Raising a teen is tricky. You have a young person who is your child, but not a kid anymore, yet at the same time not a grown-up either. Your teen seems to be stuck in a space between dependency and autonomy. At times, this space becomes a source of frustration for everyone involved.
Also, when a teen makes a mistake, it seems to have more serious consequences than it had a few years earlier. As a parent, you often feel like you are losing your mind, stranded between the role of a friend and a dictator. It’s like seeing a younger version of your former foolish self.
Even though we can’t change our teenager, we still need to teach them discipline and set clear rules. That’s why we resort to the power of punishment. Yet this method can have serious consequences on our child’s self-esteem and can even lead to shame and social isolation.
How can we parent our teens in a way that they take responsibility for the consequences of their behavior and attitudes without suffering the negative consequences of punishment?
Fortunately, most teens are capable of being reasonable if approached in the right way. Once you learn basic effective communication techniques and apply them in conversations with your teen, you’ll find that discussing, negotiating, and reevaluating becomes possible. You’ll be able to offer understanding but also expect to receive back recognition and empathy.
Here are several legitimate options that will support your positive parenting skills and help you avoid the pain of punishment:
1. Allow redemption. Teens are often well aware of their mistakes. Giving them a chance to right their wrongs is often more effective than depriving them of their favorite things.
- Make a deal with them to do extra chores, community work, or to pay for something they’ve broken. This will give them a sense of justice and teach them about consequences and responsibility.
2. Come to an agreement. If you prefer to ground your teenager, it’s important for you both to be on the same page. They have to know and agree on the consequences for their mistakes.
- Having well-defined rules for behavior is not the equivalent to being strict. Talk to your teen and let them know what you expect from them and why. Listen to their opinion on the matter. Healthy boundaries need to exist.
- When you ground your teen, limit only one aspect of their life. Minimizing is better than full deprivation. You don’t want to affect their social life or self-esteem.
- If you leave your child grounded for too long, the link between a penalty and bad behavior becomes blurry. Discuss grounding in terms of days, rather than weeks. One week is usually sufficient.
3. Allow natural consequences. Let your teen learn from their experience. Let them face the consequences that follow the unwanted behavior instead of punishing them.
- If they don’t study and end up having a bad grade, let them go through it. If they don’t do the laundry, don’t step in and do it for them, but let them end up not having anything to wear.
- However, be sure to talk about these experiences once they face them and show understanding of their emotions that follow.
4. Enhance your relationship. If your teenager is misbehaving, it’s healthy to ask yourself if something in your current relationship with your teen might be triggering this behavior. You may find that lately you’ve been judgmental, distant, or perhaps intruding and over-protective.
- Talk, listen, and be present. Make time for your teen’s problems, no matter how ridiculous they seem at times. Support your child to take responsibility for their actions but avoid placing blame.
Parenting is an ever-evolving process. As your child grows, you’ll need to change and adjust your parenting tactics. During teenage years, the challenge reaches its peak as they might feel like they’re all alone against the world.
Wouldn’t it be great to show that you are standing by their side?