Most often, when we think of implementing structure into our children’s lives, it is because we have a newborn that needs a feeding schedule, a toddler that needs a nap schedule, or a child that needs an activity schedule. When children become teens, they are often left to implement their own schedules. And yes, they are on the verge of asserting their independence so that it can be an additional challenge. However, not implementing structure for them can be counterproductive and leave them “real world unready.” Therefore, parents should establish some boundaries, rules, and structure for their teens to create life-long success habits.
Adolescence is a period of massive changes in all areas of development. During this time, puberty triggers the neural systems, and the hypothalamus sends signals to the body to produce certain hormones. This, along with an underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex, makes for intense emotions and impulsive behaviors. Not to mention how wacky sleep patterns become, all contributing to testing limits and parental frustration. However, leaving teens to their own devices will most likely lead to more impulsive decisions and, ultimately, trouble. Parents must remember that teens don’t have the cognitive control to resist temptations, and it’s better to steer them towards healthy, positive risks than to do nothing at all.
Believe it or not, teens need and want structure. Since they are already dealing with multiple changes in their bodies and minds, having boundaries in place gives them a sense of security. Clear limits and structure can keep riskier behaviors at bay, especially when parents take the time to discuss these things ahead of time with their teens. And although we may experience some push back, the life lessons of time management, self-control, and responsibility will ultimately win out. And to top it off, when everyone is on board, confusion and frustration are reduced making relationships stronger while trust is cultivated. So as teens have rules imposed on them, they learn to set boundaries for themselves, thereby increasing their self-control.
To help parents feel confident putting structure and boundaries in place, our Martial Arts program provides methods that can be used in and out of the classroom. In-classroom tactics set boundaries while also allowing some freedom of choices, and an easy to implement Parenting Tips curriculum provides parents with guidance. The strategies used to assist parents in being attuned to their teen’s ever-changing mood, connecting with them on a more mature level, prompting them to make better decisions, and consistently implementing structure and boundaries, while remaining patient through the process.
As teens travel the pathway to becoming responsible young adults, parents can rest assure that routines and boundaries are powerful, positive influences. And while teens may resist some, they ultimately understand that their route to more freedom comes from the development of trust, responsibility, and accountability. When parents enforce structure on their teens, they eventually learn to manage a 24-hour day independently, which leads to lifelong habits of success.
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Author: Jennifer Salama of Skillz Worldwide.
Jennifer is a 4th-degree black belt and has been training in martial arts since 2001. She has a Masters Degree in Child Psychology and has embraced the SKILLZ curriculum because of its focus on child development and using martial arts as a vehicle to develop the child as a whole.