The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Teenagers

The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Teenagers mum-bo-jumbo.comSetting boundaries with my 16 year old step daughter has been instrumental to our relationship and more importantly, to her as she develops into a young woman.

My step daughter came to live with us permanently a little over three years ago. This was before I had biological children of my own. Little did I realise how different life would be with a teenager in the house and how important setting boundaries would be.

Admittedly, I feel very blessed. My step daughter is a well adjusted teenager who has turned her life around. She is focused, motivated, works hard at school and even has a part time job. She knows the difference between right and wrong, is caring, respectful and helpful.

In saying that, it doesn’t mean she hasn’t experienced the normal teenage issues of today. There has been instances of cyber bullying, questions about sex and birth control, and she has even indicated her interest in wanting to experiment with alcohol.

I am extremely thankful that she is coming to me with questions about these issues rather than going behind my back. I have put this down to the mutual trust and respect we have for one another simply through setting boundaries.

Setting Boundaries – Why Teens Need Them

Teenagers are at an awkward age. They are not quite kids and as much as they like to think they are, they are not quite adults either. Their brains are still developing, their hormones are raging and they are at an age of wanting to experiment. This three way combination can potentially lead to risky behaviour and is the main reason for setting boundaries with teenagers – to keep them safe, happy and healthy.

How to Set Boundaries for Teens

Teens may become defiant when it comes to setting boundaries. They are at an age where they feel they are old enough to have the freedom to do as they wish. If you have a strong relationship with your teen, then most will understand that you are only looking out for their best interests.

It is important you sit down with your teen and have a mature conversation with them about what behaviour you expect and why. Try not to dictate or lecture them, and make sure you take the time to listen to what your teen has to say.

You may need to be prepared to negotiate but make sure when you are setting boundaries, the expectations are very clear to everyone involved. By involving your teen in the discussion is more likely to gain respect when it comes to the rules that have been set.

The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Teens

What Boundaries Should be Set

There are many boundaries you can set for your teen however here are some of the more common “rules” that households set for their teens. Keep in mind that every situation is different so it is a case by case basis. Make sure you are setting boundaries that work for you and your family.

  • Don’t allow our teens to have friends over if you will not be home
  • Limit the days or hours they are allowed online for social networking
  • Set a curfew. Consider making a weekend curfew later than you would on a school night
  • If your teen is going to a party, make sure there will be adult supervision
  • You don’t need to know every movement your teen makes but you should know where they are, who they are with and when they will be home
  • Limit socialising on school nights
  • Make sure they go out with a fully charged mobile (cell) phone so they can contact you at any time

The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Teenagers

Disciplining Teens

Disciplining teens is much harder than setting boundaries. If your teen doesn’t follow through on their commitment to the rules you have all agreed to, the most important thing is to follow through on disciplinary action. No matter what.

This could be anything from grounding them, banning them from TV, computer or the telephone, or even withholding their allowance. You need to teach them that their behaviour was unacceptable and discuss with them how it didn’t fall within your agreed boundaries.


The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Teenagers

What ever disciplinary action you decide to take, ensure the punishment suits the crime and that the length of time is appropriate. Too harsh, they are likely to rebel against you. Too weak, they may think it is acceptable to do again.

Disciplining teens is a balancing act but over time, if you show trust and respect towards your teen, they will show the same in return.

How do you set boundaries for your teen? What tips can you share when it comes to balancing boundaries and discipline?

Top Tip: For more information about setting boundaries for teens, please visit 

Note: The information provided in this post isn’t professional advice. They are simply lessons learned from my own experiences. 

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  1. Thanks so much for sharing this at the Say G’day Linky Party. I am featuring you this week!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz
    Natasha in Oz invites you to read their latest post: Say G’Day Linky Party {114} ~ THE Blog Hop for Bloggers From All Around the Globe!My Profile

  2. Some really interesting points, I’m not quite there with my children, but it wont be long at all, so thinking about how we will handle life with teen is a really good thing for me.

