Setting Ground Rules For Teens

Loud music and ripped clothing. Texting at the table and shouting at their sisters. Dramatic weeping and hysterical laughter. Welcome to life with a teenager!

While it can be a rollercoaster ride, living with a teen is much easier once a set of ground rules is established and enforced.

Teens might think that rules make their homes their prisons, but sitting down as a family and hashing out guidelines for the important issues will give you all a sense of balance.


Teens will often forget that leaving utilities on will hurt the environment and your purse. Chat with your teen about:

  • Shorter showers. A ten minute time limit should be fine.
  • Turning off the taps, even while brushing their teeth.
  • Turning out the lights when they leave a room.
  • Making sure all of their electrical gadgets (computers included) remain turned off while they are at school.
  • Using the telephone for short calls to other landlines.


Talk with your teen about the cleanliness you expect them to show in their rooms, around the house, and even on their person.

  • Remind your teenager that fresh clothes should be worn every day.
  • Set up a system for laundry.
  • Advise your teen that their rooms should show some semblance of order, and you should always be able to see the floor and their furniture through their mess.
  • Remain firm that the house is not their playground. Your teen’s personal property should not be strewn about the rooms at will.


All members of the household should be assigned chores, teenagers included. Easy tasks for teens include:

  • Keeping their rooms clean.
  • Cleaning the bathroom every weekend.
  • Washing dishes in the evening.
  • Taking out the rubbish bins.
  • Hoovering the living room.
  • Folding and/or ironing laundry.

Pocket Money

Let your teen know your feelings towards pocket money. Discuss:

  • If your teen will receive an allowance.
  • If your teen’s allowance will be linked to assigned chores.
  • How you feel about your teen taking a paying job.
  • What your teen’s pocket money will need to cover (for instance snacks, entertainment, mobile phone credit or clothes).

Life Lessons

Sometimes teens forget what it means to be a polite member of society. Remind them that:

  • Yelling and swearing is unacceptable.
  • Violence will not be tolerated.
  • Cigarettes and alcohol are illegal and unacceptable at their age.
  • Nutrition is important and healthy eating is expected.
  • Using the Internet is a privilege, and policies have been set for acceptable usage.
  • Their mobile phones are for communication, not for taunting, teasing or bullying.
  • Homework and school assignments are to be turned in on time.
  • Their nightly curfew is for their own safety.

If there is one thing for sure about teenagers, it is that there will never be a dull moment while they are around! Setting up a few ground rules now will help keep the drama to a minimum later.

See Also
Unhappy teenager
Teenagers and Step Families
Moody teenager
Motivating Your Teen