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Discipline Ideas for Christian Teens

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Some Christian discipline strategies that worked well when your teen was a toddler or preschooler may not produce the same results now that she’s older. As a parent, your strategies and ideas have to mature with your child, allowing for greater freedom and more choices so she is prepared to mature into a responsible adult. These years offer an opportunity for you to grow together and learn more about the amazing person that God has blessed you with.

Covenants

God established a covenant with His people that established the rules -- The Ten Commandments -- and Moses provided the consequences. Establish a behavior covenant with your teen, outlining the behavior you expect and the logical consequences of obeying and violating the rules. Covenant details could include, “To borrow the car, your grades have to stay above a C and you have to pay for your own car insurance and gasoline; If your grades drop, insurances lapses or you return the car with less gas, you can’t borrow the car for seven days and until your insurance is current.”

Partner Up

Allow your teen to be a partner in defining covenant details, suggests James Lehman, a behavioral therapist who has worked with troubled teens for more than 30 years. Your teen will see that you respect his maturity and want his input. If you disagree, talk it out and offer suggestions based on biblical wisdom. Outline what your teen can expect from you if he keeps the covenant. Once you have completed drafting the covenant, print two copies, review it together and sign it together. If your teen violates the covenant, review the specific item before consequences are imposed. Your teen will have a difficult time claiming you’re unfair if you have worked together to create the covenant.

Choices

Teens like to feel as if they have choices about what they do and how they do it, according to Joe White, author of “Sticking With Your Teen.” With this in mind, offer your teen choices whenever possible and respect her decisions. You could say, “I need your laundry put away before dinner. You can do it now or after your homework, but it must be completed before dinner," or "You have dishes tonight, according to the chore chart. You can do them before or after family Bible study."

Be Available

Being a parent means being available to your child, and that remains important during the teen years, according to White. Take time to listen to your teen and stay current on what is going on in his life. Take him out to lunch and let him choose the destination. You can take advantage of times when you are chauffeuring your teen to an event to communicate. Listen actively and ask questions requiring more than a nod or single-word response, such as, “How are things going in your chemistry class?” or “Is there something I can do to help you with your goal to buy a car?” Let your teen know by word and deed that you enjoy being his parent and you love him unconditionally.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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