Why you should let your teen struggle

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Parents want to protect their kids, but when they don’t let them make bad decisions, they can stifle their development. They don't get the chance to make a bad decision and to learn from it.

“In the teenage years, it’s a really key developmental area in life,” said Dr. Andrew Heckman, Boys Town Behavioral Health Expert. “It's when we're developing what we call our executive function skills. So these are the skills we kind of take for granted. Kind of they're our human skills, like our abilities to make decisions, to problem-solve, to think something through, to regulate our emotions. And we learn from success, but we also learn from failure.”

Here are a few things Dr. Heckman says you should remember about letting your teenager struggle.

1. Parents should control access for privileges, not school performance or decision-making. Figure out what lost privileges are problems for the child and use that to make poor school performance a problem they care about.

2. By allowing kids to work through the consequences of their actions you can help them improve skills like problem-solving, planning, decision-making, emotion regulation, and delayed gratification.

3. If a child is aware of what the consequences will be for a bad decision, they might slow down. That is the goal to get them to slow down and think things through.

4. Praise your child for an appropriate response when they do lose privileges and consider returning the privilege is they show maturity in their response.

Teenagers need to be able to make mistakes while they have the safety net of their parents. Otherwise, they can become entitled adults who don’t know how to fail and make up for it. If you’d like more information about parenting teenagers or other parenting advice, www.Boystown.org.