Effective Supervision a Key to Successful Parenting
A key to raising children successfully is to exercise appropriate amounts of monitoring and supervising of their behavior and activities. Do too little supervision and you risk being an indulgent and overly lax parent; do too much supervision and you become an excessively strict and repressive parent. Neither extreme leads to good results with children.
But striking the right balance in monitoring and supervision can help you achieve that balance – and, of course, you will do a good job of keeping track of where your child is and what she is doing. That, research has shown, is important in being a successful parent.
But how can you monitor your child effectively?
You may have learned in a writing or journalism class somewhere along the line that a lead paragraph, particularly in news writing, needs to answer five basic questions: Who? What? When? Where? and Why? These questions can serve you well in supervising your child. However, I would add one more question: How?
● Who? You should ask a simple question, such as “Who are you going to be with?” Find out who your child will be hanging around with and learn something about her friends. While you are at it, find out something about her friend’s parents or other adults who will be providing supervision.
● What? You should ask: “What are you going to be doing?” Find out what she and her friends are planning and learn the details of what she says she will be doing. Should she be doing this? Has it been carefully thought through or carefully planned? If not, you may have to get involved and help her plan more carefully.
● When? You should ask: “When are you leaving and when are you coming back?” You’re not being nosy, this is just another important questions competent parents ask. Your child has a responsibility to let you know when she’s leaving and when she will return home. You deserve to know this as a parent.
● Where? You should ask: “Where exactly are you going?” Can she tell you where she’s going to be? Does she have a phone number or an address to give you in case you need to reach her while she is out? If she can’t provide you with specific details about where she will be and how you can reach her, you may have second thoughts about allowing her to go.
● Why? You should ask: “Why are you doing this activity?” Does it have a worthwhile purpose? Is it safe? Is it likely to put her in a too-risky situation? You have to use your intuition and judgment to make a decision about whether her stated purpose is reasonable and something you can allow.
● How? You should ask: “How are you going to get there and get back?” Is she going to be with a responsible driver? Is the person doing the driving someone you know and can agree is a safe driver? Is it someone who has been known to drink and drive? Is there a safe way for her to get home on time? Again, if you don’t like your child’s answers to these questions, then you may have to set some limits.
Adequately supervising a child, particularly a teenager means you must clarify your expectations. Let her know exactly what you expect (that she will be where she says she is going, for instance) and what the rules and limits are.
These questions I’m suggesting do not mean that children don’t have choices or that you are controlling all of their activities. It does mean that you demand that your child act in a responsible way, that she knows what the rules and expectations are, and that you fully expect her to agree to live up to these rules and expectations.
Why is all of this important?
It’s simple. When you monitor and closely supervise your child, there’s less chance that she will be involved in risky, unwise, or unsafe behavior. And in the long run, she learns to be a responsible individual who thinks carefully about her choices.