Have you noticed that your teen is struggling in their relationships? Have you observed them trying to be someone they’re not in order to fit in? Have you seen your teen going out of their way to please their friends, just to be liked . . . only to be taken advantage of and manipulated?
It can be so worrying! Naturally, you want your kid to be liked, respected, and to have relationships that are positive. Teaching our teens how to establish healthy boundaries in their relationships can help them value and respect themselves, identify their limits, direct them in picking healthy relationships to begin with, and simply leading them to live happier, healthier lives. Boundaries are not something teens (or adults) are taught in school, yet they’re so important for teens to learn about during this stage of their lives.
Where to start? Check out these tips on how you can support your teen in taking steps to begin establishing healthy boundaries in their relationships:
Healthy Relationships vs. Unhealthy Relationships Supporting your teen in noticing the differences between healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships can help them recognize when they are being respected, loved, and appreciated vs. when they are being taken advantage of, manipulated, and used. It’s typical for teens to be blinded by their need to be accepted. This desperate need to be included leads teens to sacrifice much of themselves, including their self-worth. So, talk to your teen about what they appreciate in their relationships and what they don’t, model these healthy boundaries in your own relationships, even use examples from TV, youtube, celebrities to point out and discuss what’s positive and healthy and what isn’t okay. Supporting your teen in seeing the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships can be crucial in helping them recognize their self-worth and in keeping them from getting into unhealthy relationships now and in the future.
Labeling and Expressing Feelings Helping your teen be able to identify when they are feeling sad, angry, and frustrated, as well as knowing that it is okay to express their feelings in their relationships, can lead teens to be better at clearly expressing their needs and wants. It is common for teens not to express their thoughts and feelings in relationships due to their fear of being rejected and/or made fun of. Explaining to your teen that their thoughts and feelings deserve to be heard and respected as part of a healthy relationship is a good start in establishing appropriate boundaries.
Saying “NO” is okay. It is really normal for teens to automatically say “yes” to things that they really want to say “no” to because of their hopes of being liked and fitting in. Have discussions with your teen about how saying “no” does not make them any less of a person; in fact, it makes them more strong and confident. Use examples of situations and people you know or even references from history or pop culture. Model saying “no” yourself sometimes. Recognizing the benefits in saying “no” can lead your teen realize how important it is to speak up, which can help them avoid trouble and not get taken advantage of or manipulated in their relationships.
Establishing boundaries for anyone can feel uncomfortable and confrontational, especially when you’re first starting. It takes time and practice to strengthen this skill. So, please try to imagine how uncomfortable your teen must feel learning to establish boundaries at an age when they don’t even know who they are or where they belong yet. Being empathetic and patient with your teen can definitely make the process of supporting them in establishing healthy boundaries be a bit easier. And, if you or your teen need support anywhere along the way, we’re here for you.
Thrive Therapy & Counseling
1614 X St., Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95818