Should You Let Your Teenager Mess Up?
As a parent, you don’t want your children to get hurt. You want to catch them before they fall. Kids get bruised knees, and they need your support to get back up and heal. When your kids grow into teenagers, they crave independence. That means they’ll make mistakes and wrong choices and probably get hurt in the process. As much as you want to keep them from pain, protecting your child from mistakes doesn’t allow them to grow. Its hard to do, but you should let your teenager mess up.
Letting Your Teenager Make Mistakes
Teenagers don’t just want freedom; they need it. A teenager’s brain is developing at an incredible rate. Their minds are changing just as much as — or more than — their bodies. They are becoming curious about who they are and what they want.
Teenagers feel grown up and want to experience the world with the freedom of adulthood. They no longer want to follow rules blindly. They might question authority figures and push boundaries.
This curiosity can be difficult for parents but is integral to developing maturity and knowledge. Teenagers need to ask questions and look for answers. They are creating their own sense of right and wrong, and sometimes, that means they will make mistakes. They will take risks and make poor choices, but learning from those experiences will grow them into successful adults.
How to Let Your Teenager Mess Up
It is important to release the reins on your teenagers, but doing so is not always easy. Seeing your child fail is difficult. Not everything will go their way all the time, and developing the skills to deal with those moments now will benefit them later on.
Facing failure is an important experience; it helps build resilience. Although it may hurt to see, when your child is thriving in adulthood, you’ll be glad you let them make mistakes. The same way you might encourage your child to put aside parties to focus on schoolwork for a better future, you must put aside the current pain of watching your child fail and know it will benefit them in the long run.
Don’t withdraw yourself fully—you are their parent, after all—but rather than holding their hand through each step as you did when they were younger, guide them with a gentle hand and be there when they need your help. You can help guide them to make the right choices, and when they don’t, you will be there to support them and guide them through that as well.
How to Balance Freedom and Rules
You want to provide enough love and attention, so your child knows you are there for them but not so much that they feel smothered. You also want to give them freedom but not so much that they end up in risky situations without help. Help your teen develop a sense of right and wrong. They need to learn that actions have consequences, both good and bad. Finding this balance means:
Set rules together, so you are on the same page. This gives your teen responsibility with supervision. They need to have consequences for their actions even if they have some independence. This reflects what adulthood will be like.
Teenagers are smarter than you give them credit for. Explain why you made a rule and be clear with your intentions. Don’t ask them to follow a rule; tell them they must, and explain what will happen if they don’t.
While you shouldn’t let your teenager drive out of state to see a concert without parental guidance, you also don’t need them to check in every 20 minutes when you know they are at their friend’s house. Make reasonable, age-appropriate guidelines.
Naturally, teenagers pull away from their parents in favor of their friends. Your teenager may not want to go to a concert with you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t watch a movie or go to the grocery store together to pick ingredients for dinner. Do things together regularly to ensure you are involved in each other’s lives.
You shouldn’t allow your teenager to have free reign all of a sudden. Adjust their rules as it makes sense. Allow them a later curfew if they’re good at following it, but if they break it, dial it back. If they follow the rules well, extend their freedoms and responsibilities.
Make sure they know that their well-being is the number one priority. Let them know that no matter the situation if they are even slightly uncomfortable, you will come to get them. Let them know you believe in their ability to handle themselves, but you are always there when they need you.
Step in when your child’s independence becomes too risky. If they are making choices that may risk their future or safety, you should intervene but talk to them about it. Discuss the choices that concern you and explain why they should make different decisions. Let them know that while you support them, you can’t let them risk their well-being.
Can we help you?
Teenagers are at an age where they want freedom but maybe can’t fully handle it. They need guidance but don’t always want it. As a parent, it is your job to balance what you let your teenagers do. Even though you want to protect them, they need to mess up to learn and grow. However, you don’t want them to mess up so badly that it affects their future.
Finding a way to deal with your desire to protect your teenagers and balance it with giving them independence is possible. Work with your child to figure out what they are capable of. Remaining close and involved allows you to trust your child with the freedoms you allow. At Havenwood Academy we provide effective family counseling so your family can grow together.
Teenagers are at an age where they want freedom but maybe can’t fully handle it. They need guidance but don’t always want it. As a parent, it is your job to balance what you let your teenagers do. Even though you want to protect them, they need to mess up to learn and grow. However, you don’t want them to mess up so badly that it affects their future. Finding a way to deal with your desire to protect your teenagers and balance it with giving them independence is possible. Work with your child to figure out what they are capable of. Remaining close and involved allows you to trust your child with the freedoms you allow. At Havenwood Academy we provide effective family counseling so your family can grow together. Call us at (435) 586-2500 to learn about our program.
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