How to be more independent as a teen girl

Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She’s also a psychotherapist, international bestselling author and host of the The Verywell Mind Podcast.

Andrea Rice is an award-winning journalist and a freelance writer, editor, and fact checker specializing in health and wellness.

How to be more independent as a teen girl

XiXinXing / Getty Images

Just because your teen turns 18 doesn’t mean they’re ready to move out of the house and live on their own. Unless you’ve taught them the life skills necessary to live in the real world, there’s a good chance they may struggle to be independent.  

In fact, many teens are becoming ‘boomerang kids’ because they lack life skills. They struggle to get by without the financial, physical, and emotional support of their parents.   Here are the basic life skills teens need to successfully gain independence from their parents:

Work Skills

Don’t assume that just because your teen made it through school that they’ll be able to hold down a job. The rules of the workforce are quite different from the confines of a high school. Teens need to know how to complete a job application, attend an interview, and follow a supervisor’s instructions.

A part-time job during high school or a summer job can help prepare your teen for the responsibilities of a future career. Additionally, assigning chores and regular household duties can prepare your teen for the working world.

Transportation Skills

Just because your teen has a driver’s license doesn’t mean they necessarily have transportation skills. Teens need to know how to get from point A to point B. That may mean knowing how to navigate through rush hour or understanding how to use GPS.

Of course, not all teens know how to drive nor have a driver’s license. In those cases, it’s important for your teen to know how to use public transportation. And if there’s a chance your teen may need to travel for work, or they plan to leave the state to go to college, knowing how to navigate an unfamiliar city is important.

Goal Setting Skills

Whether your teen wants to be healthier or they’re interested in working their way up the corporate ladder, goal setting skills are essential. Teach your teen how to establish a goal. Then, talk about how to take action toward reaching those goals. A teen who knows how to track his progress is much more likely to stay motivated.

Work on goal setting skills often. Help your teen identify one thing they want to achieve and then assist them in making it happen. With each new goal they attain, they’ll gain confidence in their ability to reach even loftier goals in the future.  

Emotion Regulation Skills

All the academic skills or athletic talent in the world will only get your child so far in life. It’s important for teens to know how to regulate their emotions, too.   After all, if your teen can’t control their temper, they won’t handle setbacks well. Or, if they can’t manage their anxiety, they may never step outside their comfort zone.  

Teach your teen how to deal with uncomfortable emotions in a healthy way. Over time, they’ll gain confidence in their ability to do hard things.

The Ability to Deal With Emergencies

When your teen has to deal with an emergency, there will be no time for them to think. Therefore, it is imperative parents take the time to teach their teens how to effectively deal with emergencies while they are at home. A grease fire, a serious injury, or natural disasters are just a few of the emergencies your teen is likely to encounter at one point or another.

Make sure your teen knows what to do when the power is out or the cell phone towers are down, too. Kids who have grown up with technology often forget that in times of true emergency, electronics aren’t always available.  

Basic Household Management

While you may be tempted to let your teen off the hook when it comes to chores, it’s essential that your teen knows how to manage a household. Whether they live in a dorm room or they rent an apartment, they’ll need to know some basic skills.

Teach your teen basic meal preparation skills. Make sure they knows how to perform simple repairs, as well as when to call in professional help. Additionally, don’t send them on their way until they know how to do their laundry and properly sanitize a bathroom.

Financial Skills

One of the most important skills you’ll ever teach your teen is how to handle money. Unfortunately, many teens leave the house with no idea how to create a budget or how to balance a checkbook. And many of will inevitably find themselves in thousands of dollars of debt in no time.

Spend time teaching your teen basic money management skills. Make sure they knows about the dangers of credit card debt, the risks involved with taking out additional private student loans, and the importance of investing their money. Teaching those skills early on could make a big difference in your child’s overall quality of life and help them build financial security for their future.

Here’s a list of ways to stop your parents from being overprotective so you can become more independent. I wrote this for a teenager who asked for help with her mother.

