Teen Independence


Dr. Liz shares three strategies to empower your teen on their journey to independence from her CBS News NY Segment.

As parents, watching our kids grow from dependent children to independent young adults can beIndependent teen with car keys exciting and worrisome. We want to see them spread their wings and soar, but letting go of control can feel scary. It’s a delicate balance between nurturing their independence and ensuring they have the life skills to thrive on their own.

Teens and parents often view independence through different lenses. While teens crave freedom and autonomy, parents emphasize instilling essential life skills. It’s a tug-of-war between the desire for fewer restrictions and the need for practical preparation for the real world.

So, how can we foster our children’s independence while still providing the guidance and support they need? Here are three strategies to empower your teen on their journey to independence:

1. Less is More: Step back and allow your teen to take on more responsibilities. By giving them opportunities to contribute to household tasks, such as preparing dinner once a week, you not only lighten your load but also empower them to develop essential life skills. It’s natural to feel apprehensive when they don’t meet our expectations immediately, but remember, independence is a gradual process. Provide guidance and support, but also give them the space to learn from their mistakes and make their own choices.

2. Expand Their Boundaries: As your teen demonstrates maturity and reliability, consider expanding their boundaries. This could mean extending their curfew or allowing them to drive to events independently. By gradually loosening the reins, you’re giving them the chance to prove themselves while maintaining a safety net. Keep communication lines open and be prepared to adjust boundaries based on their level of responsibility.

3. Turn Mistakes into Lessons: When your teen inevitably makes mistakes – and they will – resist the urge to swoop in and fix things for them. Instead, use these moments as teachable opportunities. If they procrastinate on a school project, allow them to experience the consequences of their actions while offering support and guidance. Encourage them to problem-solve and learn from missteps, building resilience and self-reliance.

Navigating the path to independence with your teen can be challenging but rewarding. By fostering a balance of freedom and responsibility, providing opportunities for growth, and embracing teachable moments, you’re preparing them for the challenges of adulthood and strengthening the bond between parent and child. Together, you can navigate this transition with patience, understanding, and a shared commitment to their success.

Watch my last CBS News NY Segment about striking a balance as teens seek independence: CBS News NY Segment

Dr. Liz