Does parental monitoring make a difference?
Yes. Research shows that teens whose parents use effective monitoring practices are less likely to make poor decisions, such as having sex at an early age, smoking, drinking alcohol, being physically aggressive, or skipping school. Clear communication about your expectations is especially important. Research shows that teens who believe their parents disapprove of risky behaviors are less likely to choose those behaviors.
What can parents do to monitor their teens effectively?
The following are some steps you can take to monitor your teen and help protect him or her from risky behaviors:
- Talk with your teen about your rules and expectations, and explain the consequences for breaking the rules.
- Talk and listen to your teen often about how he or she feels and what he or she is thinking.
- Know who your teen’s friends are.
- Talk with our teen about the plans he or she has with friends, what he or she is doing after school, and where he or she will be going.
- Set expectations for when your teen will come home, and expect a call if he or she is going to be late.
- Ask whether an adult will be present when your teen is visiting a friend’s home.
- Get to know your teen’s boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Get to know the parents of your teen’s friends.
- Talk with your relatives, your neighbors, your teen’s teachers, and other adults who know your teen. Ask them to share what they observe about your teen’s behaviors, moods, or friends.
- Watch how your teen spends money.
- Keep track of how your teen spends time online, and talk about using the internet safely.
- Pay attention to your teen’s mood and behavior at home, and discuss any concerns you might have.
- If your teen does break a rule, enforce the consequences fairly and consistently.
- Make sure your teen knows how to contact you at all times.
How can parents be successful at monitoring their teens?
Parental monitoring works best when parents have good, open, and caring relationships with their teens. Teens are more willing to talk to their parents if they think their parents can be trusted, have useful advice to offer, and are open and available to listen and talk. Teens who are satisfied with their relationships with their parents tend to be more willing to follow the rules.
You can promote a caring relationship with your teen by listening, asking questions, asking for opinions, offering support and praise, and staying involved in your teen’s life.
How can busy parents monitor their teens?
As a parent, you face many competing demands on your time. Work or other activities can keep you away from home and limit monitoring of your teen. To help bridge this gap, you can use e-mails, text messages, and phone calls to check in with your teen. You can also seek the support of other family members, friends, and school staff to help monitor your teen’s activities and behavior. Teens who have a variety of adults supervising and monitoring their activities may be even less likely to engage in unhealthy and unsafe behaviors.