“I am 14 years old and my mother in particular is very controlling,” says Michelle on How to Cope With Controlling Parents When You Live at Home. “I have to live with her, and she constantly berates me mentally and sometimes physically. She barely lets me see friends outside of school and the few times that she does she has to know every exact detail. Your article How to Cope With Controlling Parents is for adults but I was wondering if you could write some steps for people who are adolescents? I really need help with my situation I just don’t know what to do or how to change my life.”

I think the best way to stop your mom from being so overprotective and controlling is to start showing her that you are mature and independent.

How to Become an Independent Teenager

Here’s a great tip from the creators of

“The more your parents think you are able to take care of yourself in a mature, responsible fashion, the more likely they will be to allow you your freedom. Keeping your parents informed about what is going on in your life can help to ease some of their fears. Simple things, like calling your parents to let them know where you are, can go a long way toward building trust. If you do something to lose their trust, the situation can become more difficult.”

The more open you are with your parents, the more likely they’ll trust you (as long as you’re not doing things that are dangerous, illegal, unhealthy, or immoral!).

Below are a few more ways to build trust and independence as a teenager. These tips are from a paper I’m writing for one of my social work classes about transitioning teenagers to adulthood. If you want your parents to trust you – if you want to become an independent teenager – then you need to start thinking about ways to be an adult! Discuss these ideas with your parents. Talk and listen to them as if you were an adult.

Finances and Money Management

Financial responsibility, paying rent and bills on time, saving money to get what I need and want. Short-term goals: research financial options and benefits for young adults, save money to live on your own or buy whatever you want, get a savings or checking account, create a monthly budget. Long-term goals: take a money management course through the public library and get a credit card.

If you don’t have any money to manage, read 36 Ways for Teens to Earn Extra Money.

Employment and Education

Figure out what you want to be when you’re an adult. Short-term goals: Get a part-time job, research scholarships if you want to go to university, get your high school records after graduation, create a calendar for deadlines. Long-term goals: Get college applications, talk to people who are working in your industry.


Live in own apartment or with a roommate. Short-term goals: Have somewhere to live on 19th birthday, decide if roommate is a good idea, research housing options, calculate costs of different options, find a place close to work, think about moving process. Long-term goals: Get a rental application, learn what is required for first-time renters, research household bills and expenses, live on your own as an independent teenager.


Get a car. Short-term goals: Figure out how to get between work and home, apply for driver’s license, research how much a bus pass costs. Long-term goals: Save $4,000 to buy a car, research Craig’s List to see how much different ones cost, look into car insurance, practice reading a map.

Self-Care and Health

Be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Short-term goals: Figure out what physical, emotional, and spiritual health means to me, learn about MSP, research free programs for people with low income, think about counseling or art therapy. Long-term goals: Get a doctor, think about vision and dental care.

Are you emotionally healthy? If you feel sad a lot, read Help for Depressed Teenagers.

Life skills

How to be more independent as a teen girlBe able to function like an independent adult, get my parents to trust me and stop being overprotective. Short-term goals: Learn about grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning. Long-term goals: learn effective ways to communicate and stand up for myself.


Get all my documents and ID cards (or at least know where they are! Part of being an independent teenager is knowing where your identification is). Short-term goals: Get social insurance card, birth certificate, BC photo id, create a filing system. Long-term goals: Have all my identification in a safe place and leave photocopies with someone I trust.

Here’s another great tip for teens from “No parent is perfect. But, in most cases, parents love you and care about you in a way that no one else in the world does, even when this isn’t always clear. Relationships with parents at any age can be difficult and complicated.”

I know 65 year old women who still have difficult relationships with their parents! Parent-child relationships can be complex and emotional, and there aren’t any easy steps to becoming independent or stopping your parents from being overprotective when you’re a teen. But, you can take steps to be as mature and healthy as possible. This will help your parents see you as an independent teenager, which may encourage them to give you more freedom.

What do you think? Big and little comments welcome below 🙂 I can’t give advice, but sometimes it helps to vent.

Parenting strategies that equip kids for the real world

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Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She’s also a psychotherapist, international bestselling author and host of the The Verywell Mind Podcast.

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Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP, is a board-certified pediatric psychologist, parent coach, author, speaker, and owner of A New Day Pediatric Psychology, PLLC.

