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A Reasonable Consequence for Teenagers

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

Your teen is too old for a time-out or a spanking. Logical and reasonable consequences make more sense and incorporate more effective discipline than punishing him. Allowing your teen to experience consequences of behavior helps him understand the real world, according to Foster Cline and Jim Fay, authors of “Parenting Teens With Love and Logic.” Consequences directly tied to behaviors are more effective, according to family therapist Roger Allen, author of “Common Sense Discipline; What to Say and Do When Children Misbehave.”

Positive Consequences

When you begin to use reasonable consequences for your teen, it should include positive consequences for behavior you want to encourage. For example, if your teen borrows the car and returns it clean and with a full tank of gasoline, allow the teen to continue to borrow the car when the need arises. Good grades, regular school attendance and appropriate conduct could get your teen additional cash for her needs or permission to attend a desired activity instead of having to stay home and study to retake a class.

Educational Consequences

If your teen is an athlete and receives poor grades, she might not be allowed to participate in her sport. This is a logical consequence of her behavior. If your teen skips school and gets caught, she should pay the fine and comply with any other negative consequences imposed by the court. Explain, “If you apply yourself to your studies, stay out of trouble and work with your teachers and classmates, you might earn a scholarship that will pay for your college. If you mess around and do poorly in school, you put that at risk.”

Relational Consequences

When your teen lies, steals or violates your trust in other ways, you will hesitate to trust your teen the next time he asks to use the car, have a night out or enjoy other activities that require your permission. Encourage your teen to see the consequences of his behavior that affect relationships with you and with others. Explain, “If you violate the trust of your friends or girlfriend, your friends or girlfriend might not want to be around you.” Stress what you want to see by saying, “If you want me to trust you enough to let you go with your friends or have your own computer access, show me you can keep your word, maintain your curfew and behave appropriately.

Employment Consequences

Your teen might see a job as a step toward independence. If she doesn’t consistently show up for work on time or complete her duties at work, she will not remain employed for long. Refuse to pay for her financial obligations if she loses her job. Repossess the car, or at least the car keys, if she can’t make the payments or can’t pay the insurance. Don't pay her an allowance if she doesn’t meet her responsibilities at home.


  • Parenting Teens with Love and Logic; Foster Cline and Jim Fay
  • Common Sense Discipline: What to Say and Do When Children Misbehave; Roger B. Allen, Ph.D

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.

Photo Credits

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