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Family Checkup

Question 5: Supervision

Do you monitor your teenager to assure that he or she does not spend too much unsupervised time with peers?

Childhood is a period of major growth and change. Youth tend to be uncertain about themselves and how they “fit in,” and at times they can feel overwhelmed by a need to please and impress their friends. These feelings can leave children open to peer pressure. Knowing your child’s friends and peers helps parents improve communication, reduce conflict, and teach responsibility.

Unsupervised Time with Peers and Monitoring

  • Negative example: Dad doesn’t pay attention
  • Positive example: Dad follows up


You can help your child and increase your influence by:

  • knowing your child’s friends in the neighborhood and at school
  • staying involved in your child’s activities
  • talking to your child when a concern comes up

Extra Tips

  • Keep lines of communication open.
  • Be patient and observe; don’t react—it may pass.
  • Stay involved.
  • Spend time listening to your child.
  • Know who your child’s friends are and watch your child interact with them and others.
  • Talk to the parent(s) of your child’s friends.

Peer Influence

Youth do not always make wise choices in picking friends. Help them see what qualities they should value in friends—such as honesty, school involvement, and respect.


When youth begin to spend more and more time away from home, monitoring their behavior and whereabouts is challenging. Supervision helps parents recognize developing problems, promote safety, and stay involved.

The 4 Cs of supervision can help you with this difficult task:

  • Clear Rules—Have a few non-negotiable rules about your child’s behavior and state them clearly!
  • Communication—Regular communication with other parents and teachers keeps you involved in your child’s activities, creates resources to deal with problems by building a strong safety network for your child, and informs you of dangerous places or people.
  • Checking Up—This lets your child know that you care about his or her safety and that your rules are important. This is hard for some of us because we want to trust our children and they may resist our efforts.
  • Consistency—Supervision is most effective when parents set clear limits and follow through with consequences for misbehavior. Also, be consistent with giving praise and incentives when a rule is followed.

How do you supervise when you are not at home?

  • Know your child’s schedule.
  • Call your child at varying times.
  • Have your child check in with you or other caregivers when he or she reaches home.
  • Have your child check in when he or she reaches his or her destination.
  • Surprise your child with a random visit or call.
  • Remain in communication with adults who interact with your child.

Practice Skill

Video: Questioning


When asking your child questions:

  • Choose a good time.
  • Use a neutral or positive tone.
  • Show interest and understanding.
  • Paraphrase what your child says.

This page was last updated August 2015