Once a child hits the preteen years, she might start pushing limits and challenging rules in her quest for individuality and increased independence. Making house rules will be necessary for managing a preteen. Along with these rules, you will need consequences for the times your youngster disobeys and breaks the rules.
Purpose of Discipline
Approach parenting your preteen with an attitude of discipline instead of trying to manage behavior with punishment. When you discipline, you teach and guide your preteen to behave respectfully and responsibly. Through your firm, but loving, guidance, you instill self-control and good judgment, according to Cassandra Deas and Eboni J. Baugh, with the University of Florida Extension. Although your youngster is growing and maturing, he will still exhibit impulsive behavior and he may have trouble making positive choices without continued guidance.
Punishment has a negative connotation. On the other hand, consequences can be learning opportunities for preteens. Instead of yelling or berating your child or randomly removing privileges, use natural consequences to deal with infractions, suggests the FamilyEducation website. Natural consequences happen without any action on your part, so they can be exceedingly effective for teaching your preteen lessons about behavior. For example, if your youngster doesn’t do her homework, she’s going to experience consequences at school with grades. If a child doesn’t perform household chores, you may be too busy doing extra work to drive her to a friend’s house.
Responsibility and Reparations
Encourage responsibility by holding your child accountable for following household rules and limits on behavior, advises psychologist Laura Markham, with the Aha! Parenting website. If your preteen makes a mistake or opts to break a rule, discuss the infraction and encourage him to figure out how to make it right. For example, if your preteen doesn’t perform his household chores, ask him what he thinks he could do to resolve the infraction. Initially, you may need to brainstorm together so your youngster gets the idea of the consequences you have in mind, such as losing his cell phone for an hour while he does extra chores. Teaching your child to make reparations instills respect and the willingness to correct wrongs. It also demonstrates forgiveness as you show your youngster how to move past mistakes.
Ideas for Consequences
If your preteen becomes angry and needs to cool off, it’s reasonable to use a timeout with her, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. The difference between this timeout and one you might use with a toddler, however, is that the premise of a preteen’s timeout is using it to calm down. Once she’s cooled off, she can come find you to continue a discussion or to resolve a problem. Restrictions also work well with preteens. You might restrict activities or restrict the use of possessions, such as a computer or cell phone, as a consequence for misbehavior. Don’t forget to praise your youngster for positive behavior, too. Positive reinforcement of desired behavior often motivates more of the same behavior.