Parenting a Teenager - Stop Doing This Number 2

empowering your teenager Mar 26, 2023

 Today I am going to share the number 2  items on our  list of the  top 10 things you need to stop  doing as the parent of a teenager.


Number 2 on our list is to stop punishing your teenager. 


Now before you discount this idea, please hear me out.  


You may be thinking that if your teen does something wrong or breaks a rule there needs to be a consequence… right  This I agree  with.  The distinction I  am offering is between punishment as a consequence and taking responsibility for natural consequences.  


Let's take a look at an example


Your 14 years old daughter went to a friend's birthday party last night. This was a big  deal  because  a  boy that  she likes was going to be  there  as well.  She wanted  to look  her best so she snuck into her older sister’s closet and took a sweater without asking.  Unfortunately, during the party someone bumped into her and she spilled her drink all over the front of the sweater.  You have just been alerted to the situation by a very upset older sister. 


You can picture this situation…  can’t you?


Clearly the younger sister has acted inappropriately  so let's take a look at the difference between using a punishment as a consequence and natural consequences.   

An example of punishment as a consequence would be to take away the younger sister’s phone for a week or to ground her  for a month.  Your role as the parent in this case is to be the judge,  jury  and  enforcement officer.  The underlying mindset is to control your child’s future behavior via the threat of a future punishment.  This  is the approach I am suggesting that you give up. It damages the parent child relationship and doesn’t move your child along their journey of personal development.


Here  is what I recommend that you do instead.  Start by teaching your child that their actions have consequences  both good  and bad. Share with them that they will be able to enjoy the benefits of their good choices but they are also responsible for making amends for any damage caused by their poor choices.  The responsibility for making amends or repairing any damage caused by their choice is the natural consequence.     


Now when a situation like this example happens, you become the coach…the mentor.  You point out the damage caused, reinforce the idea that it is their responsibility to fix the damaged cause and then to support them as they do it. 


Here is what that might sound like:


Taking your sister’s sweater without asking was an inconsiderate choice… wouldn’t you agree.  Your actions have created a few issues that you need to resolve.  


What is your plan for cleaning or replacing the sweater?  This is where you use your empowerment coaching skills to help her develop a plan.


Okay.  Now more importantly, your actions have damaged your relationship with your sister and with me as well. 


How can you rebuild trust with us?  Again use your empowerment coaching skills to help her workout what she is going to do.


The last part of your role with this approach is to hold them accountable to do what they said they were going to do. 


Can you see how holding them accountable has a completely different dynamic than enforcing an arbitrary consequence?


I like to say that a change in perspective changes everything.   Here is a perspective shift to consider.


When your teenager makes a poor choice rather than seeing it as something you have to deal with… see it as a gift.  It is an opportunity to serve your son or daughter as they move along their journey towards becoming an adult. 



So the number 2 item on our list of the top 10 things you need to stop doing as the parent of a teenager is to stop punishing them… and what I am recommending that you do instead.. Use the natural consequences as an opportunity for your teens personal growth. 


Your Family Enrichment Coach,


Jim White





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