Tag Archive for: Kelsey Crago

By Kelsey Crago, MSW, LSW, Youth First, Inc.

During adolescence, it’s normal for your child to want more independence, test boundaries, and make decisions you don’t understand. According to Stanford Medicine, it’s developmentally appropriate for a teenager’s focus to shift from family relationships to peer relationships. When you combine this change in priorities with the myriad of physical and emotional changes during the teen years, it’s easy to feel lost, like you don’t even know your child anymore.

Your relationship with your child will look different during each stage of their life, from infancy to adulthood. As your child’s needs change, it can be beneficial to take steps to refresh your relationship. Let’s look at some strategies to help maintain a healthy relationship with your teen.

1. Spend time together. Positive parent relationships are important for healthy development. Prioritize spending time with your teen. If you have tried and they

don’t seem interested, consider letting them choose what you do together. Let your teen teach you about their interests.

2. Model healthy behaviors. Modeling remains an effective form of education into the teen and adult years. Let your teen see you taking steps to manage your physical health, mental health, and day-to-day responsibilities. Show accountability for missteps along the way.

3. Encourage independence. Empower your child to make their own decisions – what to wear, which elective classes to take, and which extracurricular activities to participate in. Your teen is working to develop a sense of identity. Allowing them to make decisions (with guidance) helps them develop positive self-esteem, judgment and problem-solving skills.

4. Set boundaries with your teen. Although you have a young adult in the house, you are still the main adult. Teens thrive when given structure and boundaries, even if they grumble about it along the way. Allow space for autonomy and choice, but know you provide the ultimate say in situations.

5. Show that you care. With limited time together, it’s easy to get right to the business of grades, chores, and responsibilities with your teen. Take time to focus on the positive, too. Try small acts like leaving a note in their lunchbox or on their mirror, sending a text to ask how their big test went, or verbally expressing how much they mean to you. A few words go a long way!

6. Keep communication open. Check in with your teen to see how they are doing and really listen. It’s tempting to dive into advice giving, correction, or discipline mode, but try just being there as a listening ear. Teens are more likely to come to you in times of need when they know you’ll listen and not just lecture.

Parenting a teen is no easy task – neither is being a teen. A healthy relationship takes time and effort. These quick, easy methods support a positive relationship and healthy adolescent brain development. Show your teen you care and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Youth First Social Worker for support.

By Kelsey Crago, LSW – October 21, 2021 –

Learning to drive is an important milestone in a young person’s life. Take a minute to think back to that time in your youth. Driving has the power to provide freedom and helps instill a stronger sense of independence in teenagers.

This milestone not only brings changes to your teen’s life, but also to yours as a caregiver. You’ll have less running to activities and an extra hand with errands. You may also experience some fears and ask yourself, “How can I keep my child safe?”

According to the CDC, teenage drivers are nearly three times more likely than drivers over age 20 to be in a fatal car accident. The biggest contributing factor to this danger is simply lack of experience. Other contributing risks include texting and driving, speeding, unsafe vehicles, and use of alcohol and drugs.

How can we combat these risk factors as caregivers? Here are eight recommendations for keeping your teen safe on the road.

  1. Be informed. Stay up to date with your state’s driving restrictions for newly licensed drivers. Discuss and enforce these with your teen.
  2. Model safe driving habits. Make sure you’re setting a safe example when driving by avoiding phone use, following traffic rules, and utilizing a designated driver when consuming alcohol. Our kids are always watching and learning.
  3. Limit passengers. Crash risks are nearly double for teens with one passenger and increase with each additional passenger. Consider limiting your teen’s passenger privileges initially and gradually increasing privileges with driving experience.
  4. Limit nighttime driving. The most severe teen crashes occur between 9 pm and midnight. Practice supervised night driving with your teen. Consider setting a time restriction for your teen’s vehicle use and gradually allow later driving as your teen gains experience.
  5. Watch the weather. Bad weather increases risk of accidents for all drivers. Teens do not have the experience to react safely in dangerous conditions. Limit your teen’s unsupervised driving in bad weather, increasing privileges with supervised experiences.
  6. Stick to familiar roads. Unfamiliar or high speed roads increase your teen’s risk for an accident. Consider limiting your teen’s range of driving to familiar places. Allow time for supervised practice on highways, interstates, or unfamiliar settings before increasing privileges.
  7. Ban driving (and riding) under the influence. Any amount of alcohol or drugs produces impairment in teen drivers. Establish a safety plan with your teen that can be followed if they find themselves in this dangerous situation.
  8. Prioritize vehicle safety. Factors including engine power, vehicle size, and airbags need to be considered when choosing a vehicle for your teen. Spend time with your teen reviewing car maintenance and safety.

Statistics show a teen’s greatest improvement in safety occurs within the first year and after their first few thousand miles of driving. Following these recommendations can help keep teens safe while they gain driving experience.

Consider creating a driving agreement with your child outlining expectations and consequences. Being involved in your teen’s driving experience is a great opportunity to connect and build lasting memories!