8 Keys to Giving More Independence to Teenage Children

Adolescence is a critical period when kids begin to want more independence. But do you know how to offer it without overstepping limits?
8 Keys to Giving More Independence to Teenage Children

Last update: 07 September, 2021

When children reach adolescence, parents wonder how to give them more independence without leaving certain limits behind. Everyone knows that at this stage, you can’t treat your kids like little children. However, you can’t treat them like full-grown adults either. Just the same, they still need affection, patience, parental guidance, and understanding in order to avoid taking unnecessary risks.

Although we may not like the idea, parents must be clear that at this age, several dangers lurk. Therefore, we must find a way to accompany them with freedom but without ceasing to take care of them.

Achieving this balance won’t be easy, so we’ll give you some useful tips on the subject. Don’t miss out!

Giving independence to children: Tips for setting limits for teenagers

A father and his teenage son having an argument.

Arguments with our teenagers are part of the norm when it comes to any deep bonding relationship. Therefore, we shouldn’t strive to avoid them. Rather, we should try to understand our child’s position and find a way to resolve disputes.

It’s important for us to express how we feel without making judgments against our teenagers. And, at the same time, we should avoid direct confrontation. We can use the negotiation strategy to involve them in finding a solution to the problem. But what can we do to get him to understand and accept the boundaries we set?

Set limits before they’re needed

We can provide independence to our children even when we set limits and explain the consequences of violating them. Ideally, this should be done before it happens.

If we try to set limits after an argument or when the mood in the house isn’t appropriate, they’ll lose their effect. That’s why it’s important to be prepared and to set them in advance.

Be very specific

Rules and limits need to be clear and concise. We must tell our children exactly what we expect from them in the short and long term. This way, we’ll avoid any confusion and increase the likelihood of them following these guidelines.

Adjust our communication to their stage of development

As parents, we have to adapt our way of communicating to the level of understanding of our children. Talking to a 13-year-old isn’t the same as talking to an 18-year-old, even if they live in the same house. This depends on their level of development and maturity.

We have to explain to our children the reasons for the rules we’ve established and encourage their participation in the conversation so that they can give us their point of view. This way, they’ll know what consequences will follow if they commit any irresponsible action. What’s more, they’ll have the possibility of dialoguing with us in order to find a proper balance.

Don’t punish your teen but limit privileges in a logical way

Giving our children independence doesn’t mean that when they act inappropriately there won’t be any consequences. What we need to make clear is that certain behaviors on their part will bring about certain actions on our part.

We must avoid generalizing it to all contexts, so as not to shift the focus of attention on what we want to reaffirm.

Keys to giving more independence to adolescent children

How can you give more independence to teenagers in a healthy way? Here are some keys:

Be clear about your child’s maturity level

Not all young people mature at the same time. Therefore, the independence you give your child will depend on their level of maturity and not on how old they are. As a parent, your know better than anyone else what things you can allow them to do and what things you still can’t.

Take it one step at a time

Independence is a benefit that’s acquired little by little, and never all at once. It’s important to instill certain responsibilities in your child from the time they’re young. That way, they gradually achieve greater independence. Then, when they reach adolescence, that autonomy will increase as part of a natural process.

Negotiate with them

It’s important to make it clear to your child that as they show the ability to fulfill their responsibilities, they’ll have more and more freedom. For example, if you set a curfew regarding when they have to be back from hanging out with friends and they break curfew several days in a row, your child will lose the possibility of going out alone from that time on.

Trust your child

During adolescence, it’s essential that you establish a bond of trust with your child because, without it, none of this will work. Your adolescent must be clear about the importance of knowing how to earn this privilege and maintain it over time.

Learning from failures and mistakes

Adolescents, like adults, have the right to make mistakes and learn from them. We shouldn’t expect them to do everything perfectly, and it’s important to reinforce this idea whenever necessary.

Have good communication

Without communication, there’s no dialogue. If your child doesn’t know what you expect from them, they’ll never be able to meet those expectations. For this reason, you must ensure good communication in your family, so that you can clearly explain to them what you want from them.

Always enforce the rules

You need to be strict when enforcing the rules because if you sometimes let things slide, you’ll cause your boundaries to lose their educational function.

Don’t try to control your child, just be their guide

For healthy development to occur, parents need to act as guides for their teenagers. This will allow you to guide their path without controlling them or smothering them in the process.

A mother having a pleasant conversation with her teenage son.

Conclusions regarding giving more independence to adolescent children

As you’ve already seen, giving more independence to children isn’t an easy task, but it is possible. We’ve given you some tips on how to establish limits and keys to giving them independence without leaving them adrift.

It’s clear that young people need more and more freedom, but it’s important to teach them how to go about it without putting their health or their lives at risk. Parents should be very attentive to their teenagers and always help them with patience, affection, trust, and lots of love.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Lillo Espinosa, J. L. (2004). Crecimiento y comportamiento en la adolescencia. Revista de la Asociación Española de Neuropsiquiatría, (90), 57-71.
  • Vallet, M. (2006). Cómo educar a nuestros adolescentes: un esfuerzo que merece la pena. WK Educación.
  • Moreno, A. (2016). La adolescencia. Editorial UOC.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.