Monitoring Your Teens

Saturday, 07 February 2009 12:37

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Normal 0 false false false EN-CARRIBEAN X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Children can’t always be counted on to do the right thing. Just think back to your own teenage years.  Many of us made choices that make us cringe today, and we’re thankful that we escaped serious harm. Those experiences should be a potent reminder that it’s always good to trust your teens but also to verify what they’ve told you. This is where monitoring comes in.

Monitoring is keeping tabs on your teenagers. It includes knowing where they are, whom they are with, what they are doing and when they will be home. It means asking questions, having your teens check in with you regularly, and checking up on them as well. It’s true that some teens will resent being monitored, but they generally understand and respect it, especially in the long-term. Your job as a parent is to communicate and be respectful.  Here are some tips:

  • Let your teens know you will be monitoring so they know what to expect. If you suspect your teen is getting into trouble, make occasional surprise visits to confirm your teen is where he or she is actually supposed to be. And if they say that they will be over at a friend, be sure to call the friend’s house to confirm. Let your teen know that you may do this from time to time.
  • Have a standing rule of “no parents, no party” so that your teen understand he/she is not allowed at any party without adult supervision.
  • Check in on your teens at home as well. Monitor your medicine cabinet to see if your teens have been using your prescription or over-the-counter drugs and if you keep alcoholic beverages at home, make sure that they aren’t drinking any.
  • Require your teens to check in with you when they get home at night. This serves as a deterrent to alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use because your teens know they will have to say goodnight. It also gives you an opportunity to check for signs of use, such as odors on clothing.

How much monitoring is enough? Many parents feel that they’re doing the right level of monitoring for their teen. But there are times when it may need to be increased. Below is some advice to help determine when you need to be doing more:

  • When there are changes in your teen’s friends, behaviors, attitudes, grades or other signs that something is going on.
  • When your teen is going through a transition, such as starting a new school, living in a new neighborhood, or starting to drive.
  • When your teen has already gotten into some minor trouble.
  • If your teen seems highly susceptible to peer pressure, lacks strong coping skills or suffers from anxiety or depression.
  • If your teen has a high need for stimulation, novelty and excitement and becomes bored easily. These “sensation-seekers” are more likely to use illicit drugs.

If you strongly suspect something is going on, you should engage in more monitoring, such as searching their room, school bag, cell phone records or online activity. If you’re worried about violating your teen’s privacy, remember that your first responsibility is to keep your teen safe. Privacy is important but it has limits. Set some ground rules before problems arise so that your teen knows what to expect. If appropriate, give your teen an opportunity to explain before taking a more hands-on approach.

www.drugfree.org as used as a reference for October’s articles.