The best way you can keep your child safe is through diligent parent monitoring!
- Where will you be?
- Whom will you be with?
- When will you be home?
Communicate with your teen
- Talk with your teen about your rules and expectations, and explain the consequences for breaking the rules
- Talk and listen to your teen often about how he/she feels and what he/she is thinking (ongoing, daily dialogue is important to establish; leaving it to times of crisis can ostracize young people, and make it more challenging/awkward for you as a parent)
- Talk with your teen about plans he/she has with friends, what he/she is doing after school, and where he/she will be going
- Ask whether an adult will be present when your teen is going to a friend’s house
- Talk with you teen about how they spend their time and whether or not they are making safe choices
- Pay attention to your teen’s mood and behavior at home, and discuss any concerns you might have
Be actively involved (Monitor, Monitor, Monitor!)
- Monitor your teen’s school work, particularly writing assignments that might reveal concerning behaviors, thoughts or intentions
- Check in with your teen by phone
- Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents
- Set expectations for when your teen will come home, and expect a call if he/she is going to be late
- Set and enforce rules for your teen’s behavior by clearly explaining the rules and consequences as well as following through with the appropriate consequences when rules are broken
- If your teen breaks a rule, enforce the consequences fairly and consistently
- Keep track of how your teen spends time online, and talk about using the Internet safely
- Make sure your teen knows how to contact you at all times
- Talk with your relatives, your neighbors, your teen’s teachers and other adults who know your teen. Ask them to share what they observe about your teen’s behaviors, moods, or friends
- Watch how your teen spends money
- Monitoring should start in early childhood and continue through the teen years, evolving as children grow
- Be consistent: monitoring through the teen years is critical as teens’ desire for independence can bring opportunities for unhealthy or unsafe behaviors
Does parental monitoring make a difference?
- Research shows that teens whose parents use effective monitoring practices are less likely to make poor decisions, such as having sex at an early age, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, being physically aggressive or skipping school (many of which are risk factors for suicide).
- Research shows that teens who believe their parents disapprove of risky behaviors are less likely to choose those behaviors; thus, clear communication about your expectations is essential!
Taken from the CDC on-line website: www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/protective/pdf/parental_monitoring_factsheet.pdf