Most parents dream of a responsible, independent teenager—one that lends a hand with household chores without being asked, always calls to check-in and hangs out with a good crowd of friends. But, in reality, all teens are going to drop the ball on responsibility (occasionally, at least).

And while you don’t need your teen to be a perfect kid, you do need him to be ready for the realities of adulthood. To best prepare your teen for the future, it’s important to offer a balance between giving enough guidance and allowing for enough freedom.

Let Your Teen Show How Much Freedom They Can Handle

How to be more independent as a teen girl

Make it clear that you’ll grant more freedom when your teen proves she’s able to make good decisions. When she shows up on time for curfew, when she makes good choices with friends, and when she takes care of her responsibilities, you’ll know she can handle a little more freedom.

Brainstorm solutions for potential situations with your teen might encounter ahead of time. Whether she’s going out with friends or you’re leaving her home alone for the night, ask her how she might handle certain issues.

Ask, “What would you do if your friend handed you a cigarette?” or “What would you do if someone knocked on the door and said he was a repairman who needs to come in?”

Talk about the fact that we all make mistakes sometimes. And owning up to those mistakes shows responsibility. Tell your teen if she tries to cover up her mistakes by lying or covering up her mistakes, you’ll know she’s not ready to handle more responsibilities.

Create a Schedule With Your Teen

Most teens have a lot going on and they need a little support with time management to behave responsibly. Sit down together and look over your teen’s schedule. Talk about how much time she should set aside for chores, homework, and extracurricular activities.

Talk about how she can create a schedule that works best for her. While one teen might want to do homework right after school, another one might want a break for an hour before diving back into work.

During the digital age, your teen doesn’t necessarily need a paper calendar. She might find an app or online calendar helps give her the reminders she needs to be responsible.

When she forgets to do her chores or has to stay up late to get her homework done, look at her mistake as an opportunity to problem-solve how she can do better next time. Helping her create a schedule for herself will teach her the time management skills she needs to thrive in the adult world.

Encourage Your Teen to Help Out

Doing chores shows responsibility. But going above and beyond regular household chores is a great way for your teen to become more independent.

Teach your teen to give to the community in some way. Volunteering at an animal shelter, participating in community clean-up efforts, or fundraising for a good cause can help your teen feel more responsible—which will encourage him to behave more responsibly.

Giving to the community will help your teen see that he has the power to make a difference in someone’s life. It’s good for his self-esteem and it will help him become a proactive adult who is invested in solving problems and supporting others.

Teach Life Skills

It can be easy to assume that your teen is on the path to becoming independent because he excels on the soccer field or because he gets his homework done on time. But just because your teen is doing well in some areas of his life doesn’t mean he’s ready to take on the responsibilities of the real world.

Make sure you’re investing time into teaching your teen life skills. Practical skills, like how to do the laundry and how to cook meals, are important. But it’s also essential to make sure your teen knows how to manage his money and understands how to communicate with other people effectively.

While your teen may pick up on some of these skills simply by watching you, she won’t learn everything through observation. Proactively teach your teen how to manage a household and how to solve real-life problems.

Be Clear About Consequences

There will be times when your teen makes mistakes (or even purposely breaks your rules). Make sure that her poor choices lead to negative consequences. Logical consequences, like the loss of privileges, can be effective teachers.

Resist the urge to make excuses or rescue your teen from her mistakes. Sometimes, natural consequences can serve as the best reminders to make a better choice next time.

It’s hard to watch your child grow up and realize that she won’t be your little baby forever. However, you’re doing your teen a disservice if you don’t instill a sense of responsibility. In the long run, your teen will thank you for turning her into a responsible, independent adult.

“Most of us live in a state of codependence, be it with our partners, friends or social group,” according to Isha Judd, author of the books Love Has Wings and Why Walk When You Can Fly . We let others shape our beliefs and decisions — so much so that we lose sight of who we are, she said.

Darlene Lancer, MFT, a psychotherapist and author of Codependency for Dummies, also noted that many people don’t become fully autonomous, instead “forming our feelings and behaviors around something external.”

Autonomy means being the author of your life, she said. You compose the rules you live by. It means “owning your own reality, perceptions, thoughts, feelings, opinions [and] memories.”

