Disciplining teenagers can be a nightmare, and can drive a huge wedge between the parents and kids. This is especially true for single parents, who often find themselves in a bidding war with their ex, each side spending more and disciplining less in an attempt to win the teenager’s affections.
Why Disciplining Teenagers is Important
Some people will tell you that once your child hits their teens you have really lost the opportunity to effectively discipline them. This is simply not true, but you do have to modify the way in which you set about disciplining them. The methods that work for a 5 year old or even a 10 year old tend not to work as well once your child hits their teens!
So here’s our Top Ten Tips on how you can discipline teenagers effectively…
1. Make Your Rules Simple
Disciplining teenagers needs to be kept simple, and your rules must make sense to them. Choose important rules and learn to let some of the little things slide by without comment from you.
2. Make your Rules Clear
Teens tend to have an overdeveloped sense of what is fair, and what is not. If you keep your rules clear, and tell them before they transgress, then it will be a lot smoother sailing. If your ex constantly undermines them at their house, make sure they teen understands that your home is different.
3. Make the Consequences Proportional
Teens need to feel that the consequences are not only fair, but also are in proportion to the disobedience. I tend to be harder on defiance and rebellion than if they forget and stay out too late, or leave their room untidy. Sometimes even a troublesome ex can understand and start to apply sensible, proportional rules, and then you have a united front for disciplining teenagers!
4. Make the Rules and Consequences Consistent
In disciplining teenagers as in any age, consistency is the key. You cannot overlook a rule one day and expect to enforce it the next, so make rules, make them clear and stick to the consequences, even if enforcing them is awkward for you.
5. Set Times and Consequences
Parenting teens requires you to set times for them, and make then stick to them. If you want them in bed a certain time, or want them home, set a consequence and stick to it. If you give them 2 hours on the computer, warn them as the end approaches, then switch it off at the time. As long as you warn them, they know it is coming and it’s fair. Don’t let them con you into another 10 minutes (“Oh come on, dad lets me do it!”).
6. Take the Emotion out of Disciplining
The teenage years are often highly emotional, with teens trying to deal with the hormones running rampant through their bodies. If you then get emotional, a screaming match will often result. Take the emotion out of it, step back and tell them what they have done and the consequences of their actions. Don’t argue, just tell them without emotion and follow through. You do not want a major confrontation.
7. Communicate in Their Language
Teenagers basically speak text and Facebook these days. If you want to communicate, speak the same language. New rules and consequences: try texting them and then you know they have got it.
8. Stand By Them
At some point they will want you to stand by them, no matter what they may have done, and no matter whether you agree with them or not. If they turn to you in trouble, let them know you are with them and willing to help, and realize that this is not the time to apply heavy discipline. Many times they will sort things out themselves, but they just want to know you have their back when they need you.
9. Always Encourage Them
When disciplining teenagers you need to encourage them somehow too. You might be furious, but always have some word of encouragement, afterwards or before. For example, “ I appreciate that you came home, but you were 2 hours late and never called, so you know what that means… grounding!” Watch what you say carefully because many frustrated moms and dads have deeply hurt their teens with words.
10. Love Them No Matter What!
Always tell them you love them, in fact, do it every day. They may roll their eyes, they may shrug it off, but say it enough and they will cherish it. Beyond this, always act in love towards them, and tell them your love is unconditional.
It is never a fun time being the ‘bad cop’, especially if the ex is always having fun with the kids. However, if you apply these 10 tips, disciplining teenagers can and will be profitable for both you as a parent and your teenager as well.