Activities to Reinforce Healthy Boundaries in Teenagers

By Erica Loop
Help your teen to understand your rules.
Help your teen to understand your rules.

While the boundaries that you set may differ from those that her BFF's parent creates, enforcing these rules is key to heaving a healthy teenager. If your teen seems unclear as to what you expect of her or purposefully breaks your rules, put a positive spin on this process and try a few activities that reinforce your family's policies. From discussions to more hands-on learning projects, activities for teenagers that reinforce boundaries can put your child on the path to making sound choices and living a healthy lifestyle.

Rule List

The American Academy of Pediatrics, on its Healthy Children website, recommends making specific boundaries and rules for your teen. Instead of expecting your teen to remember each and every rule, create a list together -- and display it somewhere prominent such as on the family room wall -- for your teen to refer to. Work together to come up with reasonable expectations and boundaries. For example, come up with a collaborative curfew time that both you and your teen agree on, and write it on your list. Keep in mind that, while your teen should add his opinion to the rule-making process, he must also back it up with a well thought out reason.

Role Play

While you should listen to what your teen has to say about the boundaries that you set, you don't have to turn a disagreement over her rules into an argument. Try a role play activity to show her that boundaries you create are fair and provide a healthy path to follow instead of telling her that you are "right" and that she is "wrong." For example, if she feels that she should have a 2 a.m. curfew, let her play the part of the parent, coming up with reasons as to why this isn't the most healthy option. A role play activity, in which you act as the child and she plays the part of mom, can help your teen to discover why boundaries are key in her own way without you having to force your opinions on her.

Outward Appearance

Boundaries don't always include only rules for social behaviors such as curfews or who your teen can hang out with. KidsHealth notes that parents should set boundaries when it comes to appearance-related concerns. For example, tell your teen that he can only spend 30 minutes of mirror-time in the bathroom before he has to forfeit his hair routine to the next family member who needs to shower. Encourage your teen to keep a log of the time -- or the money -- that he spends on grooming. Seeing that he spends a hefty portion of time under the hair dryer or that he uses half of his allowance on styling products will make him see why your boundaries are beneficial.

Value Sharing

Personal beliefs and values are at the heart of developing boundaries, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. If your child doesn't understand why you are setting specific boundaries, help her to see the real reasons by trying a value sharing activity. Start with a rule, or boundary, and provide the value behind it. For example, if you won't let her date until she is 16 years old, explain that teens under this age don't have the emotional maturity to handle a romantic scenario or that you value chastity among unmarried young adults. Ask her what her own values are on the subject, comparing them to reinforce the importance of each rule.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.