Parents! Are Your Teenagers Misbehaving This Summer Break?

Summertime should be a fun time for vacations and outside activities. While this should be an ideal time for teenagers to kick back and relax, some teens use their free time to get into trouble. Because they have less supervision and structure in the summer, teens are more likely to experiment with drugs, alcohol, sex, and more likely to get in trouble with the law. There are also more traffic accidents with teen drivers during the summer months. What can parents do to keep their teens safe and address their misbehavior?

Hold Teens Accountable

Hold your teen accountable for breaking the rules you have set, or for breaking the law. Be clear about the rules you expect your teen to follow. Be clear about the consequences of breaking the rules. Most parents find that revoking privileges, for a set period of time, is the best way to establish consequences for bad behavior. If your teen drives, take the car keys. Take away their phone for a few days. Don’t allow them to go out with friends. Don’t give them spending money. Limit screen time, such as video games, and online activities. These are all things teens enjoy and don’t want to lose. And don’t back down. If you say no car for two weeks, stick to it. Even if it means you have to drive them places. If your teen whines and complains, and you give in, they will not learn to be accountable, and will likely do it again.
Be sure to tell your teen when you notice that they have behaved maturely and responsibly. Comment on the fact that they came home before curfew or completed their chores without being reminded. Reward good behavior with a little more freedom or increased privileges.

Ask Questions about Their Activities

Whether you’re at home, or you leave home for work, make sure you’re aware of what your teen is doing each day. Require them to tell you where they’re going, what they’re doing, who they will be with, and when they will return. If possible, check up on them once in a while to see if they are where they say they will be. Make them call and check in with you a couple of times a day. They may object to you “spying” on them but explain to them that it’s a question of trust. If they betray your trust and are not where they say they will be, then deny them the privilege of driving the car, or going out with friends. Tell them in advance what the consequences will be.

Expectations and Limits

Discuss with your teen what you expect from them this summer. They may need to attend summer school, or you may want them to work a part-time job. Tell them what chores they are expected to do each day. Put limits on tech time, such as video games, computers, and TV, so they’re not just in their room all day in front of a screen. Limit how many friends can come to the house and how often, especially when you’re not there. If your teen drives, decide if you want them to be out every night, or if you want to limit the number of times each week, they can take the car and go out.

Curfew

Curfew times should be based on the teen’s age and reliability. If they have shown that they are behaving responsibly, you can give them a later time. If they are going to an event that ends later in the evening, you can make an exception. But make it clear to your teen what will happen if they break their curfew. It may not seem like a big deal if your teen stays out late at night when there’s no school in the morning, but according to the National Safety Council traffic fatalities are three times higher at night.

Driving Rules

There is a higher accident rate with teen drivers during the summer months. And a higher accident rate when more teenage passengers are in the car. Talk to your teen about driving safely, and the consequences for getting a ticket or causing an accident. Set clear rules about how many friends they’re allowed to have in the car. Discuss texting and talking on the phone while driving. Let your teen know you will suspend their driving privileges and make them help to pay for any fines or repairs. Ask them to consider how they would feel if they caused an accident and someone was injured or killed.
Also, discuss what to do in an emergency. Make sure they know where insurance information is located in the car, and what to do in case of an accident or other emergency.
Talk about driving while intoxicated and the legal repercussions, as well as your own consequences. Many parents make a contract with their teens about drinking and driving. The contract says that the parents will go get the teen and bring them home - no questions asked – if the teen calls and admits they are in no condition to drive. This also includes riding home with someone who has been drinking or taking drugs. The next day, there can be a conversation about drug and alcohol use, but the focus is on bringing your child home safely.

Illegal Activities

If your teen is drinking, using drugs, or engaging in other criminal activities during the summer months, you will need to set stricter limits on their freedoms. They will test your limits, but don’t give in. Set clear rules and clear consequences, and then calmly enforce them. Don’t get drawn into arguments or debates on how fair it is. Tell your teen they knew the rules, they knew the consequences, they made their choices.
If your teen has been arrested, let them know you will continue to love and support them, but you can’t take away the legal consequences for their behavior. Violent behavior, destruction of property, or drug use are not acceptable – not to society, and not in your family.

When to Get Help

If your teen continues to break your rules and even break the law, then it’s time to seek professional help. You may see signs of substance abuse, or problems such as severe depression or anxiety. Maybe your teen has even become increasingly defiant, belligerent and disrespectful, or even violent.
Therapeutic Boarding Schools help troubled teens who have psychological, emotional, and behavioral problems. They also have academic programs to help teens get school credits. These facilities offer a safe, controlled environment, where teens are removed from the negative influence of peers or access to illegal substances or illegal activities. They provide individual, group, and family therapy, as well as medical care and outdoor activities.
Should you be interested in Liahona Academy and want to know more about how we can help your teenage son, please contact us today to learn more. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and help you determine if our program is a good fit for your teen’s needs.

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