Developmental Asset #11: Family Boundaries

Adolescence is a time of shifting roles and responsibilities, for both kids and parents. For many kids, it’s a time of rebellion, of bucking against parental authority. As your kids become more independent and capable, they will be taking on more responsibility for their actions, and family rules and expectations may change. It is important to be flexible in the face of these changes, but it is also vitally important to maintain boundaries and rules in your family. Your children need to know that their actions have consequences. Here are a few important things to remember.


  1. Monitor your teens’ whereabouts. Always ask where they are going, with whom, and when they will be home.


  1. Hold your kids of all ages accountable for their behaviour online. This is a challenging area for parents who feel like they’re less web-savvy than their children, but let them know early on that you’re tracking their activity online, and then make sure that you do it. Don’t try to trap them – instead, if they’re aware of your monitoring, they are more likely to use the Internet responsibly. has this very helpful article with the provocative title “How to Spy on Your Child Online.” It’s a worthwhile read about why it’s so important to monitor your kids’ online activity, how you can do it, and how to do it in the right spirit, with a clean conscience. Internet safety is about more than just protecting your kids from predators, scams, and viruses now – it’s also about how the wrong social media post can adversely affect their futures.

    For your younger kids and preteens, Google has a new program called Be Internet Awesome. It has resources for educators (that’s you!), a pledge for family members to sign, and an online game to help kids learn about sharing with care, protecting personal information, distinguishing fact from fiction, and respect for others.

3. When your teen lashes out at you, try to respond with love, not with anger. Say something like, “I’m sorry that you’re feeling that way right now, and I love you, but the way you’re behaving is not okay.”


RECOMMENDED READING: Parenting Preteens with a Purpose: Navigating the Middle Years by Kate Thomsen


Search Institute has identified 40 building blocks of healthy development, known as Developmental Assets, that help adolescents to grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Visit us here every Wednesday to read about different ways that you, your family, and your community can take action to help equip our young people develop resilience and achieve success in life.