How to set family rules for teens that they will respect

parent and teen laughing

Actions have consequences and with the raging hormones and need for independence, a lot of times teenagers can forget that. And when they do, it can make life for everyone in the family a misery.

But how do you go about setting family rules and not only that, how do you get your teen to respect them?

Well, it is best to limit the core amount of rules you are setting. Older teens in general need less and if you have too many it just gets overly complicated for everyone (including the adults) involved.

Psychotherapist Sharon Martin who specialises in adolescent counselling suggests starting with 3-5 rules.

She states, “Generally, older teens require fewer rules than younger teens. Too many rules are confusing to parents and children. It gets tougher to enforce them all. It leads to inconsistency and rules that don’t mean anything. Each rule should have a specified consequence for breaking it and/or a reward for following it.”

On the topic of consequences, it is worth noting that it is important that the rules and the consequences are linked and that everyone has a say in the rule-setting process.

Your teen is transitioning to adulthood and with that comes responsibility and if they have a say in the rules they will not only feel like their feelings are respected, but they are also more likely to follow them.

Which sounds easy enough and makes a lot of sense, but how do you go about putting them in place.

You need a plan of action and above all you need everybody on board so that plan can be implemented successfully.

Step one:
Discuss with your partner or if you are a single parent think about it by yourself or with a friend and list what things are most important in terms of what you would like your teen to respect. i.e. curfew, homework, attitude etc. Write down why they are important.

Step two:
Call a family meeting. Talk to your teen(s) about why you need to put some rules in place. Discuss your list and tell them why you think they need to be on there and then ask them to go away and think about what they would like to add, how they feel about your list and what they think the consequences of their actions should be if they misbehave or are disrespectful.

Step three:
After a chosen amount of time, reconvene the meeting and listen to what your teen(s) have to say and then work together to write the rules. It could work well to do both meetings over the course of a weekend.

Step four:
Display the rules and consequences on a wall in the house so it is clear and so that the “I forgot” excuse can’t be used.

Step five:
Have regular family meetings/chats and find out how the rules are working for your teen and for you. Don’t be afraid to adjust the rules every now and then if they need it.

By implementing these steps and incorporating some family rules, life at home will soon be more harmonious.

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