In the second part of Roy’s three-part look at the importance of helping teens set and respect boundaries, he explores the reasons helping teens with boundaries is so often a difficult process.


Why is teaching teens “boundaries” so hard? 

Because teens are human beings, not robots. Some learn faster than others, some have a natural proclivity to see where boundaries are and should be. Some teens are more naturally assertive and some are passive. There’s no one right way to set and respect boundaries, but there are some wrong ways. And usually we find out the wrong ways when it’s too late.


Boundaries are inherently nuanced. And teens are incredibly nuanced, their not always best at appreciating that nuance in others. You’re essentially saying to the person, yes, but no. That’s a nuanced position. This is very difficult for an insecure adolescent who’s dualistic brain craves simplicity and either/or thinking. Well you either like me and let me treat you the way I want to treat you or then you don’t like me and we’re not friends. 


Insecurity from strong competing needs to be included and stand out at the same time. (Another nuanced position- but one that is intrinsic to the human person and is especially heightened during the teen years). Anxiety about life and about friends causes teens to fear acceptance


Poor modeling. If you had poor modeling of boundaries in your life, or if you as a parent or other influential adult are modeling for the teen unhealthy boundaries, then its not a mystery why this teen is struggling as well. 

Learn through experience and teens have less life experience to draw from. For most people it takes a lifetime of not setting them poorly, not setting them at all and setting them too firmly. Setting boundaries is not a skill. It is a skill set that teens are often trying to assimilate. It takes listening, rational judgement, pattern interpretation and proper assertiveness levels. 3. They’re relating more poorly overall b/c of a decreasing proficiency at social skills.