How to Discipline Teens Who Are Late to Class

The teen brain is wired slightly differently than children and adult brains, according to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Not only do teenagers need more sleep than adults, but their brains also become more active during the nighttime hours. This increased brain activity can lead them to stay up late and have a hard time getting to school on time in the morning 1. Even so, when teens are late to class, you’ll need to provide discipline to discourage the behavior 1.

Speak with your teenager about the tardiness. Tell your child you expect him to be on time to class. Ask your teenager whether he needs help scheduling his time or figuring out when he needs to get up or leave the house to arrive on time to class. If he asks for help, provide it.

Tell your teenager that you will not provide a written excuse for tardiness that he could have avoided with better organization and planning. Explain to your teenager that he needs to accept this responsibility and make adjustments so he will not continue to be late.

Speak with someone at the school, such as a principal or teacher, about your teenager’s tardiness when the school informs you of the issue. Assuming your teenager is late because he is having difficulty managing his time in the morning, explain the circumstances to the school official. Tell the school you are trying to encourage your child to accept more responsibility for getting himself to school on time.

Step back and let the school exact penalties and consequences on your teenager 1. Most schools have tardiness rules in place with connected consequences for teens that exceed a maximum number of tardy marks within a specific period of time. A common consequence is after-school detention.


It’s important to make teenagers bear the responsibility for lateness during high school, according to the Empowering Parents website. Developing the skill of arriving on time for appointments, school and work begins during adolescence. You do your child a disservice if you do not encourage him to develop this responsibility and skill before he leaves home. If a teenager is resisting responsibility for tardiness, you might consider tying a home consequence to school detentions that your child receives. Perhaps your child will lose his cellphone for a specific time or you might give him an earlier curfew for a few nights. Provide incentives for a teenager to be on time, as well. Allow your teenager to earn additional privileges if he changes his tardiness habit.