How to Enforce Rules for Teens

Parenting a teen might seem like a never-ending battle over homework, clothes, discipline and friends -- but the hard work now will pay off later when your child is capable of making responsible decisions 1. Your teen might protest the rules, but the structure and boundaries provide him the stability and guidance needed to get through one of the most challenging periods of his adolescence. It also isn’t any fun to enforce the rules, but you can make enforcement easier by talking about the rules with your teen.

Sit down with your teen and discuss appropriate rules. Discussing the rules together gives your teen some feeling of control in the situation. It also ensures that there are no misunderstandings when it comes to the rules.

Ask yourself a few questions when you create the rules to make sure they’re reasonable. Whose needs do the rules meet? Is the rule for the benefit of your teen or just for your convenience? Think of other parents you know and respect -- are the rules consistent with what they would do?

Plan appropriate consequences for the rules. Grounding your teen because he did something he shouldn’t have on the computer might not be as appropriate as taking away computer privileges.

Keep the consequences reasonable to help ensure enforcement. Grounding your teen or taking away the computer for six months might lead to noncompliance because those consequences are so extreme.

Reign in your own emotions before enforcing the rule so you can reasonably discuss the consequences and respond to any argument from your teen.

Discuss why the rule and consequence is appropriate when a rule is broken so it’s not just about the punishment. If he broke a computer rule, discuss the dangers of the Internet including cyber bullying and sexual predators.

Keep consistent when it comes to enforcement. If your teen gets away with something once, the rule becomes meaningless and he’ll try to get away with the same thing again.

Follow any rules that might apply to yourself, such as no cussing or picking up after yourself.

Reconsider the rules every once in a while to ensure they are still appropriate. Over time, you might need to move a curfew later or reconsider TV or computer use.