Creative Consequences for Teenagers

Consequences should be disciplinary and not punitive -- in other words, it's more effective to give your teenager a consequence for inappropriate behavior that teaches her how to display the desired behavior than it is to simply punish her. Colleen Gengler, an educator in family relations at the University of Minnesota Extension, explains that "discipline means to 'teach,'" and positive discipline helps teens learn to effectively solve problems and manage conflicts. Creative consequences can help parents present their teens with fundamental life lessons while helping teens recall what they learned from these disciplinary actions 1.

Community Service

While community service is often a voluntary effort, parents can involve kids in community-service work as a consequence for disrespectful behavior toward others or property. Community service teaches children to think of others by offering helpfulness and showing compassion. Community service is also used as a punitive consequence by law-enforcement agencies, so this will teach your child what to expect if he ever engages in criminal activity.

Essay Writing

If your child chooses to disobey curfew or "borrows" your car without permission, you could instruct her to write an essay on expected behavior in the home. This consequence is an exercise that allows your child to reflect on why her behavior was inappropriate, and to consider some of the natural consequences that could have resulted from noncompliance with house rules, such as getting into a car accident. Encouraging your child to write down these ideas can teach her to make better choices in the future.

Removal of Privileges

In some cases, privacy is more of a privilege than a right. Some teens share bedrooms with other siblings, giving them a small amount of privacy within these arrangements, while others are privileged to more privacy as sole occupants of their rooms. In an article posted on the "TODAY Moms" section of NBC's "Today" show website, one mother recalls when her parents took her bedroom door off of the hinges because she slammed the door in their faces to express her anger. Such an act can remind your teen that she will have to use respectful words to express her frustration, especially if she has no door to slam.

Practice Makes Perfect

Children sometimes attempt to get out of doing tasks by partially completing them. Parents can teach their children to complete tasks effectively and in their entirety by instructing them to practice washing dishes or vacuuming their rooms, for instance, as often as possible. If your child is generally required to wash dishes once a day and has been doing a mediocre job just to spite you, offer him the opportunity to practice washing dishes appropriately twice a day for the duration of one or two weeks until he gets it right.