How to sleep more and worry less
As our teens mature, we tend to want to tighten up the reins rather than let them out. In reality, if we allow our teens to begin to set their own boundaries regarding curfew, we give them the opportunity to learn many valuable life lessons. In a few years, they will be making all their own decisions, so why not let them practice while they have the safety net of loving parents? For starters, try allowing your teen to choose their curfew. Before you shout, “She’s crazy!” allow me to explain. Giving your teen this control really takes the burden from you, allowing you to sleep more and worry less.
Here is how it works. First have a discussion with your teen telling him/her that you want to give them some control of their lives, and you would like them to set their own curfew. Explain that you will go to bed at your normal time and set your alarm for the time that they have told you they would be home. Explain that their part is to let you know where they are and who they are with, and to call you if anything changes regarding those two things. Also, explain that you trust them with this new control and that you would like to agree that if they are not home when the alarm goes off, you will assume that they are in the ditch needing help and you will call the police to find them. Mornings offer another opportunity to begin to set your limits and turn control over to your teen. Let your teen know that you also will not be waking them nor reminding them about their morning routines or daily obligations. You might need to take a trip together to purchase an alarm clock for them if you have served that purpose in their life. When setting a clear limit (lovingly letting our child know what we will or will not do), we role model the powerful skill of taking care of ourselves and making good choices. For instance, if you are the morning chef in your home, you might say something like, “I will be making breakfast at 7 a.m. I hope to see you at the table, but if not, feel free to fend for yourself. I hope you can find enough to eat to hold you until lunch.” If you are their ride to school, you might add, “I will be leaving at 7:30 a.m.” The danger here is not following through. You might actually have to let them be hungry or leave without them, but you won’t have to do it often before your teens are taking care of themselves, as you have been such a great role model.
Begin to set your limits in a kind and firm way; and sleep well and worry less!
Patty Schaffner is on YouthZone’s Pals program staff.
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