How to Punish Teens for Not Listening to Parents

You may experience situations in which it’s obvious your teenager isn’t listening to you – either when you give specific instructions or when you communicate limits and boundaries for behavior and activities. When you take time to communicate with your teenager, part of the implied process involves your teenager engaging with you. You expect him to really listen to you so he understands and retains the information. You can encourage better listening skills by the way you respond when your teenager doesn't listen.

Follow through with whatever consequence you attached and promised would happen if your teenager did not perform or follow a rule. Because all rules need an attached consequence for times when a teen doesn’t comply, this gives rules weight and encourages teenagers to pay attention when you communicate your expectations.

Communicate the consequence to your teenager in a calm and matter-of-fact manner, advises the Child and Youth Health website 1. By minimizing conflict and high emotions, you encourage your child to maintain composure and deal with the consequence without high drama. For example, you might say, “I’m not sure why you didn’t take out the trash yesterday. It was on your chore list and I even reminded you. Remember, the consequence for leaving chores undone is losing your cell phone for one day.”

Give the teenager a chance to recover from the consequence to keep the child motivated and to encourage success, suggests Janet Lehman, MSW, with the Empowering Parents website. The consequences you set can be effective for helping your teenager stay tuned-in to your instructions and following through to meet expectations. Conclude the consequence with your teenager, saying something such as, “Here’s your cell phone back. I’m sure you’ll do better next time.”

Stay vigilant and consistent with your teenager to encourage effective listening and discourage tuning you out, counsels the Family Education website 3. Just as you impose consequences when your teenager doesn’t listen, offer praise as positive reinforcement when your teenager demonstrates better listening skills.


Consider the possibility that your teenager is listening, even when it seems apparent that he’s not, advises Joanne Stern, Ph.D., with the Psychology Today website. To conform to peer standards and fit in, a teenager may pretend not to listen to parents, when in reality, the teen does hear and is paying attention.

The difference between punishment and discipline can be an important distinction, especially for teenagers. Whereas punishment of a younger child might involve a time-out in a chair or sending the child to his room, discipline for a teenager is generally more effective when you utilize consequences connected to the infraction.