Contrary to some parents' fears, strict rules don't alienate kids. Although they may

    grumble and act cranky when you lay down the law, in the back of their minds (and

    hearts), they know your rules show you care. Rules about what's acceptable — from

    obeying curfews to insisting that they call in to tell you where they are — make children

    feel loved and secure.


    Setting up and enforcing rules is not easy. Parents tend to avoid setting rules because

    they fear confrontation and unpleasantness. But the uncomfortable stuff isn't necessarily

    a reflection on your relationship with your child, it's just the nature of adolescence —

    breaking rules and pushing limits is a part of growing up.


    When kids break rules, parents often overreact with harsh, disproportionate and

    unenforceable punishment, which undermines the effectiveness of setting rules.

    Instead, when you first tell your child about a new rule, discuss the consequences of

    breaking that rule — what the punishment will be and how it will be carried out.

    Consequences must go hand in hand with limits so that your child knows what the cost

    of breaking the rules will be. The punishments you set should be reasonable and related

    to the violation.  

    Punishments should only involve penalties you discussed before the rule was broken.

    Also, never issue empty threats. It's understandable that you'll be angry when house

    rules are broken, and sharing your feelings of anger, disappointment, or sadness can

    have a powerfully motivating effect on your child. Since we're all more inclined to say

    things we don't mean when we're upset, it's best to cool off before discussing



    One of the most effective rules you can make is to insist that your child be in adult supervised

    situations after school. Encourage her to get involved with youth groups,

    arts, music, sports, community service and academic clubs. Research shows that

    adolescents who are unsupervised after school are significantly more likely to use

    drugs. An example of an appropriate consequence for violating the after-school adult  supervision rule is loss of an evening's TV time.


    Many parents are surprised to learn that they have an enormous influence on whether

    their teens will abuse drugs. Make it clear that you do not ever want your child to use

    Marijuana. By emphasizing your no use expectation and policy, you reduce the

    likelihood that she will use drugs now or later in life. Also, it will give her an excuse to

    fall back on when tempted to make bad decisions.