How to Discipline Your Teen

It’s not easy being teen! But then, it’s not easy being the parent of a teenager, either.

Adolescence can be a challenging, stressful time for both teens and their parents. So as a Mom or Dad of a teenager, how do you walk the line between ‘not hurting their developing self esteem’ and ‘not yelling at the top of your lungs’? This is the 6 million dollar question for parents of teenagers. Whether the teen has broken curfew, talked back one too many times, or slacked off with school grades, there are a variety of reasons why parents of teens may find themselves in a position of needing to discipline their teenager.

How to Discipline Your Teen

Never Too Young to Say No

Hopefully as parents you have begun the job of discipline many years ago. From the time a toddler is taught NO! when approaching a hot stove, kids realize that they should listen to their parents, who have their best interests at heart. However, although a child may have been extremely well behaved in younger years, often when the hormones change, you may find yourself with a stranger in the house.

Reward Positive Behavior

One of the ways parents can earn respect and trust is by rewarding teenagers for positive behavior. Did your teen pick up a younger sibling at soccer for you or fill the dishwasher without being asked? Be sure to lavish praise on them so they are more likely to repeat the positive actions. You can go so far as offering financial reward- as in: ‘if you pick up some groceries, read some books to your sister, and clean up your room, I’ll pay for the new jeans you want.’ Teens are usually deal makers!

Consequences for Negative Behavior

Teens are constantly testing the limits of their parents’ patience. Usually parents figure out what behaviors they won’t accept when they happen. Teenagers need to be taught that it is not ok to be disrespectful, lazy, or unkind, and if exhibiting behaviors like these, they need to realize consequences occur. Grounding teens can be as simple as ‘unplugging’ one of their devices- which they could even choose- as in ‘ok, you got a C in Band- would you like me to take away your ipod, cell phone, or computer until that grade comes back up?’ Taking the car away or grounding teens from seeing friends are other obvious punishments for negative behavior.

Positive Discipline for Teenagers

Need more help? This book is a one-stop shopping resource for parents needing to learn effective ways to discipline a teenager. Positive Discipline for Teenagers by Jane Nelsen EdD (Three Rivers Press, 2000) shows parents how to break the destructive cycle of guilt and blame and work toward greater understanding and communication with adolescents. The book features ways to discover how to use judgment without being judgmental, how to use follow-through when disciplining your teen, and how to understand how your teen still needs you, but in different ways.

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