Raising a teenager can be a challenge. You want them to explore their independence and make decisions for themselves, but you also want to protect them and keep them from making bad decisions. Most teenagers think they know more about life than their parents. However, most parents recognize that their teenagers tend to know very little about how their decisions and actions can impact their future. Yes, it’s a challenging time. This when it comes in handy to know how to discipline a teenager. This article will help provide you with parenting strategies to implement effective discipline for teens. You can survive the teen years with a loving and healthy relationship.
Discipline For Teens
To start with, let’s look at the definition of discipline to make sure we are all on the same page. The Oxford Languages Dictionary defines discipline as, “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.”
Discipline begins with teaching kids to obey the clear rules set by the parents. If this is done well when children are younger, they will develop a trust with the parent that they will be loathe to break as teens.
If you are just introducing discipline for the first time during the teenage years, it may be more challenging because they may not be used to following rules and understanding logical consequences. They may want to test their limits and determine just how much you mean what you say. Follow through is essential. Therefore, be sure to start with smaller, reasonable punishments if they break the rules. Your message of discipline should not be punitive. A punishment only comes into play when there is blatant disobedience.
Discipline for teenagers should be about developing clear guidelines that are intended to help them develop good practices and keep them safe. It is a good idea to get teens on board with your discipline by explaining the rules clearly as well as the importance of the rules. If the rules are there to keep them safe, they need to know that. If the rules are there to help them develop good study habits, it helps them to understand that. In this sense, discipline for teens and learning to obey the rules is all about training them to make good decisions for themselves. It is about helping them understand consequences.
How To Get Teens To Obey Rules
To help your teen feel more in control of their life while still accepting parental guidance and rules, there are a few things you can do. These are the basics of how to discipline a teenager.
- Communicate openly with your teen. Talk about your expectations and why you have these. Talk about responsibilities such as chores and helping out around the house. Create a safe environment for your teen to speak freely with you. Be open to listening their point of view. If they feel shut down, they are not likely to express their opinions and they may not buy into your rules.
- Talk about limits and rules. Guide them toward appropriate choices as you set limits together. Agree on limits such as how late they can stay out, how much screen time they can have, and what is expected of them with their school work.
- Discuss consequences. Make sure your teen is aware that there will be consequences for not following the rules. They should understand the possible negative natural consequences as well as the punishment for disobedience. The punishment doesn’t have to be very specific but teens should know the general method you will use. For example, extra chores.
When Disciplining Teenagers
Be flexible when the situation calls for it. Maybe your teen has a regular 10 PM curfew on the weekends, but they can stay out a bit later on prom night or for a concert. When your teen sees that you can be flexible and work with them a little, they’ll try a little harder to respect the rules. Also when they do the right thing, reward their good behavior by acknowledging it- “Good job getting home before curfew. It really helps me know you are OK.” It is an effective way to encourage positive results.
Set limits, not commands. Teens don’t usually like being told what to do, but when limits are set with respect, they, in turn, become more respectful. As long as they know the clear expectations in advance and know the reasons for them (i.e. you worry about them) they’ll be more willing to accept those limits. It’s the best way to avoid a power struggle. Talk to them about effects of social media on mental health. Ask them how much time they think is too much time on social media. Help them to make better choices.
Be open to communication and forgiveness. If your teen wants to talk about their punishment or apologize for their behavior, be open to having a loving conversation with them. Don’t stay angry once they apologize. Everyone makes mistakes. Trust in effective consequences. Everyday is a fresh start.
Before punishment ever comes into the picture, you must make sure you have laid the ground work of establishing a discipline for them to follow. It’s important to communicate with your teen, lay ground rules, and talk about consequences of not following the rules. Surprising your teen with a punishment when they didn’t realize they were doing something wrong isn’t fair and will push them away.
Good Punishments For Teens
Once you have set reasonable rules and your teen has to be disobedient, punishment is completely appropriate. In fact, it is important to follow through with consequences when rules are broken and responsibilities are not met. Just make sure not to deliver punishment in anger. You don’t want your emotions to cloud your judgement about what a reasonable punishment may be. It is OK to say, “You have broken the rules and there will be consequences. We can discuss the punishment tomorrow after I have thought it over.”
Make the punishment fit. If they missed curfew, maybe they have to come home earlier the next time or do some extra work around the house. If they didn’t do their chores, maybe they have extra chores the following week. Psychology Today suggests the most effective punishment for teens is reparation and says, “reparation is an active punishment that prescribes tasks to be done to work off the offense.” Selecting the appropriate punishment will help young adults understand that there are negative consequences without making you seem like an unfair authoritarian.
How to discipline a teenager who doesn’t care about consequences:
First, if your teen doesn’t care about consequences or won’t listen on a regular basis, this may be a sign that your relationship is in trouble. Have you been a reliable role model? As a first step, do a check with yourself and see what emotions you are feeling from your teen. I am guessing anger. Try to get to the bottom of the those feelings and repair the strained relationship. It may be a good idea to seek professional help and get expert advice if larger issues such as drug use are in play. Next, make sure you are using the right consequences.
Another method of punishment for teens is to take away privileges. This method should be used judiciously as it is a very serious punishment for teens. They enjoy certain luxuries living in your house, but they might get the point if privileges are taken away. For instance, taking their electronic devices, removing their television, or taking their car keys will certainly help them get the message that there are consequences and they should follow the rules to avoid this punishment.
In my house, the deprivation punishment is most often loss of computer privilege once my 15 year old son is done with completing his homework at the kitchen table. When I remove my son’s computer privileges, I do not take away his cell phone. The punishment is to not watch youtube or play video games but I still want him to be able to talk to his friends. I instruct him to keep his bedroom door open so that if I walk by I can see he is not using his phone for youtube or video games.
Words of caution
As far as discipline strategies go, this is typically the one that meets with the most resentment. Never remove all of their privileges at once or they will have nothing left to lose.
Use this deprivation method of punishment for only a matter of days, not weeks.
You don’t want to cut off a teenager’s social outlets or their activity outlets. Teens, these days especially, need to be encouraged to in their person to person social interactions. However, if there is a certain friend that is not a good influence on your child, you should discuss that together and deal with it accordingly.
Lastly, know that they are teenagers. They are going to exhibit typical teen behavior. Their goal is to test limits and create independence. This is completely normal. And your goal is keeping them safe and helping them learn to judge the consequences of their actions. That is why discipline is normal too. One day they won’t have you for day-to-day guidance and they need to learn to live on their own. With some open communication, teens can learn to respect their parents and obey the rules. You and your teen can enjoy a happy and healthy relationship.
Remember that discipline is a process. The goal of discipline is to help young people develop a sense of responsibility and learn to make good choices for themselves. You and your teens will be both be learning to adjust to each other as you go. Communication is key to the success of discipline. I hope you found these tips for how to discipline a teenager useful. Which of these tips did you find most useful for disciplining a disrespectful teenager?