How Much Freedom Does Your Teen Need?

There comes a time in every teenager’s life when they want to spread their wings. Freedom gives your teen confidence, lets them try new things and allows them to grow, but too much freedom can cause them to get into trouble. As a parent, how do you strike a delicate balance? It’s all about assessing the maturity of your child and deciding which freedoms will empower and teach them and which might lead them astray.

Of course, the freedom they might need varies from teen to teen. Some teens can be responsible about certain things and completely misstep when it comes to others. It’s important to give your teen the opportunity to prove themselves. Let them earn your trust by affording them incrementally more freedom.

Why is Freedom Important to Teens?

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Teens are always pushing the boundaries. They’re hardwired to push for more independence as they grow — even if they aren’t ready for it. Freedom means making decisions for themselves. It’s part of your job to make sure that they have a good foundation of knowledge and strong values so that they can make those decisions.

Not only is freedom integral to your teen’s personal development. If they feel too restricted, it could backfire and result in rebellion. If your teen sees any of the boundaries you’ve set as unreasonable, it could make them want to challenge all the guidelines you’ve set for them.

Freedom Equals Responsibility

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Freedom comes with a lot of responsibility. Giving your teen certain allowances is important for them to learn how to manage themselves. If you give your teen permission to go to a party, you’re telling them that you trust them to make wise decisions when alcohol and substances might be available.

Your kids are going to have to be independent one day, but there’s no need to rush towards adulthood. If they’re not ready, say “no”. Use these “no’s” sparingly so that they mean more to your teenager. Carefully limiting your child’s freedom will help them mature at their own rate and also let them just enjoy being a kid.

Building Trust

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You know your teen best. You’re the best person who should decide whether or not your son or daughter can handle an unlimited data plan or an 11pm curfew. If they aren’t quite ready to handle a late night with friends or car privileges, you can give them the opportunity to earn this privilege.

Giving them incrementally more free rein will ensure that sudden freedoms won’t be a shock to their system and it will be easier to make your expectations clear. It can also work as a rewards system. For example, if your teen shows that they can be trusted to complete their homework after school consistently, let them go to that weeknight movie they’ve been dying to see.

This will teach them that completing their obligations early means they have the freedom to do something fun with their spare time. It also shows them that you trust them to take ownership of their own academic success. Knowing that they have your confidence will encourage your teen to work harder not to let you down.

Never underestimate how much your teen values their own freedom. Navigating how much to give and when can be hard, but it’s worth the trouble to keep your teen happy and safe while they grow and mature.

Feature Image: Frank Park