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How to Keep Your Teen Out of Trouble: 10 Tips

Teens are naturally rebellious, and when you combine this with all the potentially destructive influences that today’s teens are exposed to, it is not surprising that the percentage of young people who have been arrested at least once has grown in recent years. And these incidents can have lifelong repercussions. Even a minor offense such as shoplifting or drug possession can set a young person back and shut opportunities to them. And of course, there are many much more serious crimes that can taint records permanently and even ruin lives.

Sadly, much of what teens do must be out of their parents’ hands. We cannot watch our children every second of the day, and the teenage years are a time when kids need an increasing amount of freedom in order to find themselves and become independent people. But while you cannot control your child’s actions, what you can do is provide a positive influence and a supportive home environment to reduce the risk that your child will turn to bad behaviors.

If you are worried your teen might get into trouble if left to his or her own devices, here are some things you can do.

1. Assign responsibility: Idle hands are the devil’s playthings, as the adage goes, and there are many things you can do to keep your child busy. Most important, make sure you have a system for assigning chores in your household. If motivation is an issue, consider tying chores to allowance. And when your child gets old enough, a summer job is not a bad idea.

2. Have plenty of family time: Time spent with family is time when a teenager cannot be out getting into trouble. Of course, family time is deeply unappealing to many teenagers, so make sure you have family discussions about the sorts of things you can all enjoy doing together.

3. Have limits: For many of today’s parents, the temptation is to want to be the teen’s best friend, and this can make things difficult when it comes to discipline and setting rules for the household. But now that the child is becoming more independent, it is important to continue to establish that the parents are the authorities—at least until the child turns 18—and that certain structures and rules must be observed.

4. Instill positive values through action: No matter how much you lecture your child about the importance of doing things right, staying out of trouble, and doing well in school, it is not going to have an effect unless you back up your words with actions. So, as part of your family activities, try doing things that are good for the community and the world. There are many volunteer opportunities that welcome the participation of whole families. But it does not need to be as structured as that. As long as the household energy is positive and nurturing, your child will be less likely to get in trouble.

5. Stay in touch: Many parents resist giving their children their own phones, and for very good reason, as phones can be abused. But if you get a phone and a plan that lets you monitor your child’s activities and limit their capabilities, it can actually be a wonderful open line of communication between you and your child. Sure, your teen might use the phone for many personal things, but it will also ensure that he or she is always within reach, and they have no excuse for ignoring you.

By Lisa Pecos

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