  3. I have a few years until I need to worry about this BUT I think a proactive approach is really important, so have started to set the stage. For me, consistency is the key.
    Leah – Kid Bucket List invites you to read their latest post: Yabby Fishing : A Short Tutorial On How To Catch a Big OneMy Profile

  4. I could not agree with you more. Kids of ALL ages need boundaries, they crave them. Teens need and want them too, they just don’t know it all of the time. When I deal with my teen and she disagrees I state what I want and leave it at that. For instance time to come home, I will say on a school night 9:30 and she will want 10, I will state no 9:30 and leave it at that. You got it, 9:30 comes aground and there she is walking in the door.

    As for going somewhere to a party, mine just doesn’t do that as she has running and doesn’t want to and or can’t afford to be where there may be drinking. On the rare occasion that she does go, I drop her and make sure there are adults, she of course doesn’t like it but oh well… Mum, not friend :)
    BritishMumUSA invites you to read their latest post: We Own a HedgehogMy Profile

  5. Great post Kelly.

    I have a house of two teens and one young adult and even the young adult has rules he’s got to abide by. Just because he’s 21 doesn’t mean he knows better. I think setting boundaries and discipline is important. Like the suggestions you shared we have those as well and they are there for a reason.

    During the holiday break my daughter wanted to go out with her friend. It was raining and late so I told her she couldn’t go. Of course she stormed off. The next morning the first thing she told me was her friend was involved in a car accident…she realized she could have been in the car.

    It’s like I told her, I’m not trying to keep her from having fun, I just want her to be safe.

    As far as discipline goes, they know I mean business. I’m not a strict parent but they know not to break a rule. I told them there are no statues of limitation here. Anything I find out they do will be subject to discipline no matter how long ago it happened :). You would think they’d move out as soon as they turned 18 and 21 but they’re still here. :)

    Thanks for sharing this post. Gladly passing it on.
    Corina Ramos invites you to read their latest post: Seven Important Safety Tips To Remember While You’re Out ShoppingMy Profile

    • Wow. I hope your daughter’s friend was ok, Corina! Thanks so much for your feedback and for sharing, it’s reassuring to know I am on the right track

  6. It’s so difficult getting the balance right I find. I try to give my teen the freedom he craves but keep him safe at the same time but I often sound like I’m just being mean. #letkidsbekids
    Ali @ Mum in a Nutshell invites you to read their latest post: Wicked WednesdayMy Profile

    • The balance is really difficult, isn’t it Ali? Especially when you want to show your teen you trust them but can’t bear to think what could happen if you allow too much freedom! I simply try to weigh up the pros and cons, discuss them with my husband and talk them over with my step daughter. I am sure she’ll understand one day where we were coming from!

  7. I don’t have any teens, but I am not looking forward to that period of time. It appears to be such a delicate balancing act. These sound like some great tips.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids
    Karen bell invites you to read their latest post: Christmas flower pot craftsMy Profile

  8. Great post and I will need to bookmark this when my two tots grow up and become teenagers. Such a hard fine line to give them freedom and protect them at the same time. So scary. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. Happy Holidays #sharewithme
    Jenny invites you to read their latest post: Moments with my childrenMy Profile

    • Hi Jenny, thanks for popping by. When it comes to teenagers, there certainly is a fine line between balance, allowing too much freedom and not giving them enough! Tough times. Thanks again

  9. I have two awesome teen girls and thanks to keeping the line of communication open and letting them discuss anything they need to (sometimes I had to take a big deep breath before I said a word) they now probably overshare, but that is how it needs to be. I have also been quite generous in what I let them do, whilst making it very clear that the punishment for stepping in to unacceptable territory will be very harsh. It has worked so well so far, they are intelligent, get good results at school and uni are drug free and get to have fun. They have earnt my trust and been rewarded with me saying yes to their requests almost always. xx N
    Niki @ Wonderfully Women invites you to read their latest post: Simple Solutions For Puffy EyesMy Profile

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Niki! It’s wonderful to hear that by keeping the communication channels open has led to two wonderfully level headed girls!


  1. […] I trusted my step daughter entirely and had no reason to question her. She had never done anything to make me question her so why would I start now? I thought we had a close relationship. I couldn’t understand why she felt she had to lie to me once, let alone hundreds of times? Why would she take advantage of my trust like that? She had no need to. I was mortified at my own ignorance particularly after recently writing a post about The Importance of Setting Boundaries for Teenagers. […]

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