Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back to School: Setting Rules Before the School Year Begins

Before teens begin to prepare for the new school year, it is important to set boundaries beforehand so they know what is expected of them as they continue on with their high school studies.

Curfew: A specific curfew should be set on school nights and weekends, especially if there are tests involved or they haven’t caught up with homework assignments, reports, or papers. If the teen does go out with friends, the parent should be told where he or she is going, and who will be accompanying them.

Homework: A certain amount of time should be allotted to homework and studying. No TV, video games, music, telephone conversations, or any other distraction should be present when teens study and/or work on their homework assignments.

After-School Employment: There are some teens who would like to earn extra cash, and working after school for a few hours a day might be considered. However, if it interferes with school work, or they begin putting in too much overtime, an alternative arrangement has to be made so that high school studies come before anything else.

Sleepovers: If your teen asks to stay at a friend’s house on the weekend, a curfew should be set in place and the parents of the other teen should be informed as well. In addition, unless a parent is present, it is recommended that your teen not be allowed to spend the night.

Report Cards: If a teen brings home a report card that signifies he or she is not doing well in all subjects, perhaps it would be time to discuss the reasons why the grades are low and find ways they can be improved. In the course of the discussion, perhaps your teen will open up and tell you about a certain problem or issue.

The teen years are fraught with self-image problems, physical and emotional problems, and anger and frustration. It is recommended that parents keep the lines of communication open with their teens. To let them know they understand and will always be available to listen or give advice if asked.

Remembering what it was like being a teenager, some may say it was great while others may say “it was no picnic.” Either way, teens need to feel safe, yet have room to breathe and grow. Though teens would never admit that parameters are a good thing, preparing and setting boundaries for the new school year is one way in which parents can help.

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