Effective Consequences for Teenagers

Raising a teenager is a totally new task after raising a child. Teenagers still need boundaries and guidance, but you’ll probably find that the methods you used when your children were younger aren’t appropriate anymore. In fact, they won’t work at all.

Your role as a parent is to prepare your teen for adulthood. They’re almost there, and you can help them cross over and become a responsible adult. You won’t do this by controlling their every move, though. Here are some steps to help your teen to mature through clear boundaries and effective consequences for crossing those boundaries.

First of all, make your expectations clear. It can’t be stated enough: boundaries must be clearly defined and communicated. Muddy lines, when it comes to behavioral expectations, will just drive the whole family crazy. The first rule is to communicate.

When you’re devising your house rules, take the whole family’s ideas into consideration. Nobody likes living with a dictator. If you consider your teen’s input, they will likely have more respect for the rules, even if you can’t approve all of their proposed additions.

Now that everyone knows what the rules and expectations are, be equally clear about the consequences for breaking those rules. Try to make the consequences as natural as possible. After all, you want your teen to develop a sense of right and wrong, not just do as they’re told. In the real world, if you drive like a crazy person, you don’t get to drive anymore, at least for awhile. If you’re late for work, you might get a written warning and eventually lose your job.

Here are some examples of logical, relevant consequences: If your teen breaks curfew, consider making the curfew earlier, or having a weekend in with friends. There’s no need to take away the TV, video games, car keys, and cell phone over an issue of disregarding time schedules. On the other hand, if your teen has done something reckless and dangerous, such as driving under the influence, a more stern consequence is definitely needed. Taking away the car keys for an extended period would be totally appropriate. You should also seek counseling of some sort, to get to the root of the problem.

Resist the urge to rescue your teen from the natural consequences of their actions which fall outside house rules. For example, if they get a bad grade because they didn’t do their work or didn’t study, it’s not the time to go yell at the teacher. If anything, it’s time to help your teen review their schedule and make sure they’re getting any help they need if the subject is difficult. If your teen has a credit card and runs up a debt, you’ll help them best by letting them feel the consequences: now they’ll have to work more and save up some money. Help them learn to save and to budget. Bailing them out by paying their bill will not help them learn how to manage their finances.

It’s difficult to watch your young child grow up, transform into a young adult, and appear to not need you anymore. In reality, though, your children will always need you in some way, and they will always love you. Right now what they need from you is help transitioning into adulthood, being there at their side while they make mistakes. They need you to support and guide them, not belittle them or rescue them.