Remember the slogan, "It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?" It reminded parents about the importance of monitoring their children. Research shows that parents who are aware of their children's activities and whereabouts have kids who are less likely to be negatively influenced by peers or to get involved with problem behaviors.
But how can parents monitor their child's activities? Experts suggest that good parental monitoring involves setting clear expectations for behavior, having consequences in place when the rules are broken, and actively tracking your child's behavior.
Children of all ages need limits to help provide them with structure for living. Setting limits teaches children that you care about them and that you want them to be safe and responsible. It's a good idea to involve children in your limit discussions since they are more likely to cooperate in meeting that limit. However, keep in mind that these discussions do not always mean that parents and kids agree on every limit but at least they've had input. Be sure the rules are reasonable, clear, positive and enforceable. Your children should understand the "why" behind the limit and why it is important to follow it.
After rules are established, create consequences with your child if the rules are broken. Consequences should be related to a specific rule, and be reasonable and respectful.
Tracking your child's behavior should start in early childhood and continue throughout the teen years, evolving as children grow and mature. Some things you can do to monitor your child are ask questions. Remember who, what, where and when. For example, with whom will you be, what will you be doing, where will you be, or when will you be home. Other ways to track your kids' activities include checking in with them by phone and getting to know his/her friends and their parents.
To learn more about parental monitoring and other strategies to help guide children successfully through their teen years, register for a "Strengthening Families Program: for Parents and Youth 10-14" workshop. Strengthening Families is a seven week program designed to reduce adolescent substance abuse and other youth problematic behaviors.