10 Tips for Disciplining Your Teen

“But Mom! That’s not fair!” We’ve all heard it. Or worse: “I hate you!” I’m no exception and I’m far from a perfect parent. As the mother of seven kids (some mine, some steps, and three who have miraculously reached adulthood alive), I have learned a few things. Here are 10 tips I use to keep our household running smoothly and our children talking to us.

Be Reasonable

If rules are so strict that walking outside the lines is inevitable, children eventually make the decision to ignore them, since they can’t abide by them anyway.

Be Flexible

I know of one child whose parents wrote every rule in stone. One such rule was a midnight curfew. In an effort to avoid being late one Friday night, he raced a train at a crossing. The train won. If your teen knows that they will be heard and treated fairly on those occasions when they don’t meet certain obligations, they will be more likely to make good decisions.

Be Available

Communication is vitally important. Disciplining children for wrong-doing, but failing to help them realize what they did wrong, is counterproductive. Listen to your children and teach them how to make better decisions.

Be Fair

If we ground our child for every infraction, the discipline loses its effectiveness. If your child engages in behavior that puts them in physical danger, the discipline should be more severe than if they were safe, but forgot to check in. Yes, you worried, but ultimately there was little harm.

Be Consistent

Consequences are not the same for each of our children, but the discipline we provide to each child remains consistent. If consequences for repeated behavior will escalate with each instance, make sure your child understands this ahead of time.

Be Proactive

One of our children tends to misbehave far more often if he’s allowed to play video games. We limit the kinds of games he can play, and how often. This has resulted in better behavior on his part, and less discipline on ours.

Be a Mentor

When our children reach a new milestone (a driver’s license, for instance), we discuss what temptations may be presented, and possible choices we might make. Consequences for misbehaving are established in advance.

Be Dependable

If our child has committed to a school play or other “team” activity, even grounding can’t take that away. They may be prevented from auditioning for the next play, however.

Be There

Grounding is only effective if you ground yourself as well. If your child simply cannot be reasonable and needs some alone time, so be it. But we don’t relegate our children to isolation in their bedroom. Take advantage of that time to have a family game night.

Be Kind

Yelling never helps. Arguing creates negativity and undermines your authority. Make sure your child hears that you love them and the discipline is for their benefit. Be firm, but not mean.

Source: Personal experience

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