Autonomy means having “the confidence to be ourselves, and the self-awareness to know who we are and what we want,” Judd said. ((I’m using the words independence and autonomy interchangeably. Lancer prefers the terms autonomy and interdependence, because we’re social animals who are dependent on others.))

She believes that true independence derives from self-love. “[W]hen I do not accept myself, I do not trust myself or my decisions, and so I let other people define who I am and how I behave.”

Below, Judd and Lancer shared their suggestions on how we can become more autonomous, step-by-step.

1. Get to know yourself.

“You can’t be independent if you don’t know who you are,” Lancer said. To get to know yourself, she suggested journaling and reflecting on what happened during your day.

Ask yourself: “Did I speak my truth?” “Notice the gap between what you’re feeling inside and your words and behavior, which you show to the world.” For instance, maybe you said yes to something you really didn’t want to do, Lancer said. What can you learn from that experience?

(Here are five additional ways to get to know yourself.)

2. Challenge your beliefs and assumptions.

Observe your beliefs, and be willing to question them, Judd said. “Often our opinions are so habitual that we don’t even stop to see if they reflect what we really feel: kneejerk responses simply reaffirming the past.”

Often these perspectives also are shaped by our external environments and the people around us. Re-evaluating our perceptions of ourselves and the world is key for growth, she said. “…[W]ithout change, there can be no evolution.”

3. Become assertive.

Becoming assertive is a powerful way to improve your life and boost your self-esteem, which in turn helps you become autonomous, said Lancer, also author of the e-books How To Speak Your Mind: Become Assertive and Set Limits and 10 Steps to Self-Esteem: The Ultimate Guide to Stop Self-Criticism.

Assertiveness is a skill you can practice. It means setting healthy boundaries, learning to say no and being clear about your needs and feelings.

It means respecting yourself and respecting others. According to psychologist Randy Paterson, Ph.D, in The Assertiveness Workbook:

Through assertiveness we develop contact with ourselves and with others. We become real human beings with real ideas, real differences … and real flaws. And we admit all of these things. We don’t try to become someone else’s mirror. We don’t try to suppress someone else’s uniqueness. We don’t try to pretend that we’re perfect. We become ourselves. We allow ourselves to be there.

4. Start making your own decisions.

One way to ease into making your own decisions is by determining how you’d like to spend your day, Lancer said. Ask yourself: “What do I want to do?” Consider your personal passions and hobbies, she said.

5. Meet your needs.

People in codependent relationships are great at meeting others’ needs but usually ignore their own, Lancer said. Everyone has a range of needs, such as emotional, social, physical and spiritual needs.

Identify your needs and discover ways to meet them, Lancer said. For instance, if you notice you’re feeling lonely, respond to that need by reaching out and planning dinner with a close friend. “This is becoming self-responsible.”

6. Learn to soothe yourself.

Give yourself permission to acknowledge and feel your feelings. As Lancer said, instead of thinking, “’I shouldn’t feel this way’” or ignoring your feelings, be a good parent to yourself and comfort yourself. Take time to figure out what calms and supports you and makes you happy.

Again, becoming more autonomous means living by “your own internal guidance system,” rather than external systems, Lancer said. And it’s key to fulfillment. “We can never feel fulfilled by following someone else’s dreams: independent living is the only way to find true satisfaction,” Judd said.

How to be more independent as a teen girl

We naturally become more independent as we progress through life. We move away from our parents, and any bonds that once sustained us from our childhood are slowly diminished as we move into “The Real World“. Some people however form a set of new bonds as they move away from home and they never actually grow to be truly independent. There are many reasons why we should be more independent. Independence here refers to all aspects of your life including financial, career, emotional, personal faith and beliefs.

So here are the 8 important reasons why you should be more independent.

1 – Personal independence boosts your confidence

Independent people naturally tend to be a little more confident on handling issues affecting their lives. This is mainly because they are more prepared to take actions and do things without having to wait for support or permission from someone else. Being independent therefore means that you will be more likely to try out new things that you want, rather than what or how you are expected to. This also means that you will have more experience than a less independent individual. This will in time build up more confidence in you with the knowledge that you can do things on your own. For entrepreneurs, this confidence opens your mind to taking bigger risks and unbeaten paths that eventually returns bigger rewards.

