There’s no doubt that kids need discipline. When it comes to tweens, parents need to consider the age group they’re dealing with so that the discipline can be effective without being harmful. This is the time to consider how tweens are stuck in a category all of their own. They’re uncoordinated, awkward and are just learning some of the finer points of social boundaries. This is the time to teach those boundaries and rules without damaging the fragile self-esteem of the tween.
Give them options. When my son does something like come home late, I give him the option of being grounded for a couple of days or a week of coming home early. This method gives him some level of control while still teaching him about consequences.
Don’t overwhelm them with authority. Talk in a calm voice so that your child actually listens and has a chance to respond. If need be, sit down while talking so that you aren’t physically intimidating. Then you can talk to your child and send the right message.
Use education. Every instance of discipline is an opportunity for education. I even go so far as to use documentaries to discipline my child. Every now and then, he even enjoys them!
Give them what they want. Sometimes my tween wants to complain that there is nothing to do. The way I see it, I have two options. I either give him something to do so that he appreciate what he could have been doing or I show him what it is to have nothing to do. In other words, he can do some extra chores or he can sit on the couch and literally do nothing for a set period of time.
Unplug. Tweens seem to get lost in technology. Remove the video controls, keyboards and cell phones so that they actually have to deal with reality.
Discipline for the tween, not for yourself. Every time I’ve sent my child to his room I know I’ve made a mistake. The reality is that I need a break, but he’s actually just been sent to the very place where he can enjoy himself the most. Make gadgets and toys off limits if you do have to send your child to his or her room.
Choose your battles wisely. Every infraction does not need to be addressed. Life offers its own consequences that tweens are old enough to learn from.
Offer a second chance. The point of discipline is to teach rules. It shouldn’t be about power. If you think your tween has learned the lesson, there’s nothing wrong with cutting them some slack.
Address the infraction, not the tween. You need to make sure your tween knows that the infraction is the issue, not them personally. Temper your discipline with words of love.
Lead by example. You can’t expect your tween to follow rules that you break flagrantly. If I tell my child not to cuss, then turn around and use foul language, you can bet I’ll get the glare from him!
There are times when parents are at a loss. Those are not the times to discipline our children because we feel frustrated or angry. Instead, we need to step back for a moment and calm ourselves down so that we can think clearly and do the right thing.
References: Personal and professional experience