Some people think risk taking is normal for teens as a way to learn about themselves and gain their own identity. Unfortunately, some risk taking can be detrimental to your teen’s life including, but not limited to, using drugs, drinking and driving, or having unprotected premarital sex. While teens may be more likely to exhibit this type of behavior, these eight tips for parents of risk-taking teenagers might help you handle your teen and their actions in a productive manner.
1. Understand the role you play in your teen’s life. You’re not supposed to be your teen’s best friend. That day may come in the future, but your job is to parent them and that’s not always an easy job.
2. Let your teenager know you love them. Probably the most important thing to consider when your teen is taking risks is that they still need your love. They may not act like they need your love but that may be the one thing they need the most.
3. Keep the lines of communication open. No matter how much you may want to send them to military camp or to visit a long-lost relative, it’s important to keep talking to them on a daily basis. Ask them questions that will elicit a response and listen to what they have to say. Let them know you’re available to talk if they need you.
4. Set boundaries and limits then discuss possible consequences for breaking them. Your teen may balk at these, but they really do want and need them. Help them understand that the limits are being given to protect them, not control them. Once the boundaries and limits are set, expect your teen to abide by them and you’ll want to consistently dole out consequences if needed.
5. Encourage them to find positive ways to handle stress. It’s common for teens to face some pressure and anxiety with changes in their body, relationships, possible work, and school. Help them to learn to handle stress by modeling positive ways to them.
6. Pay attention to what your teens are doing. While teens may be tempted to try the usual drugs and alcohol, some teens will be tempted by over-the-counter substances, your prescriptions, or non-medicines such as felt-tip markers, spray paint, cleaning fluids, or glue to get high.
7. Ask your teen to let you know where they’re going, who they’ll be with, and to call in if their plans change. Know their friends so you’re aware of the influence they may have over your teen. Verify parties they might attend will be supervised. Asking them to check in with you and checking up on them helps your teen know you care and you’re concerned about their health and well-being.
8. Know the problems your teen may face and the red flags associated with them: depression, problems at school, change in personality, change of eating habits, changes in grades, anger, staying out until all hours, lying to you, or hurting themselves. These are common ways your teen may inadvertently alert you to problems.
Teens will continue to have brain growth until they reach about twenty-five years of age. During this time, it’s not unlikely teens will make poor decisions. They may even take unhealthy risks until they reach that age. By following these eight tips for parents of risk-taking teenagers, you may be able to help them make better, less risky choices.