Your teen will misbehave occasionally, and the punishment you choose to correct the misbehavior can make the difference between continued difficulties or an attitude change for the better. The punishments you enforce should be short-lived, clear-cut and they should teach your teen a lesson about inappropriate behavior. However, it doesn’t matter what type of punishment you enforce if you do not consistently punish your teen for misbehavior. Occasional punishment teaches him nothing except that his behavior is not always going to get him in trouble.
Ensure that your teen fully comprehends your household rules and your punishment rules, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Make adjustments to the rules to suit her age because the rules she has at 16 should be a little different than the rules she had at 12. Allow her to give her input as to what she thinks is fair and compromise when appropriate so everyone is clear on household expectations. When she sees the rules as fair, she is more likely to obey them.
Sometimes teens learn best when they teach themselves a lesson. This is called natural consequence, which is the act of allowing your teen to suffer the consequences of her actions as they unfold naturally, rather than as you see fit, according to HealthyKids.org. For example, don’t ground her or take away her Internet access if she chooses not to study for a big exam. Let her suffer the natural consequence of failing the exam and anything that goes along with that, such as removal from extracurricular activities for her grades.
One rule for disciplining your difficult teen, according to the Children’s Trust Fund of Massachusetts, a program that provides family counseling, activities and classes, is to take away privileges when your teen’s behavior is difficult. For example, if your teen decides he doesn’t want to obey your curfew rules one weekend, you can take away a privilege that is important to him, such as his ability to drive for the rest of the week. However, be careful not to threaten to take away a privilege that isn’t conducive to your family’s lifestyle, such as taking away his cell phone when his after-school job has him working late hours and driving home late at night. You want him to be able to contact you in case of an emergency at that time of night.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises using short-term consequences when punishing your teen. The general rule is that consequences that last hours to days are often more effective to guiding teens to good behavior than consequences that last a month. For example, if your teen does not abide by your rules and you think grounding him is the best solution, stick to a few days or the weekend, but avoid punishments longer than that.