The 8 Most Effective Ways to Discipline Teens

Strategies to Address Misbehavior

Set limits with your teenager.
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Disciplining teens can be tricky business. It’s important to give your teen enough freedom to make mistakes and plenty of guidance to help her learn to do better next time. Provide your teen with clear and consistent discipline that focuses on teaching, not punishing her for for making mistakes.

1. Restrict Privileges

Taking way privileges can be one of the best ways to teach your teen to make healthier choices.

This may include grounding your teen from going places or taking away specific privileges for a specified period of time.

Restricting your teen’s privileges will only be effective if you take away something that your teen enjoys. It should cause enough discomfort so your teen won’t be tempted to make the same mistake again. Set clear guidelines about when or how your teen can earn back those privileges.

2. Create a Behavior Contract

Behavior contracts clearly outline your expectations for your teen’s behavior. It should also outline what happens if your teen breaks the contract.

A behavior contract can be useful when your teen wants more privileges or when your teen is asking for extra responsibility. Creating a contract ahead of time will help your teen learn the importance of honoring a written deal. It will also help show your teen that privileges need to be earned.

3. Allow for Natural Consequences

Teens sometimes need to experience the natural consequences of their behavior.

For example, if your teen fails to do her homework, the natural consequence is that she gets a zero. If she cares about her grades, that could be an effective way to help her learn to be more responsible next time..

You should only allow for natural consequences when your teen is going to earn a valuable life lesson.

It's also important to make sure it's safe to let your teen make a mistake. Allowing a teen to drink alcohol or exceed the speed limit could have deadly consequences.

4. Assign Extra Responsibilities

There may be times when it’s necessary to impose additional responsibilities for your teen to complete. For example, you can give your child extra chores to do as a consequence for misbehavior.

Assigning extra chores or responsibilities will make your teen take proactive measures to address the misbehavior. Any teen who is told he can't get his privileges back until he's mowed the lawn, finished the laundry, and washed the car may be motivated to make better choices in the future. 

5. Ignore Mild Misbehavior

You might choose to ignore minor misbehaviors. This can be a very effective consequence when your teen is trying to engage you in a power struggle.  

However, it’s imperative to carefully choose which behaviors you will ignore. Serious or unsafe behaviors should never be ignored.

6. Provide Opportunities for Restitution

Restitution, which is sometimes referred to as restorative justice, means allowing your teen to make amends. It’s a way for your teen to make up for some of the damage if a behavior hurt someone else.

For example, a teen who borrows her sister’s shirt without asking and then rips a hole in it, may not only have to buy her sister a new shirt but might also have to make her sister’s bed for the week.

Restitution gives your child a chance to try and repair some of the damage that may have been done to a relationship. Learning to ask for forgiveness then going a step further and show an extra kindness is an important life lesson.

7. Provide Logical Consequences

Logical consequences are consequences that are directly related to the misbehavior. For example, if your teen is having difficulty getting up in the morning for school, a logical consequence would mean an earlier bedtime.

Logical consequences help teens remember why they got into trouble in the first place. It can also serve as a good reminder to avoid making the same mistake again.

8. Reward Good Behavior

Healthy discipline shouldn’t be just about negative consequences. Instead, it should also include some positive reinforcement. 

If your teen is struggling with certain issues or behavior, implement a reward system. Sometimes simple rewards can be very effective tools to motivate your teen to change.

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