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Helicopter Parenting

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Helicopter Parenting

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 Ask a Child and Family Professional


 Question: "How do you not helicopter parent but still set boundaries?"




One of the developmental needs of teens is increased independence, teens are seeking to establish new limits and increased freedom. Our job is to support this development by trying to ensure our boundaries match our teens growing maturity. This means we not only need to set boundaries but
adjust them as your teen matures. Here’s some tips to help you do this:


Boundaries have a better chance of success when your teen knows you are on their side and want to work with them. Express your understanding that they want (and need) more independence and that you are trying to work towards this whilst supporting their safety. Help them understand the
reason for a boundary and the value it is linked to. This can help them understand you are trying to support them rather than feeling you are trying to control them or don’t trust them.

Plan ahead:

Having boundaries and consequences set in advance helps set you and your teen up for success. Think about what limits you want to set and why. It is helpful to set and agree to the consequences when you set a boundary, rather than following a rule breach. Check consequences fit the rules and not so mild they might be ignored but not so strong they foster resentment or rebellion.

Work together & Problem Solve: 

Work together with your teen to try to set boundaries you are both comfortable with, whilst being clear on where your line is for issues around safety and family values. A great way to do this is by negotiating together with your teen. It shows your teen you respect their opinion and helps you
understand each other’s perspective. Boundaries set when we are angry or vulnerable are usually not the most effective ones. Problem solving boundaries that aren’t working and work together with your teen to find a possible solution. If you are feeling unsure or stuck around the topic of setting boundaries, our ReachOut
One-on-One Support
 team can help.

Be specific and consistent:

Ensure boundaries are clear for both you and your teen to ensure you both understand what the expectations are. When you have set a boundary, it is important you are consistent in implementing it and follow through when the rule is broken. Remember, the best kind of consequences are the natural ones, and these are usually more aligned to what will happen in their adult lives.

Notice their successes:

As your teen demonstrates increased responsibility and trustworthiness, let them know you have noticed and be willing to expand their boundaries a little. This is especially empowering for young people if you do so without them having to ask. If you restrict or tighten a boundary as a consequence of them breaking crossing a boundary remember to expand it a little as they demonstrate increased responsibility around it.

Lead by example

It is also important for us to lead by example and to think about whether we are role modelling how to align with boundaries


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