Teens see in black and white. To create transparent and efficient rules, use simplicity, clarity, and consistency.

Make your rules simple: Rules should be easy to remember and hard to manipulate.

  • Make a list of all the rules you currently have in play within the management of your teen.
  • Look for overlap and try to consolidate the rules into fewer rules where possible. For example, if there are layers to curfew, try to reduce those layers and come up with one time. Maybe two. But less is more.
  • Avoid overcomplicating your rules. More complicated sets of rules lead to more grey area, which in-turn leads to ambiguity, which certainly results in confusion and conflict. For example, they can either use ride-sharing apps or not. Not sometimes yes, and sometimes no. 

Make your rules clear. Make your rules clear and easy to understand by eliminating variables from the conversation: Nothing like ambiguity to really shake things up in a tense, teenage-dwelling household.

  • Keep your rules in check; the more rules you employ the less meaningful those rules become.
  • Define an umbrella of base-core-values to drive your rulemaking process.
  • Remind your teens of these core values before they leave and when they return.
  • For example, on the way out the door instead of nagging with you better be home by ten! you can instead shift the mantra to something more positive such as please remember to be respectful and safe tonight; have fun, we’ll see you at ten! Same message, very different delivery. 

Make your rules consistent: Rules only work when used consistently—something that remains a very underutilized wrench in the parenting toolbox.

  • Pre-plan various interventions or consequences for typical or anticipated behaviors.
  • Always prepare for a bit worse than you can wrap your head around, just in case. There is nothing worse than being unprepared as a parent.
  • Treat your responses with less emotion than your mind, body, heart, and soul are demanding you do. Your ability to posture calmly and void of over the top emotion will help keep an advantageous position within the parent-teen-dynamic. You cannot unsay or un-throw what you say or throw; once those words hit the air, or vase hits the floor - the moment shifts from what your teen has done or said to what you have done or said. In short, if you are not careful the moment will quickly become about you when it should not be.

Simple, clear and consistent rules pay-off, so take some time to reflect and reinstall structure into your management of teenagers.