Boundaries and Privacy

In our survey with young people across Ireland, Bridging the Digital Disconnect, the need for parents to respect young people’s privacy was the most frequent request from people aged 12-18 years of age.

The need for boundaries and privacy obviously differs depending on the age of your son or daughter and their individual personality. Generally though, as they get older they will need more personal space.

Some freedom

Their increased need for freedom and time alone doesn’t necessarily mean they have something to hide. It just means they require a little more personal space and time to explore who they are and who they want to be.

While young people need to be allowed to make choices and learn from mistakes, they don’t need complete freedom. It’s still important to have an awareness about your son or daughter’s activities and, in as far as possible, ensure they are not participating in dangerous or illegal activities.

Clear boundaries

Boundaries should be clear, reasonable and consistent, with consequences for not respecting them. Discuss this clearly with your son/daughter and ensure they have a role to play in establishing rules and consequences, this will help them develop self-discipline.

  • Be honest – your son/daughter is more likely to respect boundaries if they’re genuinely set in their own best interest.
  • Be clear – let your son or daughter know what is unacceptable. Equally, try to notice and praise their efforts when they do the right thing.
  • Trust – give young people a chance to trust and be trusted – let them take responsibility for themselves and give them a reason to trust you.
  • Respect boundaries – it’s not appropriate to snoop through your son or daughter’s belongings. Doing so could seriously harm your relationship. It’s much better to discuss your concerns with them.
  • Think before you speak – stop and consider before you say ‘no’ to a request. Are they old enough or responsible enough for you to say ‘yes’? If you do say no, explain why.
  • Maintain communication – it’s important your son/daughter knows you’re there for them and they can come to you if they’re going through a tough time. Importantly, really listen when they talk to you.
  • Be aware – and be able to recognise changes in behaviour that may signal problems. Some signs include changes in eating or sleeping patterns, mood changes or problems at school etc.
  • Be there for them – support them if things don’t work out, in which case encourage them try again.

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