However innocent you may consider your own children to be, it’s a rare child that hasn’t committed some petty misdemeanor; minor theft, trespass, truanting, and petty vandalism are all relatively harmless and common crimes for the pre-teen wanting to look big in front of their friends. Unfortunately, fitting in becomes an even bigger deal once your child hits their teens, and so do offences, and the penalties they carry.
Falling in with the wrong crowd ranks highly in a parent’s worry armory – how can they stop their child experimenting with drugs, or worse still, getting involved with a violent gang, and perhaps becoming a victim of crime themselves?
The sad fact is, unless grounded until adulthood, a juvenile will largely make their own decisions, for good or bad. Besides, unless you’re also homeschooling the child – which is impractical – you cannot supervise them round the clock.
So what can you do?
Treating them like an adult – the younger you allow children to not only have responsibility, but to take responsibility for their actions, the more likely it is that they will fully accept that those actions have consequences, sometimes serious ones.
- Give them freedom within boundaries – in addition, make sure that responsible adherence to these is rewarded in some way.
- Shock treatment- if your teen shows an alarming tendency to adopt the “it can’t happen to me” attitude that some juveniles do, expose them to the consequences of their actions. Talk to your local law enforcement juvenile crime division, and frighten them with what could happen, especially if their crimes could potentially take them within the boundaries of being tried and incarcerated as an adult.
A parent’s lot is not easy – the most important tool in your armory is never to allow communication with your child to break down.