No one can compare reading a child’s journal to accessing their conversations online. The Internet is a different paradigm. A natural part of adolescence is the desire for more privacy. At the same time, teenagers also need your support in making good decisions. Trust is the key to find the balance between your need to know what’s going on and your child’s need for privacy.
It is necessary to know that every teen is different. Figure out where yours needs limits, so that you do not cross the line between monitoring and spying on your child.
Some children, and especially teens, need a lot of structure to be successful; others don’t. Depending on your teen’s routine and personality, you might consider setting boundaries which spell out the following;
- When they have to do homework
- What they can and can’t do after school
- When they can use the computer and what they can use it for
- When and why they can use a car and ride in one
- When they need to be home at night on weekends
- When and how long they can use the phone
- What kinds of parties they can go to and who they can go with
Most of the times mentioned above, it is always a prime time to experiment with alcohol and drugs. Having an adult around such hours is thus one of the most effective ways of preventing drug use.
Parent Trust and Teen Privacy
Understand that as your child grows older, they need more privacy, personal, and psychological space. If your child wants more privacy and time alone, it does not necessarily mean that they have something to hide. Secrecy goes along with independence as a natural part of adolescence. However, extreme secrecy becomes a red flag.
Respecting Your Child’s Privacy
Ask yourself what you exactly need to know to help you work out where the boundary is with your child’s privacy. Below are some practical ways on how not to cross the line on privacy;
- Knock before entering their rooms
- Check if the child wants you to be there when they see the doctor.
- Ask before you can look or get things out of their school bags
Discuss privacy with your child, and as well set some ground rules, working out some boundaries which change as your child grows. Talk about situations you need to cross the agreed boundaries especially when you are anxious that something could be wrong with your child.
Core Rules of Monitoring
- Know the whereabouts of your child always, both virtually and physically
You can keep tabs on your kid’s Internet use by the use of web browser software and tools designed to block certain sites. However, ensure they know you are doing this out of love, not because you do not trust them.
- Know the online and off friends your child is hanging out with.
While at this, know the parents to their friends as well. These friendships with their parents will let you discuss your children as well as any recent incidents out or in school.
- Find out how your child spends their day
Look out for something you can talk about with your child during dinner. Know what they are up to the next day, or how they spend their day.
- Limit the time spent by your child without adult supervision
After-school hours are known to be a dangerous time for teens and tweens to be on their own. Find out about after-school programs where you or another adult cannot be home for your child.
- Learn the technology used by your child, and use it
Text message, instant message, email, and social networking sites are great ways of checking in with your child. You will find out who they’re with, where they are, and what they’re up to.
What to Avoid as You Monitor Your Child
- Looking at things in their room or drawers
- Listening to their telephone conversations
- Reading their diary or checking email accounts
- Communicating or ‘friending’ him on social media without his will
- Often calling his mobile claiming to check on him all the time.
The best monitoring is done low key, basing on trust and staying connected with your child. There is a high chance of your child sharing what they are up to when you have good everyday communication and connections.
If you have breached your child’s trust, you and your child need to rebuild trust over time. Strategies such as grounding; ban social activities for some time, withdrawal of privileges and non-essential lifts, as well as stopping your child’s pocket money may work.
Negotiate practical ways your child will earn back your trust as well. Tell them that you still love them even though you’re disappointed in their behavior. Help them bounce back and learn from their mistakes.
No foolproof way can prevent your child from getting into trouble exists. Respect your children and give them some degree of privacy; it will help you in forging a much stronger relationship with them on mutual trust. However, proper monitoring without crossing the line will work instead of them seeing you as an evil dictator they must work to avoid.