How I wish he were still a toddler!
Every parent of a teenager feels this at some point in their life. The irony is, when our child is a baby, we wish he grew up and when he grows up we wish he were still a toddler.
When your adorable little one grows into a teenager, parenting ceases to be fun. Handling teenagers is exhausting. Most parents dread it. Some just accept the problem and wait for the child to pass through that annoying phase while some completely give up on parenting.
Smart parents, like you, try to find ways to have peace at home. They choose the secret weapon called ‘house rules for teens’. MomJunction helps you in coming up with rules on various matters such as your teen’s safety, his health habits, ethics and morality, and of course some limits on dating too. But is it easy to make them obey these rules? It is not. And, so, we have also come up with some tips to make your teen stick to the house rules.
Importance Of Rules And Consequences
Children long for freedom and independence in their teenage. They need liberty to explore life, discover themselves and transition into adulthood smoothly. Unlike fully matured adults, teenagers need guidance to stay on their path and not stray into dangerous territories. More importantly, they need to master the art of self-discipline, which can be achieved with rules that set clear expectations and consequences.
That said, setting and enforcing rules is not a cake walk. Nevertheless, parents should have a list of house rules for teenagers to develop positive personal traits and values. Every family should have:
- General house rules, which apply to the entire family. These values are a reflection of your values, and help you determine what is an acceptable behavior and what is not. For example, treating others with respect is a house rule that every member of the family should follow.
- Teenager house rules, which your adolescent must follow. These rules are in addition to the general house rules, and aim at helping your vulnerable teen build character and lay the foundation for a successful professional and personal life.
- Consequences, if the teenager breaks the rules. Unlike the popular adage, rules are not meant to be broken. If you or your teen breaks a rule, then they must face the consequences. The consequences should be fair and impact only the person who has broken the rules.
- Most importantly, discuss the rules and the consequences with your children before you enforce them. That way, your kids will know what to expect when they defy the rules. Remember that the discussion is only to inform them, not adjust the rules to suit them.
[ Read: Tips For Parenting Teenagers ]
Rules do not pertain to just discipline. You need to come up with some for your teen’s safety and more.
21 House Rules For Teens That You Cannot Ignore
Whether you have teenagers, preteens or younger kids, rules are the only way to establish your authority. Good house rules enable teens to test their new found independence in a safe way.
We have divided the list of rules into specific categories for ease of understanding and implementation.
Rules To Stay Safe
A teenager’s new found independence can quickly land him in trouble. Whether it is experimenting with alcohol, drugs, driving fast, going out at odd hours or meeting new people, a teen can get carried away and indulge in reckless behavior. But with these five rules, you can let your teenager experiment with his independence, but in a safe and responsible manner.
1. Had a drink, then stay away from the steering:
In the US, nearly 10,000 people died in car crashes in 2014 because the driver was under the influence of alcohol (1). Drunk driving is one of the biggest reasons for road accidents involving teenagers. As a parent, you should know that your teen would try to experiment with alcohol under peer pressure.
The smart thing for you to do is to tell your teen that you will permit occasional drinking but drunk driving is a strict no. Make it very clear that even a single incident of drunken driving is enough to cancel all his driving privileges. Also, tell him that he should not travel with someone who is drunk while driving.
2. That phone call can wait until you apply the brakes:
Texting or talking on the phone while driving is another major reason for teen road accidents. You need to make it clear to your child that usage of a cell phone while driving is a complete no. If he has to take a phone call or check a message, he should first park the vehicle safely on the side and switch on the blinkers.
Tell them to wear a seat belt and follow speed limits always. Make it clear that even if they get a single traffic violation ticket, they have to forgo their driving privileges.
3. Won’t stop you from drinking but can definitely limit it:
Be a smart parent to know that your teen is likely to experiment with alcohol once he is in high school. You may not be able to prevent them from drinking before they become adults. But you can monitor their alcohol consumption. Underage teenagers should not be allowed to drink, and if they do, they need to face the consequences.
Set a limit on occasions when they can enjoy a drink.
[ Read: Why Do Teens Drink And Drive ]
4. The gates are closed after 9pm:
There is no use for you to be paranoid about your teen coming late to home. Your teen probably has a busy social life, but that is not an excuse to come home late. Instead of losing sleep, find a practical solution.
Set a reasonable time limit by when he has to come back home. If your child follows the deadline, you may allow some extra hours on special occasions. Likewise, set a specific bedtime for your teens for school days and holidays. They may not like it, but ensuring that they go to bed at a particular time brings in discipline.
5. Do not party at home when we are away:
When you are away, your child cannot bring his friends home. Most importantly, they cannot throw parties when you are out of town. You do not need to give them a reason for this. But if they are too stubborn and argumentative, tell them that if an outsider gets hurt in your home and sues you, your family will not have a roof over their head. Also, teen parties usually attract all kinds of individuals, some of them dangerous too.
6. Planning an outing? Take our permission:
Children should always seek permission from their parents before they go out. Make it a rule that they can go out only if they have informed you about it. The world we live in is not safe, and your teenager may not necessarily be the best person to decide on the safety of a particular place that he visits.
