The adolescent years bring transition in the life of a child. A new phase of life begins as signs of deeper levels of maturity become apparent. This is the time when children begin to assert their independence. They seek to be with friends more and generally spend less time with the family.

Parents are often uncomfortable with the level of freedom their children seek. Adults can feel more at ease with their children’s budding level of independence by offering new freedoms in stages. These stages can be built upon as children demonstrate their ability to be more responsible.

When children attend activities at school, parents can feel a sense of control by being involved as a volunteer, chaperone, or spectator. Once there, parents should note the level of supervision, security and routine in place. These observations will help parents decide if they are comfortable allowing their children to attend these events without direct parental supervision in the future.

When the comfort level is achieved, and children began to attend events without direct parental supervision, clear guidelines should be set. These guidelines will keep children safe and help them build a sense of responsibility and self-confidence as their independence grows.

Some rules parents may want to put into place:

· Children should call to check in during the event.

· Children should not leave the venue unless there is an emergency.

· If parents are not driving their children to and from an event, parents should personally know the driver of the car.

· Children should stay with their friends and not wander off alone during the event.

· Even at this age, children should be advised against speaking to strangers.

A child’s level of independence should be increased as long as rules are followed. When rules are broken, it demonstrates a lack of responsibility. The natural consequence for breaking rules should be to reduce the level of freedom the child is offered. Enforcement of these guidelines keeps children safe, as they grow more independent.

Independence and Responsibility are interrelated:

It is perfectly acceptable to expect more from your children as they grow into young adults. For most students, continued passing grades and attention to assigned duties at home are evidence of a growing level maturity. Many parents find success in connecting extracurricular activities to academic performance and routine chores in the home. When children do not attend to classroom grades, and assigned duties within the home, their privileges should be reduced. A child’s level of ownership for personal actions is an indication of the degree of freedom in which they should be entrusted. Adolescents soon learn responsibility and independence go hand in hand.

Author's Bio: 

Victoria Cummings is a veteran educator who has worked with students in kindergarten through eight grades. She is a child advocate, especially for the little understood middle school child. Victoria has written a handbook for the middle school parent entitled "Nine Ways to Help Your Child Succeed". Her desire is to help parents raise happier, more successful children by offering advice on ways of navigating through these challenging years.