Adolescence is a stage of life when manifestations of rebellion and defiance of parental authority are common, and that is why in homes where there are sons or daughters at these ages, it can be difficult to set standards.
In this direction, here we will go over several common mistakes when setting limits for teenagerssee also an explanation of why it is advisable to avoid these situations when applying parenting and educational strategies at home.
7 Common Parenting Mistakes When Setting Boundaries For Teens
It is clear that no one is born knowing what are the best strategies for raising a teenage son and this aspect of life is too complex for us not to make mistakes from time to time; there is nothing wrong with not being exactly an ultra-efficient and perfect father or mother in everything that is done in front of the youngest in the house.
Now, you have to keep in mind that how people set boundaries and rules to regulate teenage behavior is a key aspect of parenting, and avoiding some common mistakes can have a very positive impact on coexistence and psychological development, even in the short and medium term. Let’s see what they are.
1. Establish very abstract rules
This is perhaps the most common mistake. Establishing rules that are too ambiguous and abstract, such as “behave well with your brother”, leaves only leeway for problems to continue to occur, because there is no reference on the limits to be respected at this rule and, faced with the lack of information, everyone adopts the interpretation that suits them best.
2. Establish rules that are actually sermons
The rules should be relatively short and easy to express in a few words, since, otherwise they forget. It is important to distinguish between the rule itself and the explanation surrounding it, which brings us to the next common mistake in setting limits.
3. Not explaining what the rules mean
Rules need to be backed up with an argument about why they exist, otherwise they will be seen simply as an imposition and display of power by adults. This, in turn, it predisposes the adolescent to rebel against these attempts to impose seemingly arbitrary rules.
4. Not explaining the reason for the punishments
Punishments, which should never be physical or based on violence, should always be accompanied by an explanation of their purpose; that is, why the adolescent misbehaved and what are the consequences of these inappropriate behaviors. In this way, the other person will better understand our point of view.
5. Not being consistent
A rule which is not applied is in practice a rule which does not exist. This is why it is essential that we are realistic in thinking about what these rules will be to respect, avoiding making them very easy or very difficult, and that if that happens, we will end up throwing in the towel trying to apply them because of the discomfort that comes from having to constantly punish or criticize the behavior of the teenager. Likewise, the punishment should not be exaggerated because, among other things, at the time of applying it, we will not feel comfortable with it and we’ll act like nothing happened.
6. Not leading by example
While some rules only make sense when they apply to minors, others make sense to all family members; and it is important to set an example with respect to this last type of rule to be respected. This means making an effort not to deviate from these guidelines of conduct and, in case we make a mistake and break them, show that we are aware that we have done wrong. In this way, we will not evaluate these standards and, at the same time, we will ensure that their achievement is associated with the idea of being a mature and adult person in the mind of the teenager.
7. Turn criticism into fights
It should not be assumed that each time we apply the rules when we find violations, a fight will take place to see who is right. Our role in these situations is rather to inform and support the possible problem that generated this bad behavior; the rules, once we have them in place, are foreign to us, and when behaving accordingly, it is important to adopt a constructive attitude and criticism towards the actions, not towards the person.
Would you like to benefit from professional psychological support?
If you need professional support for issues such as stress or parenting problems with teenagers at home, I invite you to contact me.
My number is Tomas Santa Cecilia and I am a psychologist specializing in intervention based on the cognitive-behavioural model; I deal with adults, adolescents and families both in person at my office located in Madrid and through video call sessions.
- Aguirre, A. (2009) Psychology of adolescence. Madrid: Marcobo.
- Roberts et al. (2006). Patterns of mean-level change in personality traits across the lifespan: a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychological Bulletin 132 (1): 1-25.
- Kimmel, DC and Weiner, IB (1998). Adolescence: a developmental transition. Barcelona: Ariel.
- Suripatty, L. (2021). The importance of assertive leadership style in school organizational development. International Journal of Research-Based Education, 3(1), 8-13.