If they do not tell you where they are going, they cannot go out. It is that simple. Also, your teen girl or boy cannot go to a place that you believe is dangerous. You need not have to give your children an explanation for this, but do expect them to argue about it.
Rules To Teach Ethics And Morality
Consider yourself lucky if you have a teen, who is self-motivated to be morally and ethically right, and strives to build healthy habits. Adolescents are at a vulnerable stage where they are trying to identify what is right and wrong. In the absence of proper guidance, their demarcation between good and bad might get blurred. Hence, the need for the rules discussed below:
7. You can get respect only if you give respect:
This is a golden rule that your teenager should follow. In fact, this rule applies to every member of the family. They cannot disrespect parents or guardians. Also, they should also be polite and treat guests with respect, whether or not they like them.
8. No bullying, gossiping, and name calling:
They are signs of disrespect. Physical or verbal abuse, including pinching, kicking, screaming or yelling at someone, is disrespectful. Tell them to be polite and use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when they should.
Your teen has to do what you ask them to do. Stalling, complaining, whining, rolling eyes and arguing are signs of disrespect.
These basic courtesies are expected by people in the real world. As a parent, it is your responsibility to teach your kids how to treat people with respect. Tell your teens that if they expect respect from others, they need to give respect to the others.
9. It needs courage to be honest:
Integrity is important. Teach your kids to be honest. Make it clear to your teens that lying is unacceptable. They have to be truthful with you all the time, which also means that they should not omit any details or hide the truth from you. Teach them to be honest at all times: say what they mean and mean what they say. If they make a promise, they have to keep it.
Honesty is a trait your young adult will develop by observing. So make sure that you and your spouse are good examples for your teen to follow.
10. You need to ask before you borrow:
Whether they take it for a minute, hour or a day, they need to ask before they take someone else’s things. No matter how inexpensive or ordinary the thing is, the rule is to ask before they take it. Explain that when they don’t ask, they are not borrowing but stealing.
And if you borrow something, return it.
11. Knocking is more decent than barging in:
Always knock before entering into someone’s bedroom. Kids should always wait for a response before entering the parent’s bedroom or a sibling’s room. Parents can knock and enter, and they do not need to wait for a response.
No peeping into a room: respect other’s privacy, no matter how close you are to them.
[ Read: How To Discipline A Teenager ]
Rules To Build Healthy Habits
Rules are perhaps the practical tools to help children develop healthy personal habits. When you ask your child to spend less time on the computer and more time on physical activity, they may brush you off. But when you make it as a rule at home and have a consequence for breaking it, the results could be better.
12. Do your homework:
Your kids may be getting good grades at school. But they may be sluggish in doing their homework. If your teens need a lot of prodding to complete their homework every day, you need a rule. Tell them that they need to complete their homework before they can watch TV or go out with friends.
Set a time before which they need to finish their homework. That way, you will not have to worry about last-minute project submissions or assignments to work on.
13. Do not sink into that computer or smartphone:
Digital devices are a necessary evil and are addictive. Having rules in place can help prevent your child from getting addicted to a cell phone or a computer. If your child wants a cell phone, he must pay a weekly fee for it.
This will encourage them to save and earn the privilege to use the device. Also, restrict the use of the phone to a specific time.
Here are couple of examples of house rules for teenagers:
Cell phones cannot be used at the dinner table, or when someone is talking to them. They cannot use the phone after 9pm.
Have similar rules for the use of a computer. Set a time limit for using the computer. Also, restrict access to websites that are inappropriate for their age. Give them the laptop only after they have finished their homework.
[ Read: Essential Life Skills For Teens ]
14. Same with TV, video games and movies:
Have rules in place for when your child can watch TV, go to a movie or play video games. Also have rules on the kind of films, games or channels they can access. More importantly, limit the time they spend playing games or watching TV to an hour every day.
Rules That Build Life Skills
Your children are not going to live with you forever. Your teenager will soon go to college, which means he or she has to live all by himself, do things on his own and find ways to solve his problems. You cannot handhold your kids all their life. What you can do is prepare them for life. These are a few house rules for teenage sons and daughters that can help them develop skills that they will need to survive in the real world.
15. A bit of help is always welcome:
Chores are for everyone, and they need to be completed in time. That should be the general rule in the house. Give your teens a few things that he needs to do every day. It could be as simple as taking out the garbage, walking the dog, cleaning the table after dinner or doing the dishes or laundry on certain days.
There is no excuse for not doing the chores (unless they are sick or not at home). Remember that the idea of getting your children to help you with the chores is to teach them basic household management skills. So, on days they have a lot of homework or during exams, or when they have extracurricular activities, you can exempt them from doing the chores. But not always.
16. Cleanliness comes with practice:
If you make a mess, you clean it up. Your teens have to clean up their room every day, make their bed every morning, put clothes for laundry in the basket and not on the floor, clean up their closets and bathrooms too. If they take the milk carton out from the fridge, they need to put it back after using. They cannot leave their bag, shoes or clothes all around the house.
