Teens are not young children in a nearly grown body. Their cognitive and emotional development is on a higher level than that of a younger child, and the consequences and disciplinary actions you place on them need to be creative so they produce positive results. The most effective consequences are those that impact their growing sociability.
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Make Them Effective
Your teen is no longer a small child for whom a time-out or grounding works. Creative consequences have to connect directly to your child’s misbehavior. If you gave her a specific, nonnegotiable curfew and she missed it by 30 minutes, the consequence has to relate to her curfew-breaking. Therefore, the consequence should make her realize she has to be in on time if she does not want to get an earlier curfew. Move her curfew back from 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. for two weeks. Her task is to comply. As she does so, return her curfew to its original time.
Cut Internet Access
As your teen gets older, his friends become more and more important to him as he begins to identify with his same-age peers. Shape his behavior and compliance with your rules. If he neglects his studies in favor of messaging his friends and his grades suffer, cut the Internet umbilical cord for two weeks. Lack of after-school and weekend access will hurt. He will learn that, in order to keep his Internet privileges, he has to fulfill his responsibilities with homework assignments.
Limit Your Social Butterfly
Your teenager has blossomed into a social butterfly -- she loves to meet her girlfriends on Friday nights and go to parties. Limiting her ability to be with, or talk to her friends will make an impact and catch her attention. If she is disrespectful to you in front of a friend, withhold her privilege to go out and be with her friends. When she misses planned get-togethers that some of her friends are going to participate in, this consequence will quickly teach her that lack of contact with those friends makes her miss out on activities she finds important. While she won’t be happy, she’ll realize she needs to obey you if she wants to interact with her friends.
A graduated series of consequences for increasingly severe infractions can work creatively with your teenager. This type of consequence works when you devise a set of disciplinary steps, ranging from least severe to most severe. The first level would be a simple discussion with your teen, letting him know he’s crossed a parental line; the second level is loss of a privilege; the third involves extending the loss of privileges by several weeks or one month; a more severe level should be reserved for very serious infractions, such as causing someone harm.
Use a Contract
Think proactively before your teenager begins to test her boundaries. Sit down with her and discuss family rules, her responsibilities and possible consequences for breaking the rules. Write out what you and your daughter have discussed. Have her sign it, then you and your partner should sign the contract. This puts everything in plain sight and she cannot use the excuse that she didn’t know about the rules. A second section can include specifics for earning back her privileges. When a rule is broken, follow through and stick to the contract.
Sit down with your teen and discuss any negative behaviors he is using. Think of two possible consequences for his misbehaviors – these have to be substantial consequences. If he has some input into what his consequences will be, he is more likely to learn from those, even if he is not happy about them. Possible consequences can include delaying obtaining his drivers license -- although this is painful for you and your partner, it may be an effective deterrent -- or losing his cellphone entirely.