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Learning How to Discipline Your Teen: Balancing Freedom and Structure

Learning How to Discipline Your Teen: Balancing Freedom and Structure

Learning How to Discipline Your Teen: Balancing Freedom and Structure 2560 1707 se_admin

When our children are young, discipline is easy. A time out when they make a poor choice or a sticker chart when they show positive behaviors you want to reinforce. As children get older the risk from those poor choices increases, but those methods of discipline start to become less effective.

Why Do Teens Need Boundaries?

Boundaries define what you will and won’t accept, and should come from what you believe is right for your teen at this stage in his life and for your family. It can seem like your teen is constantly fighting any boundary you set, but the reality is that teens benefit from boundaries. Boundaries can keep teens safe both physically and emotionally, and that is why it is important to hold them, even when your teen is rebelling. When boundaries are not held, teens learn that they can get what they want if they just yell or slam enough doors. 

Boundaries are important. But teens are still prone to test them in every possible way. So, as you develop and enforce healthy boundaries, it is important to spend time with your teen on a regularly scheduled basis to discuss them. This makes it clear to them that no matter what decisions they make, your relationship will not be affected.

Effectively Disciplining Your Teen

The ultimate goal of discipline is to help adolescents develop sufficient self-discipline so that they can learn to manage themselves and their lives independently and well. The first step in discipline is empathy. When your teen’s emotions are running high and you come in with a reaction to match, no one is going to win. Rather, when your teen is expressing their anger, taking a moment to express empathy can help to diffuse the situation. Saying to your teen, “I hear you, that must be really frustrating” doesn’t give their anger the fuel that an argument does.

Next, it is important to understand your teen’s motivations. If your teen is staying up too late and is exhausted and in a bad mood, talk to them about how that is negatively affecting them the next day. Maybe they noticed that they can’t focus during class and their grades slip when they’re tired. Or maybe they’re more sports-oriented, and you can talk to them about how they feel at practice after a night of little sleep. Helping them to see how their behavior has a negative effect on the things they care about has a greater impact than parents just telling them to go to bed earlier. 

Once you have helped your teen understand the positive and negative consequences of their behavior, involve them in creating the house rules. While there will be some rules that are non-negotiable, such as curfew is at 9 pm, provide opportunities where they have a say in the rules. If curfew is at 9 pm, maybe they can have access to their cell phone until 10 pm so they can still chat with their friends. Having input in creating their boundaries gives them a sense of responsibility and ownership. 

Solstice East Can Help

The Solstice mission is to support adolescents, and their families, in developing excellence in relationships, influence, character, and health throughout their life journeys. Through relationship-based programming, we help students restore and rebuild healthy, trusting relationships with their families, peers, teachers, and staff. 

We firmly believe in the immense importance that strong family relationships can provide. The core of our programming is based on healing damaged relationships so that we can help restore healthy connections within the family system. In addition to weekly family group therapy sessions by phone, we also invite families to visit the campus and participate in face-to-face family group therapy sessions. Weekend visits with their daughters are highly encouraged. For more information please call (855) 672-7058.