• 4 Guidelines to Follow When Discipling Teenagers

  • Disciplining Teenagers

    I believe that discipline is very important when it comes to teens and some parents tend to forget that. Many parents do not want to feel like the “bad guy” for punishing their child and it seems like this gets even harder for parents as their child grows up. I’ve seen many parents who seem to forget that their teen is still a child. Even though they may look more physically mature and they are no longer a little kid who needs to be told what to do all the time, they are still growing up and need their parents’ help and guidance.Teens still need discipline from their parents but it will look quite different than the way you disciplined them as young children. Now, the less disciplining you have done as your child was growing up, the more difficult it will be to implement this now but it is possible. Here are a few less talked about guidelines to keep in mind when disciplining teenagers: 

    1. Balance

    When it comes to disciplining a teen, remember that balance is important. As a parent, you don’t want to be too harsh and you don’t want to be too lenient either. Both extremes can have negative effects on your teen’s behavior and often times this is why teens act out. If you are too lenient, teens can take advantage of you and if you are too harsh, your teen can rebel against you. Remember that your teen is no longer a child and they can probably handle some more freedom and responsibility than when they were children. It is also important to remember that they aren’t adults yet so don’t expect them to be able to make responsible decisions completely on their own yet.

    Now, I’m not saying this is easy to do, it is very difficult to find the balance and the needs of each teen can be very different. Some parents try to do what worked with one teen with the younger sibling and don’t understand why they are getting different results.

    1.  Collaboration & Communication

    This brings me to my next point, collaboration with your teen is important because you will want to tailor your disciplining style to each individual. This means actually keeping your teen involved in your decision making process of what their consequences will be to certain behaviors. By collaborating, I don’t mean letting them make all of the decisions for you. I mean letting your teen have some say in what will happen to them. You still need to be in control but accept some of their input as well, don’t let them manipulate you. Let them come up with something like what their punishment or reward will be if they break a rule. What might be a punishment for one teen might not work for another teen so talk to them about it. This will make them feel more responsible and make both you and your teen feel that the punishment is fair when it comes time for it because they are the ones that came up with it!

    Although very similar to collaboration, I think of communication a little differently. To me, this means letting your teen know why certain rules are important to you. If you want their curfew to be 11:00, tell them why. Explain to them that as there are more drunk drivers out on the road the later it gets or that you want them home to get a good night’s sleep, etc. Whatever your reason is, I think it helps teens to know the reason rather than “because I said so.” This will help them learn to make important decisions for themselves as adults and have more respect for following the rules you set. It will also make them feel respected by you as a parent because you are taking the time to explain to them why it’s important. Remember how much you hated hearing “because I told you so” from your parents? I guarantee your teen will also hate hearing that!

    1. Don’t just punish, reward good behaviors too!

    Don’t just set up punishments for negative behaviors, reward your teens for their good behavior as well. You don’t want your teen to only learn what NOT to do, you want to teach them good habits as well. For example, maybe education is important to you and if they get a good grade on an exam, you will allow them to stay out an extra 30 minutes over the weekend. This puts the teen in control over certain things they may want and they will know exactly what they need to do to achieve it. This is how the real world works anyways. Hard work pays off and why shouldn’t your teen start learning this now?

    1. Consistency

    Although possibly one of the hardest parts to implement, consistency is key with discipline! If you aren’t really going to follow through with a punishment or reward, what motivation does your teen have to listen to your rules? It takes away your credibility and can also break their trust in you as a parent. Don’t just make the rules up as you go, establish them and make sure you are all in agreement to stick with them.  This way your teen will know what is expected of them and give them control over their behaviors. It can be helpful to even write a list of the rules to make sure you and your teen remember the rules you agreed upon and both stick to them!

    (To cover your bases, you can have a rule that if they do anything you decide is dangerous like driving too fast, using drugs, drunk driving, you have the right to determine the consequence.)


    Teens still need to guidance of their parents and having some guidelines that they can agree to will help make them feel loved. I’m not saying by any means that implementing these things are going to be easy and that is why I’m a big advocate of therapy. A therapist can help you as parents find your balance in your disciplining by acting as an unbiased 3rd party. Let me know too, do you have any discipling suggestions that I didn’t cover? I’d love to hear them!