2 – Less reliance on others

Less independent individuals tend to rely so much on others. This may be because they do not want to have to make choices for themselves or they feel too shy to go through challenges in their life without somebody by their side. This character makes you appear overly needy. Being a little more independent will be much appreciated by people and they will be willing to come to you for help. Being needed or relied upon is what many crave for; this will add some value on you and make you feel important.

3 – Emotional independence reduces stress and promotes happiness

Being emotionally dependent means that you can make the most of your personal decisions and go through challenging life situations without necessarily dragging other people into it. More emotional independence can also mean less suffering and disappointment, since you do not depend on others to meet you emotional needs. It is however good to understand that social support is necessary, but you can still get it without necessarily being emotionally dependent.

4 – Financial independence means freedom and a sense of accomplishment

When it comes to personal independence, there is no satisfaction comparable to the ability to pay your own bills. Being able to pay your way through life reduces dependence on your parents, friends, spouse or whichever person you used to lean on. Financial independence means that you control your income and expenditure and you are not answerable to anybody. The more that you learn to become financially independent, the less stress you may have in your life as you are more in control of your financial outcome.

5 – Better decision making

Being independent makes decision making an easy task; this is because you have proven to yourself that you are the only person that will be really affected by the decisions you make. On the other hand, being dependent on other people for emotional or financial support makes it difficult to make clear and appropriate decisions; this is because you will always have to stop to think about how the other person will be affected, and how they will react to your decisions. Whereas it is a good idea to consider other people while making decisions, being scared to make choices in fear of upsetting others can greatly hold you back.

6 – Personal improvement and creativity

The idea of setting independence as a goal can greatly boost multiple aspects of your life. Emotional independence for example improves your personal relations with friends, family, work mates and other people you interact with. You become more in control of your emotions such as anger, over-excitement, anxiety, mood swings and so on. Having a free and independent mind gives you freedom to explore your skills and talents and will ultimately bring out the best in you.

7 – Broader horizons

To be more independent means being prepared and free to meet new people and try new things. This in turn means that you will develop a broader sense of the world and be open to people and new opportunities; which leads to more knowledge and understanding of the world. It is in these deeper horizons that lies opportunities for success and adventure. Less independent individuals are less likely to have such opportunities. This is in fact is what sets successful entrepreneurs apart from the rest.

8 – Self-value and self-esteem

Independence can help increase your self-value and self-esteem, more so if becoming independent is one of your goals. The achievement of financial, emotional, social, career and personal independence gives you a sense of accomplishment that eventually changes how you rate yourself and how others view you. The increased self-worth that comes with this independence is a great booster to your self-esteem and personal success.

Below is an amazing quote about being independent by Friedrich Nietzsche . I hope you enjoy his quote as much as I did.

“It is the business of the very few to be independent; it is a privilege of the strong. And whoever attempts it, even with the best right, but without being OBLIGED to do so, proves that he is probably not only strong, but also daring beyond measure. He enters into a labyrinth, he multiplies a thousandfold the dangers which life in itself already brings with it; not the least of which is that no one can see how and where he loses his way, becomes isolated, and is torn piecemeal by some minotaur of conscience. Supposing such a one comes to grief, it is so far from the comprehension of men that they neither feel it, nor sympathize with it. And he cannot any longer go back! He cannot even go back again to the sympathy of men!”

How to be more independent as a teen girl

Independence for a teen partly means establishing identity and becoming in all ways a separate individual. It may help parents to consider that this is actually an important part of the “work” of being a teenager.

Independent Teen Choices

This means making for him- or herself a number of choices that were previously made by parents. Such things as:

  • What to wear each day
  • When to get a haircut/visit a hair stylist
  • When to do homework
  • Whom to invite to one’s birthday party
  • How to arrange one’s possessions
  • What to do with one’s allowance (if the family has one)

are usually determined for younger children. As they grow older, the responsibility becomes shared, and as they grow older, the responsibility usually passes completely into the teen’s sphere (if they haven’t earlier).

