A parent’s instinct is to want to protect their children from threats of the outside world. Though there is a lot that you can shield your kids from as they get older, and become more exposed, there are things that you won’t be able to protect them from. This is when good judgment and effective decision making come in. As they enter their teen years and learn more about the realities of life, a solid foundation of morals, values, and understanding take effect. Essentially, communicating with your teens about common dangers can help reduce the likelihood that they make poor decisions. Below is further advice.
Understand Teen Risk Taking
Prior to talking with your child, you should first set realistic expectations. Though parents would hope that their teens won’t ever contemplate or indulge in risky behaviors, the fact is they’re learning to find their own identities and their place in the social environment amongst their peers. This may often result in them testing the waters to see what their and your limits are. Therefore, keep realistic expectations about your teen and their willingness or lack thereof to take risks.
Talk with Your Teen
Once you understand that your teen is not going to represent “perfect” behaviors at all times, you’re ready to have a conversation with them about coming of age and the peer pressures, risks, and dangers that they could be exposed to. Below, are some things you can discuss to help your teen be a more effective decision maker.
Educate them on the Risks
Talk with your teenager about the potential pressures, risks, and dangers out there that they could be exposed to. Lack of knowledge is one of the most common reasons teens end up in risky situations. By informing them of the threats out there, they are better prepared to recognize it and from there, formulate an opinion and make a final decision. Though there are several things you want to discuss with your teen, some topics that may come to mind include:
Drugs and Alcohol – Unfortunately, access to drugs and alcohol for teens is much easier than you may have realized. Talking with your child about the dangers of using drugs or alcohol including the short and long-term impact it can have on their bodies, brains, and relationships.
Responsible Driving – For parents of teens that are at driving age, the discussion of being a responsible driver must be had. Discuss the importance of following traffic laws, consider a passenger limit, and a curfew as well. Also talk about limiting distractions like loud music, cell phones, and more. Lastly, discuss the dangers in drinking and driving. If your teen is drinking already, a low cost interlock system installed on the car can prevent them from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Relationships and Sex – Though thinking about your kid being intimate or sexually active may be hard to picture, it is imperative that you have this discussion. Not only should you discuss “the birds and the bees”, but you should also communicate the health risks that come with or without protection. Lastly, ensure that you have a general talk with them about relationships and signs of a toxic one.
Obviously, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to your teens and the many dangers that could be presented to them. Whichever topics you wish to discuss, the important thing to remember is to speak in a calm tone from a loving place. By creating an environment where your teen feels that they can openly communicate with you, it will essentially help them to make more effective decisions and come to you when they’re not sure. Other than that, setting healthy boundaries and encouraging your child to keep their independence will help keep them on the straight and narrow when temptations threaten to take them down another path.