This rule makes it easier for them when they have to share space with a friend, a roommate, girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse.
17. You did it, then accept it:
Tell your teens that they need to own up their actions and accept the consequences without complaining, whining, crying, pouting or arguing with you. Blaming others for their deeds, trying to escape the consequences by screaming, crying and making others feel bad is manipulation, which is not a good trait.
Rules For A Healthy Social Life
Teenagers typically have an active social life. They like to spend more time with their friends than with you. Adolescence is also the time when boys and girls explore sexuality and start dating. Allow them to explore the social scene.
18. Going on a date has some rules:
As your teen attains puberty, his curiosity about relationships and opposite sex will be at an all-time high. Set rules that give your teen some freedom to mingle with the other sex, else he will hide his relationship with you, which is not healthy. Explain the difference between infatuation and love, talk about harmless flirting and rules about socializing with the opposite sex.
If your teen is nearing adulthood, talk about safe sex practices. Also, voice your concern about your teenage daughter’s safety and talk about issues like date rape and date drugs. Establish certain dating rules for teenage daughter:
- Dating is allowed only when they reach a certain age, say 16 years.
- They should be back home by a certain time when they go out on a date.
- They need to inform you where they are going on a date.
- Physical contact such as holding hands, kissing and sex is not allowed until they reach a certain age.
- Have a list of places they can go to and cannot go to.
Your children may not agree with these teenage rules at home, but make it clear that you are an adult, who have been through that stage in life, and therefore know more than him. Make him abide by the rules.
[ Read: Internet Safety Tips For Teens ]
19. Oh, that friend of yours..:
You may not like your teen’s choices when it comes to friends, and certainly, do not understand what they see in them. But you cannot choose your teen’s friends. Thankfully, you can influence their choice by guidance. You can also have rules on the amount of time your teenager would spend with his friends.
You can also teach them on how to deal with break-ups from their friends, and how to handle bullying.
20. Yelling will not fetch you anything:
Regulating his emotions is critical for your child. Managing emotions is not suppression of feelings or hiding them. It is about expressing them in a healthy way, without violence or aggression. Teenagers are emotionally vulnerable and need guidance on how to manage their overwhelming feelings.
Have rules in place that help them manage emotions such as anger, jealousy, and fear. For example, have a rule that if they are angry, they can take a five-minute break and talk about it later. But shouting or screaming, throwing things, hurling abuses or anything else that can hurt others is not acceptable.
The idea is to teach them that it is okay to go through negative emotions such as jealousy or anger. But it is important to express it in a healthy way, so as to not harm themselves or others.
21. Talk to us as we are always there for you:
Another important family rule for teenager is to talk if something is bothering them. Never go to bed angry. Tell your kids to talk to you. Most importantly, make them comfortable talking to you. Be their friend and listen to them without judging them. Only then will the rule of honest communication be effective. Other important rules to have for communication include:
- Do not interrupt when someone is speaking. You speak when it is your turn to do so.
- Listen to the other person with an open mind. Don’t judge them or determine if they are guilty or not without hearing them out.
- Try to understand the other person’s point of view, be empathetic.
By having these rules, you can teach your kids how to communicate without offending another person, a skill we all need for successful relationships.
Setting rules is your job, and you do it perfectly. But will your teens do their job of following the rules? You need to be clever to make them do what you want them to do.
[ Read: Why Do Teens Run Away ]
7 Tips To Enforce Rules Of The House For Teenagers
Enforcing house rules on teenagers is no easy task. Adolescents think that they do not need their parents’ help. The fact is that they need guidance and discipline. Here are some tips that can help you establish house rules:
- Discuss the rules and consequences with your kids. The agenda should be to bring clarity about what behaviors are acceptable and what are not.
- Be fair and practical when setting up consequences – your children should not feel like they are being singled out or being targeted.
- The consequence should be relevant to the rule that is being broken.
- Be consistent with the rules and the consequences. If a rule is broken, they have to face the consequences. No excuses.
- Be open to discussion but do not get into explaining yourself.
- Be open-minded and listen to them as long as they are not shouting or hurling abuses. That does not mean you should give into their demands. Understand their feelings and empathize, but make it clear that rules are rules.
- If you have a difficult teenager who keeps arguing about the consequences of breaking the rules, you may want to draw up a house rules contract. Make them read it, understand the consequences and get them to sign it. That way, they will not be able to argue with you.
Your children may not understand the need for all these rules. They may even hate you for it. But you love them. Otherwise, you would not go through the trouble of coming up with a list of home rules for your teenagers. Amidst all the rules, consequences, arguments, and fights, don’t forget to tell your child you love him. Show them, through your behavior that you care for them. They may or may not understand it now, but one day, they will surely thank you for helping them make the right choices.
How do you maintain discipline at your home? Talk to us about it here.
- Common Family Rules Parents Should Not Ignore
- Simple Steps To Deal With Your Teenage Son
- Tips For Preparing Teenagers For The Real World
- Helpful Tips To Deal With Teenager
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