Punishments for Teens

Deciding which type of punishment is suitable when your teen breaks a rule is something that parents occasionally struggle with. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, effective punishment cannot be too harsh or mild and should directly relate to the rule or "crime" being broken at the time. You might have to try a variety of punishments before you find the one that works for your family.

Mild Discipline

The American Academy recommends two types of mild discipline for your teen: actively ignoring his behavior and giving a time out. Do not confuse ignoring your teen with the silent treatment. Ignoring requires you to address to your teen that his actions aren't appropriate, and then refusing to acknowledge him until the behavior changes. Ignoring is an effective tactic when your teen sulks, whines or yells. Time outs are effective at all ages because they give your teen time to calm down and think about his actions before coming to a resolution.


Reprimanding your teen for his behavior might be tempting, but the AAP recommends using scolding as a punishment tactic sparingly and never when you feel that your emotions are irrational or out of control. Focus on the action that was wrong, not the person doing it. The AAP states that "nothing productive ever comes from humiliating a child."

Added Responsibility

Imposing additional responsibilities on your teen for his actions teaches that actions have immediate consequences and serves as a way for him to make up for his behavior 2. Your can assign him the responsibility of shoveling the driveway or instruct him that he can't go to the movies until the flower beds are weeded. Dr. Tomas Silber, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C recommends that parents ask their teen what they think an appropriate punishment will be. Dr. Adele Hofmann, as cited on HealthyChildren.org, a website from the American Academy of Pediatrics, notes that your teen might be more willing to accept his punishment if he gets to play a part in deciding what it is.

Losing Privileges

Privileges are rights that parents give their teenage children. When your teen disobeys you and breaks rules, you can take away certain privleges as a consequence for his actions. The privilege that you take away should be appropriate for the action. You might take away your child's video game system if he was late for school because he stayed up late playing games, or taking away the ability to go out with friends because he lied about where he was going.

Effective Discipline

Using excessive discipline can have negative effects. Some situations do not require strict consequences and might be best suited for a one-on-one conversation with your teen to figure out his reasoning behind breaking the rules 2. Even though you're supposed to be a parent, you can also be a confidant and someone your teen trusts to talk with. Stay involved with your teen's feelings and activities so that you will know if something seems odd and requires more attention. Don't forget to give your teen positive encouragement when his actions are desirable, such as completing homework without needing to be reminded or taking out the trash on time.