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Parenting 101: 4 good punishments for teens that actually work

Appropriate punishments for teens beyond grounding

Teenagers are like toddlers — they know how to push your buttons and they love to test their boundaries. It’s in the teen handbook and unfortunately for parents, teen angst comes with the territory of growing up and becoming independent. Of course, teens will make mistakes along the way. Some adolescent errors are forgivable while others have more long-term repercussions. As a parent, it is important to make sure your teen is being smart, safe, and respectful while navigating his or her way through adolescence. If teens aren’t, then you need to find appropriate punishments for teens. When a punishment is needed to discipline your eye-rolling, knows-everything teen, you want to choose one that teaches a vital life lesson. Sometimes punishments do call for tough love, which isn’t always easy for parents.

Not all punishments are created equal. Some are more effective than others, which is why it’s important to choose an appropriate one. You’ll want to think long and hard about how you will make a punishment a learning experience for your teen. Here is a creative and impactful list of punishments for teenagers. Creative and meaningful punishments for teens can make all the difference in the world.

teenager rolling eyes at parents

Good punishments for teens

Once your child reaches a certain age, some punishments no longer feel practical. Time-outs and dessert deprivation just don’t cut it with a teenager and neither does grounding for every offense. Looking for a list of punishments for teenagers? Here is how to discipline a teenager with some more effective and age-appropriate strategies. Creative punishments for teenagers can ensure that certain behaviors don’t repeat themselves.

  • Take away screens: Want to get your teenager’s attention? Take away their cell phone, laptop, and tablet along with their access to video games. Nothing spells business like the removal of all forms of electronics. Of course, while this punishment doesn’t get to the root of the issue, it does serve as a reminder to think twice about their behavior and actions. You can take away screen privileges for a day or two, but be sure to set the time frame in advance. Teens will have to find other ways to keep themselves entertained during this time, and you’ll simultaneously want to see an improvement in their attitude.
  • Remove social situations: If your child tends to get in trouble when they spend time with a certain friend or a group of acquaintances, you will want to keep stronger tabs on who they’re hanging out with and what they are doing together. Moreover, if your child is punished, you can restrict their ability to see friends for a certain period of time.
  • Face the music: Sometimes, the best course of action to not to take a specific punishment at all. That is not to say you are letting your teenager off the hook. Rather, in this instance, you are taking a step back and allowing the natural consequences of their actions to unfold. If you are the parent who typically saves the day when your child is in a lurch, this is a way to teach them to take ownership of their lives and accept the consequences of their actions.
  • Bulk up the chores: If your child tends to get into trouble because they are bored, you might consider adding more household chores and responsibilities to their daily and weekly to-do lists. This serves two purposes: It keeps them busy so they can’t stir up mischief and reminds them that they may want to do better next time.
teenage daughter being punished
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Ways to help teens make better choices

Meaningful punishments for teens are important, but it is also critical to think more long-term and hopefully help set your teen on a better path. You want your teen to learn from his or her mistakes and not make it a pattern. Here are some ways to help your teen successfully navigate the muddy waters on the way to adulthood.

  • Lead by example: Your teenager might not want to admit it, but they look to you for guidance and see you as an example and a role model. So, practice what you preach. No, you don’t have to have a curfew or adopt a set bedtime. This is one of the perks of adulthood. Instead, you can and should show kindness and respect to others. Stay true to the commitments you make to your family.
  • Be clear about the rules: Set specific rules for your teenager so that they have clear guidelines to follow. The lines can become gray if there is room for interpretation. Don’t make the rules vague because teens will find a loophole.
  • Keep communicating: There may be a reason your teenager is acting out or behaving badly. If punishment is becoming the norm in your home, it is probably time to sit down and have a conversation with your child. Better yet, do not wait until issues arise. Keep the lines of communication open at all times. You want your teenager to come to you with problems before they manifest as behavioral faults. Teens need parents more than ever during adolescence.
  • Earn privileges: If you want to encourage good behavior, listening, and positive actions, consider a privilege system where your teen can gain more screen time, an extra half an hour on their curfew, or download a new video game if they continue to show positive changes. It’s basically a more mature version of a young kid’s behavior chart — but it can work!
  • Make sure the punishment fits the crime: It is also important to make sure your punishment is appropriate. There are big offenses and small ones. Teenagers are still kids and they will make mistakes. Remember adults make mistakes too.
  • Seek professional help: If behavioral issues or punishable offenses are severe enough to warrant major concern, talk to a professional and seek help or therapy. Your child’s school may have resources to help. Professional help is available in-person or online.

Teenagers are learning the ropes and figuring out what they can and can’t do. Of course, teens will try and see what they can and can’t get away with. Behavioral issues are par for the parenting course, especially as your child begins to approach young adulthood. Hang in there, and show some empathy, support, love, and, yes, sternness — as necessary. It takes creativity and patience to parent a teenager. Life doesn’t always hand you a list of punishments for teenagers. Disciplining your teenager isn’t the most pleasant part of being a parent. With older children come bigger problems. Setting boundaries and a clear set of rules goes a long way in providing teens a support system at home. When teens to trip up, make sure the punishment is appropriate and packs a lesson.

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