Being a teenager is a tough business. We know this. We remember it clearly, and yet when you think about the one thing that’s harder than being a teen—it’s being the parent of a teen. There’s an awesome expression out there (source unknown) that really brings it home: Raising a teenager is like nailing Jell-o to a tree. Yup. It’s hard to know how to discipline a teenager. We’re usually torn between wanting to be “cool” in order to get closer to our teens and letting them make their own decisions (read: mistakes) or being strict in order to protect them and setting healthy boundaries for them to live and learn by.
It’s completely common for teens to rebel and test said boundaries no matter how strict or lenient, but what’s important to remember is that teens need that structure, support and supervision that only you can provide. We all know teenagers like to test limits but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to have and enforce them. Teens actually need you to be a disciplinarian in order to feel most safe and secure. In case you’re still iffy on taking a more strict role as a parent, here are 12 reasons teen discipline is key and why your teenager secretly wants it from you.
There is a lot of peer pressure that your teen is confronted with daily—from friends, school, puberty and even the media. Knowing you are a stable, consistent person who wants what’s best for him or her will allow your child to trust you enough to let you help.
Teens just want your love. Love is often shown with a firm hand and a slightly nosey side. It’s called tough love. Ask about what’s going on their lives and don’t be afraid to lay down some rules and opinions to help keep them on track.
Teens want their parents to be proud of them. You remember this, don’t you? All kids, regardless of age, are desperate for their parents’ approval. Lay the groundwork for this so that they know exactly what will make you proud of them.
Teens get bullied and want a safe place to talk about it without clichéd suggestions. It’s on you to empower them with a sense of strength and identity so that they have what it takes to stick up for themselves when push comes to shove.
Being a teenager is a strange and scary time of change and they need true guidance and understanding. If your teen sees you as an apathetic parent who’s just as messed up as his friends, you will not hear the important questions and concerns he has about life, love and learning to become an adult.
Teens take risks by nature. They need to be given the opportunity to fail while knowing that you will be there to pick them up, brush them off and help them start all over again.
8. Decision Making
Though they say they can, they truly should not be making all the decisions by themselves. Let them know this and firmly insist they take your opinion into consideration for big decisions like buying a car, deciding on a college and staying out crazy late on school nights.
9. Unwavering Voice of Experience
This is teen discipline 101. Teens want to feel like they are making the important decisions for the rest of their lives but they really do need true guidance. So, if they’re not listening to your opinion, and it’s something that’s truly critical for their future, you get the final say. They’ll thank you someday.
Your teen wants to be a responsible adult. At least she wants to be seen as one. With that in mind, give her those tools by modeling that behavior yourself. You’re not laying the foundation for her awesome adulthood if you’re acting like one of her friends all the time.
11. The YOU Factor
There’s no magic formula for how to discipline a teenager. Bottom line: your teen wants to be guided, and not just by anyone, but by you!