As a parent, it is your goal to raise a responsible child who makes good decisions. You pour your heart and soul into attaining this goal, only to find that your teen often makes poor decisions, acts on impulse, and behaves irresponsibly. You are not alone. These are situations that all parents of teenage children face at one time or another. Whether or not these issues signify a major problem in your household can be determined by the way that they are handled. Instituting family rules and dispensing appropriate consequences will allow you to address the situations appropriately and correct your child’s behavior in an effective manner.
Having an Arsenal of Effective Consequences
In order for rules to be respected, they must be accompanied by appropriate and effective consequences. The consequences of breaking a rule should be logical, and should be severe enough that the thought of the consequence acts as a deterrent for teens and children who are tempted to break rules. Without effective consequences, rules are likely to be ignored or simply broken. Having an arsenal of effective consequences that you can use at a moment’s notice is the best way to enforce your family rules and address your teen’s misbehavior.
In order to be effective, consequences should be immediate, whenever possible. The severity of the consequence should also reflect the severity of the rule infraction. More severe infractions impart severe consequences, where lesser infractions require a lesser consequence.
If you are struggling to implement appropriate consequences in your own home, read these suggestions below. You will find a description of the consequence, how to implement the consequence, and reasons why the consequence is effective. Additional consequence ideas can be found at http://parenttools.org under the Home Discipline Program. Here, you will also find advice on distributing awards in order to encourage appropriate behavior, while at the same time discouraging misbehavior.
How to use Time Out
Time out is routinely used with toddlers in order to remove them from an inappropriate situation and reset their behavior. This type of consequence is also effective when used with teenage children. The idea behind time out for teens is the same as it is for toddlers. The goal is to provide an immediate break from the situation at hand, whether it be a rule infraction or a disagreement with a parent, in order to allow the child time to consider their role in the situation. Time out for teenagers can last anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on the severity of the situation. Possible locations include their bedroom, a specific chair, a corner, or even a designated area of the house.
How to use Essays
Parents who really want their child to reflect on their behavior and the rules of the family should consider using essays as a consequence to misbehavior. Essays are a form of time out, in that they immediately remove a child from a situation. Rather than sitting quietly, however, the child must use the time to write an essay addressing the situation. Essays should include a description of the family rule that was broken, and how the child broke it. It should conclude with a description as to what choices should be made in the future in order to ensure that the rule is being followed. Decide whether you want to enact a rule regarding the length of the essay, such as two pages or 600 words. Essays are effective because they require a teen to put forth positive effort in order to correct their transgression, and encourage them to truly think about and address the situation which led to the essay in the first place.
Point Systems That Work!
Points systems can act as both a consequence and a reward for teenage children. The idea behind a points system is simple. When your teen behaves in an appropriate and desirable way, by following family rules, acting respectfully, and making appropriate decisions, they earn points to use toward a reward. When they act disrespectfully, break rules, or behave inappropriately, they do not earn the points necessary to enjoy a reward. In order to be effective, the reward must be something valuable to your teen. This means that the point system that you use will be unique to your family. If your teen values video games, for instance, he or she can earn points to trade for time spent playing video games. If your teen is hoping to take a trip with friends, they can earn points to apply toward money or permission to take the trip.
Grounding Your Child
Grounding is considered both a long term and short term consequence, depending on its duration. Grounding means that a child is not allowed to leave the home for activities, nor are they allowed to have company over to the home. There are two methods that parents can use when grounding their child. The first is to ground the child for a certain number of days, regardless of their action. The second is to ground the child until the child completes a task, such as 12 hours’ worth of house work or completing a book report for school.
Special Work Projects
For many teens, physical consequences are the most effective consequences. As such, many parents opt to impart special work projects as part of a consequence for teenage children who break family rules. The most effective work projects require a lot of effort or many hours of work. Special tasks, such as mowing the lawn, painting a room, or deep cleaning a part of the house are all effective means of instituting a special work project in return for disrespectful behavior or breaking rules. Other special work projects may be of an academic variety, and can include things such as additional book reports, special research projects, and even extra study hours.
Resources for Parents:
For more information and a FREE parenting video series visit: http://parenttools.org/
Parenting Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood
Parents who are having a difficult time instituting appropriate consequences for their teenage children will find valuable information in Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. This book is an excellent resource for parents of teens who wish to enact effective, logical, and natural consequences for their teen’s behavioral choices. The book discusses ways that parents can allow their child the freedom of choice, while implementing appropriate consequences for poor choices made on their child’s behalf.