Top ten discipline tips for parents of teenagers

by Dr. Tan Flippin

Discipline isn't a pleasant experience, especially for teens who feel grown up, independent, and exempt from correction. However, when your children hit the teen years, discipline is more important than ever. With that in mind, here are our top 10 discipline tips:

1. Communicate rules and expectations beforehand.

If your teens know what's expected of them up front, many problems can be avoided.

2. Remember that discipline should be redemptive.

Punishment isn't for the purpose of hurting your teens because they hurt you or broke the rules. Its purpose is to help them grow to become godly adults. Don't forget that fact.

3. Present a united front.

Disagreements between parents about rules and discipline issues communicates weakness. Teamwork that leads to a consensus between spouses is always the ideal.

4. Never discipline for mistakes; only punish for willful disobedience.

This is hard to do when you're frustrated with a teenager for making a mistake, but hold yourself to the high standard of only punishing disobedience. Give counsel following mistakes, but save the discipline for the big stuff.

5. Be consistent with your discipline.

If your teenager disobeys and gets off without any consequences, but you nail him the next time for the same thing, it will create confusion.

Also make sure the punishment fits the crime. More serious offenses should incur a more severe punishment than lesser ones. Be judicious and creative when choosing a discipline.

6. Communicate with your teens after discipline.

Talking or hugging afterward communicates to your teens that you love them. It also helps them realize that, ultimately, you're both on the same team with shared goals for well-being and personal growth.

7. Communicate to your teens the expectation that with God's guidance, they should eventually learn to discipline themselves.

The teen years are a handing-over period. As teens learn to discipline themselves in different areas, there will be less need for your intervention.

8. Don't feel guilty about disciplining your teens.

Teens will often try to make you feel guilty for standing your ground. However, if you've clearly communicated the rules, you're doing teens a favor by disciplining them when they disobey.

9. Use the Bible to teach lifestyle principles and applications to situations and behaviors.

It's the best parenting book available.

10. Pray with your teen, with your spouse, and by yourself.

Soak your teens' lives in prayer. Pray for discernment and wisdom for yourself, your spouse, and your teenagers.

Parenting isn't an easy task. The times when you must discipline your teenagers make it an even tougher job. Seek God's direction as you live out the wisdom of Proverbs 22:6, "Teach a youth about the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

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