Raising teenagers is tough. We want to encourage them to test their boundaries in order to become competent, thinking adults, but still need to provide the structure and guidance they need. When your teenager misbehaves how do you handle it?
“Popular punishments for teens such as grounding and losing privileges don't hold children accountable at all,” says Kelly Pfeiffer, parenting expert. For teens to become responsible adults, they need to learn how their actions affect others and to make restitution. Here are a few common misbehaviors and related consequences that help teens learn.
Broke it? Fix it
Causing property damage, whether they broke their own computer or knocked down the neighbor’s fence, is a common teenage issue. When something is damaged, the logical restitution is to fix it. Have your teen come up with ideas on how he can pay for the damage to the computer or help the neighbor replace broken fence boards. Having to come up with the funds to fix the damage and participate in the repairs as well, will have a more lasting impact than simply losing cell phone privileges. “Effective teen discipline means teaching adolescents about real life and how they can truly make up for mistakes and misbehavior,” says Pfeiffer.
Bending the rules
Teenagers are always testing their boundaries -- it's part of their move towards independence. The rules you enforce in your house still need to be followed and your teen needs to understand why. If she comes home after her curfew, she has inconvenienced you and made you worry about her safety. Rather than ground her from any activities for a month, a fitting consequence would be to move her curfew 2 hours earlier for a week. Until she can show more responsibility, your needs come first -- to know that she’s home safe so you can get a good night’s sleep.
Every teenager behaves rudely at some point. Whether it's toward a family member, store clerk or teacher, it is disrespectful and needs to be addressed. A face-to-face apology -- or in some cases, written -- fits the behavior. In addition the teen should think of something kind she can do for the offended party. By putting a personal twist on this behavior the teen may think about how it feels when someone is rude to them.
Make your teen accountable for their actions to help them learn from their mistakes.