I Can’t Supervise My Teen 24/7 – Ask Dr. JPL

I Can’t Supervise My Teen 24/7 – Ask Dr. JPL

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Question:

Dear Dr. JPL:
I can’t supervise my teen 24/7 how do I make sure she is making the right decisions?

Answer:

The good news is that research reflects that teens tend to take their cues from their parents. What this translates to mean is that your teen looks to you to model behavior. You teach your teens about life and communicate your values to them. In turn teens tend to internalize these values.

It is true that you cannot monitor your teen all the time. You can, however, ensure that your bond is strong and communication is constant. Teens engaging in high-risk behaviors are often in some sort of duress. As a parent it is important to be mindful of any changes in your teen’s behavior. On the contrary, if your teen seems to be doing well in the different realms of her life, the chances are good that she is safe and secure.

One way to stay aware is to collect collateral information. Keep tabs on how she is doing in school both academically and socially by touching base with her guidance counselor and/or other school personnel such as a favorite teacher or coach every now and then. Surround yourself with a network of other parents especially the parents of her friends. Be sure to let them know that you are interested in anything they have to say about your teen. Tell them you would want to hear about concerning behavior such as taking unnecessary risks.

You should also let your teen know that you are monitoring her whereabouts. While there is no way to check up on everywhere she goes, random checks are quite effective in sending the message that you are watching. Research has found that teens that believe that their parents are monitoring them are less likely to engage in concerning behaviors. If you are worried, talk with your teen. Communication is the key to clarification and camaraderie.

ASK DR. JPL: Have a question about your own teen and alcohol? Ask our resident tween, teen and parenting expert, Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder Psy.D, to help you have The Alcohol Talk with your child. Submit your questions on the Ask Dr. JPL page of this blog. Dr. JPL may answer your question on the blog to help other parents address similar issues with their children.

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Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder is one of the tween, teen and parenting experts that participated in the focus groups that helped form the new educational campaign and website, TheAlcoholTalk.com. Her expertise and vast experience were also tapped for much of the advice and guidance included on the site. Her unique understanding of the communication techniques necessary for The Alcohol Talk to effectively take place make her an ideal spokesperson for the campaign. Dr. Powell-Lunder is a clinical psychologist specializing in work with tweens, teens, young adults, and their families. She is co-author of the book Teenage as a Second Language (Adams Media 2010) and the creator of www.itsatweenslife.com, an interactive and informational website for parents and tweens, and co-creator of www.Talkingteenage.com, an interactive informational website for the parents of teenagers. Jennifer is a regular contributor for outlets including Psychology Today, Parenting Magazine, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, GalTime, KnowMoreTV, Examiner, and North Texas Kids. She has also been featured in The Huffington Post, Yahoo, AOL’s ParentDish, Mamapedia and many other blogs and websites. As a parenting expert on both radio and television programs including NPR’s Talk of the Nation, NBC’s TODAY in New York, Better TV and WCBS, FOX and ABC affiliates, Jennifer talks about tween, teen and parenting issues. She was profiled in Westchester Magazine’s January 2012 feature on ‘People to Watch Jennifer is a published researcher, in-demand speaker and consultant on tween, teen, and young adult issues. She spent almost a decade as a Program Director of an inpatient adolescent psychiatric unit at a private psychiatric hospital in the Northeast where she now serves as Senior Clinical Liaison. She is also an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University. Jennifer sits on the Board of Directors for Family Ties, a non-profit family advocacy agency serving Westchester County, NY and maintains a private outpatient practice in Bedford Hills, NY.

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