How To Discipline Teenagers: The Do’s and Don’ts

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It can be tough to discipline teenagers. They are at an age where they are trying to find themselves and become more independent. However, it is important to set boundaries and expectations with your teenager. The teenage years can present a unique challenge, as teenagers test both your boundaries and their independence, an action that can often present itself as disrespect toward you.

When your children reach an age where a timeout in the corner is no longer an effective discipline option, there are a couple different ways you can approach disciplining your teen. Here are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to disciplining your teenager.


● Talk to your teenager about your expectations and why you have them. This will help them understand where you are coming from and why you expect certain things from them.

● Be consistent with your rules and expectations. If you are inconsistent, it will be harder for your teenager to follow your rules.

● Give your teen a warning after the first occurrence and then lay out the possible consequences if the behavior happens again. Be clear with your consequences. If your teenager knows what the consequences are for not following your rules, they are more likely to follow them. If they do not understand why they are being punished, it’s hard for them to understand why their behavior needs to change.

Father with his teenage son

● Follow through with your consequences. If you do not follow through with your consequences, your teenager will not take you seriously and will be less likely to follow your rules. Relate the consequences to the action of disrespect when possible.

For example, if your teen disrespects you by ignoring his curfew, reduce the curfew hour to an earlier time as a punishment. This may not always be possible, as actions like back-talking do not necessarily have a related consequence. In such a case, use your best judgment to select a punishment that will get the message across that you are not okay with the disrespect and expect it to stop. It’s important that your teen understands that the discipline is not just an idle comment but will occur if she/he continues with the unwanted behavior.

● Make the punishment swift but strong. Stay away from long-term consequences that are more than a week long as they are difficult to follow through with or may be overly harsh. Instead, find firm consequences, such as being grounded from watching television for a week, no ipad or phone for a few days or from a specific event. These are easy to enforce and still provide a firm consequence. Also consider assigning specific chores around the house, such as cleaning, or outdoor chores, like mowing the lawn. These tasks should be things that your teen does not normally have to do.


● Yell at your teenager or get angry with them. This will only make the situation worse and make it harder for you to discipline them effectively.

Teenager being disciplined by Mom

● Don’t accept rudeness from your teenager. Stand firm on teaching them to treat you with respect. Letting the behavior continue without addressing it can make it more difficult to face the problem at a later time.

● Try to reason with them when they are in the middle of a tantrum or acting out. Wait until they have calmed down before you try to talk to them about what happened.

● Take away all of their privileges at once. This will only make them rebel more. Instead, take away one privilege at a time so they know that you mean business but that there is still hope for them to earn back their privileges.

Disciplining teenagers can be tough but it is important to set boundaries and expectations with them. By following the do’s and don’ts above, you can help discipline your teenager effectively without making the situation worse.

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