Establishing rules within your household is an effective way to teach your teen boundaries, healthy decision making and respect. However, simply setting these rules is not enough: your teen needs to realize that there are consequences to breaking them. Here are some ways you can follow through with the consequences you establish.
Create Clear Expectations
You need to outline expectations and consequences for breaking rules very clearly. This way, your teen knows what will happen if they fail to heed your rules and they won’t be able to argue when you reinforce that consequence. To help your teen feel heard, consider including them in the discussion when deciding the rules and consequences. For example, a conversation might include you asking “if you break your curfew, what do you think an appropriate consequence would be?” This will teach your teen that their choices and actions have effects.
Communicate With Your Partner
If you’re raising your teen with a partner, it’s important to keep your partner involved in establishing rules and consequences. Otherwise, your teen will quickly figure out which one of you is more likely to be lenient in different situations. With both adults in agreement about discipline, your teen will see that poor behavior will be met with a firm response.
The “Punishment” Should Fit the “Crime”
Consequences that come way out of left field or are way too harsh or insignificant will be harder to enforce. For instance, if your teen forgot to take out the trash, grounding them for a month and taking away their cellphone permanently would be a severe response that has no connection to the action. In real life, actions have direct results, so the consequences you establish should be relevant. If one of your teen’s chores is washing the dishes and they failed to do it one night, perhaps they need to help cook dinner for the family instead.
Ultimately, most of these suggestions have one thing in common: the importance of consistency. Sticking to the rules, expectations and consequences you establish won’t just help you to reinforce them, but it will also teach your teen about responsibility and respect in a fair way. On the flip side, if you’re constantly changing your mind of what you expect your teen’s behavior to be, you’ll confuse and stress your teen, provoking them to act out as a result. Of course, as your teen grows and matures, you’ll need to adjust the rules and consequences accordingly. Be sure to continue to communicate these changes clearly to the whole family.
Feature Photo: John-Mark Kuznietsov