How to Know When Your Teen is Ready for More Freedom

Give Your Teen a Chance to Behave Responsibly

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Increasing a teen's responsibilities and privileges are important ways to earn more freedom and show maturity.. Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

It’s important to give your teen opportunities to practice behaving responsibly. If you always do everything for your teen, he won’t learn the skills he needs to be independent. Give your teen enough freedom to help him learn to behave responsibly.

For example, if you nag your teen to get his homework done each night, he’ll learn to do it only to get you to stop nagging. As an adult, when you aren’t there to nag him to take care of his responsibilities, he may struggle to get things down on his own.

Establish rules and then follow through with consequences when those rules get broken. Don’t spend a lot of energy trying to prevent your child from breaking your rules. Instead, give him some freedom to make mistakes on his own.

For example, a parent who invests 30 minutes each morning trying to drag a teen out of bed may be robbing the child of a chance to learn how to get himself up each morning. As an adult, he may struggle to get himself up for work when there’s no one there to wake him up repeatedly.

Set your teen up for success. Give him the tools he needs to begin behaving responsibly and then provide opportunities for him to practice using the tools you’ve given him.

Approach Independence in Stages

Increase your child’s freedom in small increments based on his ability to show you that he can handle more responsibility. If you do everything for him until he moves out of the house, you’ll be setting him up for failure.

On the other hand, if you give him too much freedom too soon, he likely won’t be able to handle it.

How to Use Discipline to Teach Life Lessons

If your child is following the rules and showing that he can handle independence, start increasing his privileges and responsibilities slowly. Some ideas to offer more freedom include allowing your teen to:

  • Establish his own bedtime
  • Stay out later at night
  • Choose when to do his chores
  • Choose when to do his homework
  • Have more freedom with his electronics
  • Experience more freedom with friends
  • Go places unsupervised
  • Get a part-time job
  • Learn how to drive

Remove Privileges When Necessary

If your teen struggles to follow the rules and make healthy choices on his own, give him less freedom and less responsibilities. Remove privileges when necessary.

8 Ways to Discipline Teens

Let your teen’s behavior show you how much responsibility he’s ready for.  There may be times where your teen’s behavior seems to regress and at other times, it will likely show great progress.

As your teen enters new developmental phases, it’s likely that his behaviors will fluctuate. Adjust your rules and consequences according to what your teen’s behavior shows you about his ability to handle freedom and extra responsibilities.

Establish a behavior contract that will help your teen understand your expectations. Make it clear to your teen how you will know when he’s ready for additional freedom and what the consequences will be if he doesn’t meet your expectations.

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