In some cases, the result may be that a teen switches from conforming to his or her parents views to conforming to a friend or a group of friends. Usually, this is just a stage in early adolescence, and teens move on to become truly independent.

Teen as Family Member

Teens also often want more say about family matters. To put it in political terms, they want a democracy in which they are a voting member, rather than a dictatorship run by parents. They want to have a voice in what they eat, where they go on family days out or vacations, what movie they want to watch as a family, what music the family should listen to on car trips, what kind of pet they should acquire, etc. They may also want to have a voice in where the family lives if there is a move in the offing, or what kind of car, television, rug, family finances, or pool the family purchases.

Teens may also want a voice in formulating the rules. As they age, there are likely to be changes in driving and car use rules, curfew rules, bedtime, and responsibilities and chores. Inviting teens to share in the decision-making – or at least give input – may lead to better cooperation and acquiescence.

Teen Opinions and Values

Teens are at the age, also, when they are developing independent opinions and values, and may seem to be (and in fact be) argumentative as a result, as they strive to assert their own views and beliefs.

Teen Autonomy

Teens are more independent also because parents are with them less of the time and know less about their activities, friends, preferences, and experiences. And they are more independent because they are attaining new responsibilities and may be driving and working, and even voting.

Teen Rebellion

Although there is a popular notion that teens rebel and are fractious, emotional, and not pleasant to live with, some studies show that teens and parents can have differences without it leading to problems in their relationships. Apparently, one study found that 19-year-olds in college were as close to their parents as 4th graders.

Some rebellion can be expected as teens naturally struggle for their independence. Teens will push boundaries, argue for the sake of arguing, and compete with you in an ongoing battle for power. Finding the balance between giving them too much freedom and being overprotective is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. However, it is healthy and natural for a teen to grow into an independent adult.

Next time your teen fights you over curfew or battles to make their own choices, have some perspective on the situation. Although parenting a teen that fights for their independence may seem like a challenge, consider the alternative. Imagine if your teen never wanted to leave the house and was content living under your roof and under your instruction for life. This would not be appropriate or healthy. A teen’s desire to become independent is an innate characteristic that assists them in growing into adulthood.

As teens struggle for their independence, there may be times when it is appropriate to give in. This doesn’t mean to give them free reign in every situation. However, you may want to pick your battles. Teens should start exercising some control over many of their own choices. Therefore, ask yourself if the issue at hand poses an immediate threat to your teen or their safety. Although you may not agree with all the choices your teen makes, they should still be entitled to make decisions independently when it is feasible.

Teaching independence to your teen goes hand in hand with teaching responsibility. It may not be as important for your teen to always make the right decisions as it is for them to learn accountability for the decisions they make. Set up a system of rewards and consequences that correspond with the goals you have for your teen. If they chose not to take out the trash, they learn that they cannot borrow the car. This allows teens to exercise power to make their own choices, while learning accountability and growing into independent adults.

A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

How to be more independent as a teen girl

Remind teens of safety tips like paying attention to their surroundings before they participate in activities without parental supervision.

A teen’s first outing without parents is a big milestone.

Most teens are eager for more freedom and parents often are nervous about what will happen when their children aren’t supervised.

“It’s the parents’ job to guide and protect their teens,” said Dr. James Meyer, an adolescent medicine physician at Marshfield Clinic. “Letting them step into some responsibility while you still can set rules will prepare them to be independent when they leave home.”

Reward good decisions with more responsibility

Give teens more responsibility in steps, like letting them go on group dates before they can go on individual dates, or limiting how far new drivers can travel and how long they can use the car. Think about your kids’ extracurricular activities and how much sleep they need when deciding how long they can stay out.

Consider their history of making good decisions when deciding if teens are ready for more independence. Kids who make impulsive decisions may need more time and guidance before they can handle more responsibility.

“Most parents say trust is earned,” Meyer said. “Teens get more freedom and responsibility if they make good decisions.”

When teens do make minor mistakes (and they will), let them learn from the natural consequences instead of being too hard on them. Save the serious consequences for riskier decisions.

Stay connected and communicate

Going out in groups can help teens stay safe if they look out for each other, but it can lead to trouble if friends encourage them to make risky decisions.

