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A guide to helping teens make smart choices

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Many parents think their teenagers are three years younger than they really are, while most teenagers think they are three years older than they are.

Finding middle ground can be hard work

Healthy teens generally want more freedom, while parents want to make sure their young people are safe. 

As young people grow and show the ability to make smart choices allow them more authority over their lives.

Increasing, independence involves greater freedom to choose, which demonstrates trust and faith in their ability to make good decisions.

Young people often can't see the long-term consequences of their decisions so it helps to give them information to help them make smart choices.

Also brain research shows that teenagers in the 13-18 year age group need help and guidance around decision-making. The pleasure-seeking part of their brain tends to dominate the reasoning part of the brain during this stage......and later as well.

Here is a handy guide to prompt young people to make smart decisions, particularly when you are not around. Remind young people to ask themselves these three questions about their behaviour:

1. Is this behaviour safe? (This is about assessing risk)

2. Is this behaviour fair to others? (This is about being sociable and teaching them to consider others)

3. Is this behaviour smart and in my long-term best interests? (This is about thinking ahead, which isn't a typical teenager's strong point.)

Decision-making is hard work for parents as we are always treading a fine line between being too protective and allowing young people more freedom.

If young people are to learn how to make smart choices adults need to equip them with the processes as well as the opportunities to do so.

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