The teen brain lives in the here and now, which could be why your teen son makes poor decisions with little foresight. Whether it's missing curfew, skipping class or misusing technology, your teen might not think about the consequences when he acts. It's your job to use discipline prudently and punish wisely, driving home the consequences so they make the biggest impact on his future actions and thought processes.
Insist that your teen take responsibility for his actions. It's easy for a teen to foist the blame on someone else -- a teacher, a peer and even you could get the blame for skipping school, staying out too late or missing out on chores, respectively. Ask that your teen use "I" statements to take responsibility for his part. If you punish without him seeing his folly, he'll likely brush the discipline off as you being a strict parent, rather than the consequences of his own action.
Ask your teen what he thinks his punishment should be. You can give him a few options or simply ask what he thinks would be appropriate. This allows your teen to think about his actions and choose a punishment that makes sense to him.
Set the punishment for a short, measurable amount of time, suggests HealthyChildren.org. While it might be tempting to take a "grounded for life" mentality, your teen can become numb to punishments that simply last too long -- if he's already grounded for a month, he might not think much of another couple of weeks tacked on. Instead, go for punishments that make a real, timely impact, like taking away his cellphone for three days or reducing his curfew for the weekend.
Use consistency when you're punishing your teen. If he abuses his car privileges and you let it slide -- just this once -- you open the door for future infractions and bending of your rules. Instead, keep your punishments consistent so your teen knows exactly what to expect when he breaks the rules.
Keep your judgement to yourself when punishing your teen, suggests therapist Carl Pickhardt in an article for "Psychology Today." While it's tempting to comment on what you think about his decisions, you could do more harm by insulting your teen. Instead of saying "That was a really dumb decision to make," try, "I don't agree with your behavior." This lets your teen know his behavior was unacceptable without doing damage to your relationship or his self-esteem.
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