On many occasions, with the arrival of adolescence mothers and many fathers tend to relax the control over their children because they consider that this is no longer as necessary as when they were younger. However, like affection, the establishment of limits continues to be very important during adolescence, and when these are missing, it is likely that boys and girls feel disoriented and think that their parents are no longer interested in them. On the other hand, the absence of control, standards and limits, is closely related to the emergence of some behavior problems such as anti-social and criminal behavior or the abusive consumption of drugs and alcohol. Here are some suggestions on rules and limits.
1. The limits must be clear, reasoned and justified
It is very important that we impose not authoritatively the boundaries and norms that regulate family life and the behavior of our children, both at home and outside. You should talk to them, know their point of view, explain the reasons for a particular rule, and change it when we are convinced that it is unfair. Involving children in the decision-making regarding the limits does not mean to surrender parental authority, but it will be a way to recognize that they are growing and maturing, and that they have the right to participate in decisions that affect them.
2. We must be flexible
You have to adjust the rules and limits to the needs and capabilities of your children as they are becoming older. The limits necessary for a child and a 10-year-old girl should not be the same as for a boy of 13, and less still if you have a 15 year old son or daughter. Excessive control is as bad as its absence, so we must gradually give them more freedom to act and make decisions.
3. We must be coherent and consistent in terms of the limits
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed or tired and we allow some behavior in our children that, at another time, we do not tolerate. But it is important that we maintain standards and limits, and sanctions against non-compliance, regardless of our state of mind. It is also important that there is an agreement between the parents when it comes to setting limits and punishments. Although sometimes we aren’t in accordance with our partner, we should resolve our differences in private and show the same opinion to our children.
4. If standards are not met, punish
Firstly, it is suitable to remain calm and not react in an emotional way. Then we should calmly listen to the justification given by our children. Finally, there will be times in which it will be convenient to punish his conduct. It is important that the children understand that it is their behavior which is getting rejected and not them. However, there may be alternatives to punishment, and show them how disappointed we are about their behavior or lack of confidence that we have toward them. Another possibility is not to punish them and make them experience the consequences of their mistakes.