Three Steps to Disciplining Teens


Snap, crackle, and crunch. Just as your child is beginning to express himself through some rather typical, yet irritating teen behaviors, the time is right to pour on the…uh, respect. Yes! Flare-ups of disrespect and rudeness in teens can be quite normal, but getting a grip on it requires something different than what you did when the child was two or seven. It is during these trying times that teens need your finest examples of kindness, understanding, love, tolerance, and respect and anything else that resembles civility and humanity. Add a little parental firmness and throw in a few sane consequences, and you've got a recipe for correcting a teen's behavior without loosing your mind. I'm not saying be shy on the tough love stuff, but I am saying put your child's dignity (and yours) first, before showering on the firmness and consequences. It will save you lots of headaches and time. How to do that??? Try these techniques:

1) Get to the point quickly - address the inappropriate behavior through a calm discussion. Getting "loud" with a teen is only effective if you are calm 95% of the time. Yes, sometimes it is necessary to raise the volume, but use it sparingly. If you feel you aren't getting the full truth behind the issues, let them know it and provide them room for correcting their story. Teens cultivate lies out of fear, and a few other reasons. Remove the fear of telling the truth, stick to the issue at hand and thank them for any honesty that you get.

2) Select a consequence - one that is firm, sends the appropriate message, addresses the issue as best possible, and yet is fair to your child. Sometimes it helps to let them select a consequence from a list of options. This can be especially effective in getting them to work with you on behavioral issues.

3) Be firm - hold your child to the consequence selected--accountability on your part is everything. Children count on their parents to be strong and to mean what they say.

Sounds simple, but does it work? It can, but only if you are consistent, firm, and fair. Lacking either of these can throw things out of control which is when the arguing starts and the attitudes flair. Remember this--discipline at its best is a time to teach children about safety, good behavior, right from wrong, and making sound choices and decisions. Deliver punishment without consistency, firmness, and fairness and you've lost the battle.


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