Know whom your teens are spending time with and if any adults will be present. Talk about your family values and what to do in uncomfortable or unsafe situations.

Find out where your kids are going. Ask them to let you know if plans change or if they will be home late.

“When your teen tells you about something that happened, listen without judging,” Meyer said. “It’s important for parents to know what’s going on, and getting angry can shut down communication.”

Remind teens of safety tips

Before teens leave the house alone or with friends, go over tips to help them stay safe, even if they’ve heard them before.

This list includes good safety information for teens:

  1. Have your cellphone charged and with you in case you need to make an emergency call.
  2. Let a parent know where you will be and whom you are with. Update them if plans change.
  3. Pay attention to your surroundings, including traffic, people around you and where you parked your car.
  4. Walk in well-lit public areas at night.
  5. Wear reflective clothes when jogging or biking at night.
  6. Keep headphones at a low volume if you wear them while walking or jogging.
  7. Don’t text and walk or drive. Remind friends to put down their phones while driving.
  8. Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs. Don’t get in a car with a driver who has been drinking or using drugs.
  9. Use parents as an excuse to leave an unsafe or uncomfortable situation.

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How to be more independent as a teen girl

How to be more independent as a teen girl

Jen Klein

It’s a challenging time for everyone. As much as you know your job as a mom is teach your children to leave you, it feels too close, too soon. That time of leaving is approaching rapidly, and as much as your heart might want to pull back, you know you need to promote independence in your teen. You need to allow your teen more and more autonomy and responsibility — with you as a safety net — before it’s time to let go completely. It’s scary for both of you.

How to be more independent as a teen girl

There’s no absolute formula for granting a teen independence. Lucky for everyone, independence is a process. It doesn’t happen all at one, but rather builds over time. The kind of independence you grant your 14-year-old is not the same as what you grant your 17-year-old — but hopefully the independence you grant at 14 will help build a foundation for what happens at 17.

A greater goal

There are lots of things a teenager can do. Everything from just plain spending time alone or with friends, to taking on a part time job, to taking responsibility for more chores at home and beyond. Some of it you may have taken for granted! But all of these are part of building independence and trust in your child so that when it does come time for your little (big!) bird to fly the nest, you’ll both be confident that he or she will do so confidently and successfully. Start by granting a little more freedom — a little later curfew, a little more trust — as time passes (and with appropriate checks and balances). Before you know it, you’ll have a confident, trust-worthy young adult in your household — even as you miss the tiny baby he once was.

A little push

As with every age and stage, not every teen is ready for certain responsibilities or levels of independence at that same age. For some, it’s appropriate to hold back — and for some, a little push is okay. Your daughter, for example, might not like the idea of a week away from you on a church mission trip even if she loves the idea and is committed to her youth group. It’s likely okay to give her a little push and insist she go. She’d be in a well-organized group with a safety net, after all. It’s a risk for both of you — and hopefully one that will end with your daughter saying, “Mom, you were right. I can be away and be okay. I can use a hammer and build things. I can do a lot of things.”

A little pull

Sometimes, though, as with the middle school years, you need to pull back. Sometimes a level of independence is too much, too soon. Maybe allowing your son to set his own part-time work schedule around school didn’t work so well — and grades suffered. Just because you need to pull back doesn’t mean your child will never be able to handle that level of independence — it just means not yet. It means you have an opportunity to do a little more teaching and supervising.

Freedom to fail

As your child slowly becomes more independent through the teen years, he or she also needs the freedom to make mistakes, to fail and face the consequences. Yes, you are the safety net during this time of transition, but there may be things you can’t or shouldn’t fix. This, it seems, can be the worst, most painful part of helping your child become an independent adult. Whether it’s a failed exam, losing a job or a friend or something else (and, please, oh, please, nothing worse!), independence also means making mistakes. You can be counsel when these mistakes happen, offer guidance and sympathy — but in the end your not-quite adult child must live with the consequences.

Someday, some way, your child will become completely independent from you. At some point, your child may no longer need you, but likely will still want you. With luck and patience and thought, you will parent your child to this point — and it will have seemed to have happened in the blink of any eye. Keep some tissues handy.