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  • Continuous Structure

  • Keep StructureTeenagers are going to find something to do to separate from you and the family. This is their job developmentally. Your task is to ensure that what they choose to do to assert their individuality is positive. This is where the importance of structure comes in.

    Good or bad, your teenager will need to involve themselves in activities outside of the family realm. If they have free time, they are going to find a way to fill it. This is why summer vacation is a prime time for teenagers to get into trouble.

    As parents, you want to make sure your teenagers don't fill their free time with unhealthy outlets like alcohol, drugs, sex and other risk behaviors. Kim Waggoner, LICSW, says that the best way to do this is to keep their lives structured with things like academics, sports, after-school activities, summer jobs and camps. Through these activities, your teenager will be able to assert their independence, but do so in a healthy way.

    Of course, your teenager is going to have free time, which is okay. However, parental vigilance is essential. If the family is not paying attention, teenagers are likely to push the limits. Therefore, let them know that you are aware of their comings and goings, and though they may be out in the world without you, there is still structure and rules in their lives.

    Has Your Teen Crossed the Line?

    Every teenager is going to make mistakes. That's normal. However, when mistakes turn into frequent, dramatic, high-risk behaviors and complete disregard for rules, you may need to seek counsel.

    Bradley Hospital can help. Call us anytime: 401-434-3400, ext. 364. Bradley experts can do a confidential and thorough evaluation to help you get advice and answers to your questions. We are dedicated to healing the hearts and minds of children and their families.