The Removal of a Teen's Door for Discipline
Teenagers experience mood swings and strong emotions as they grow more independent from their parents. Some parents consider removing the door to a teenager's room as a form of discipline, but the efficacy of this method depends on both the reason for the door removal and how parents go about removing and giving back the door.
Natural and logical consequences for misbehavior work well for children, teens and adults. When teenagers get in the habit of slamming their bedroom doors to express anger, it is a logical consequence for the parent to remove the door for a specific amount of time. The message is, "If you can't use the door appropriately, you may not have a door."
The concept of "positive discipline" goes beyond not using corporal or harsh punishments. The Department of Special Services for Fairfax County Public Schools offers advice on positive discipline techniques. Before removing a teen's door, discuss with him the specific behavior that will be punished. For example, "If you slam your door again I will remove your door through the weekend." Remain calm, and do let him know for how long the punishment will last. If he responds by not slamming his door all day, make a point of noticing and complimenting him on the improved behavior.
Slamming the door can be an unsafe and violent expression of rage and anger. According to an article at Empowering Parents, social worker Janet Lehman reminds parents to give consequences for behavior, not for anger. Slamming the door is an inappropriate way to express anger; therefore, consequences are reasonable. But the teen needs to have an appropriate way to express anger. These ways could include taking time to calm down and then being allowed to say in a calm tone what is making him angry. If you offer no appropriate way to express anger, punishments will not work as well.
Some parents are concerned about their teenager's risk-taking behaviors, such as drinking and sexual activity. Removing the child's door can decrease their privacy, but they will simply use the bathroom when they need privacy. Removing the door is not a way to monitor unsafe behavior. At Raising Troubled Kids, author and child mental health advocate Margaret Puckette suggests that teens who routinely damage property, are violent and routinely slam doors, or engage in other unsafe behavior might need more intervention than a parent can offer 1. Speaking with a counselor to help the child learn to cope with anger might be required.
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