How to Discipline Your Teenager



Contrary to popular belief among teenagers, we as parents do not set rules to control their lives. Setting boundaries and dealing out discipline is about teaching the teen about accountability and morality. Boundaries and discipline help reinforce the teen’s distinction between what is right and what is wrong. Having to deal with the consequences teach your teen about self-discipline.

Consistency is Key


Consistency is the key to enforcing boundaries and rules. These rules are also only effective when you back them up. Be empathetic to your child’s reasoning or excuses for their behavior but do not let them deter you from what counts, which ultimately is to enforce the consequences of poor choices.Your teenager will test their boundaries and as a parent, will need to reinforce them. It might even give rise to conflict on occasion but it helps to remind your teen that you agreed on the boundaries and consequences together. They were aware of the outcome their choices would have, you having to enforce the consequences is due to their own decisions.


Using Consequences as a Form of Discipline


Consequences are a clear reminder to your child to think before doing. Consequences are not only reflective of negative behavior, praise and rewards are also the consequences of good behavior which translates into your teen considering and thinking about their actions before acting. Here are a few tips to consider when approaching the discussions on the consequences around boundaries and rules.


  1. Consequences must fit the action, the purpose behind the consequences is to encourage your child to think and make decisions. For instance, your teen returns home an hour later than the agreed curfew time. Remind them why their action was not acceptable and consequences are that curfew is now an hour earlier.  Overtime and with good behavior, you can reconsider adding the hour back as a reward.
  2. Never approach the consequences while angry. Lead by example and discuss the consequences rationally.
  3. Taking away your child’s resources and privileges one at a time, give them room to consider their actions.Taking away their freedom serves no purpose other than to fuel an already angry situation and in reality, they have nothing left to lose so why should they even bother addressing their behavior.
  4. Do not strip your child of their identity or self-esteem. By taking away resources that encourages and supports the development of your teen serve no positive purpose, such as, denying them access to sports or extra mural activities.
  5. Do not use consequences or punishment that isolates your child. Rather remove part of their social communication temporarily, such as losing internet or smartphone privileges for a weekend and banishing them to their rooms without any social contact or interaction.
  6. You cannot ground your teen for life, this descriptions most parents resort to when angry. Grounding is short-term and considered a reminder to encourage your child to make choices. Taking your child away from social interactions and isolating them for long periods could have a negative impact. It is kind of like the donkey and the carrot scenario, just in reverse, the carrot in this case are the consequences and enforcing them is to remind your child that there are reactions for their choices and decisions.


Discuss the consequences of your child’s actions with them. When putting in place boundaries and rules, agree up front about the consequences for those boundaries, this way your child is aware that their poor decisions or choices are directly responsible for the consequences enforced.