what you won’t tolerate. Also teach them how to say no when they don’t want to do something, and how to get out of various bad situations. You may even want to go as far as role playing with your child.
Set clear rules and boundaries for your teen. Make sure they know ahead of time what they are and are not allowed to do. Set a strict curfew and make sure they understand what the consequences will be if they break the rules. If they break the rules, be firm. When you make rules and don’t stick to them, you’re child is less likely to follow them.
Ask your teenager where they are going and what they are doing. Take it upon yourself to make sure they are where they say they are. This doesn’t mean you need to follow them around town, but you should call parents of the friends they’re going with and double check the plans and just to ensure they’re safe. You may also consider getting them a cell phone so they can check in every so often. While you may think your children will feel oppressed by this behavior, they will also know you care what happens and feel more responsible about keeping out of unsafe situations.
While you may be more concerned about the trouble your teenage child and their friends might be causing, you should also be aware of people trying to hurt them. I never realized this before, but teens are the most victimized of any age group. Make sure they know how to defend themselves. You may even want to consider enrolling them in a self defense or martial arts class. The good thing about these classes is that they stress defense and escape.
While you can’t protect your teen all the time, you can guide them towards making good choices to help them stay safe.