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Reasonable Consequences for Teens When They Are Not Responsible

by Chelsea Fitzgerald, studioD

It is vital that teenagers learn that being irresponsible has consequences. Once they graduate college and have full-time jobs, their bosses aren’t likely to accept excuses for their behavior. Repeated irresponsibility may result in disciplinary actions or losing their employment. Avoid buffering your child from consequences that may adversely affect his schoolwork, involvement in sports or his part-time job, as suggested by Dr. Kalman Heller, a licensed psychologist. It is better for him to learn life’s hard lessons now, rather than later on when consequences have much more impact.

Grounding the Teen

Grounding your teen from all social activities outside of the home is an effective consequence, according to Dr. Phil McGraw, mental health professional and television personality. A teenager generally places high value on socializing with his friends. If the grounding prevents him from attending football games, school or church parties or simply hanging out at a friend’s house for a weekend gathering, the consequence may jolt him into action the next time he is tempted to neglect his responsibilities.

Additional Duties

Your teen may dislike doing chores around the home because it takes him away from a beloved video game or simply lazing in his room. If it is his duty to unload the dishwasher every Tuesday and Thursday and he neglects to do so, assign him the chore again on Monday and Wednesday of the next week. He not only has to do his regular chores on these days, but he also has the additional chores. This type of consequence is particularly effective if he and his siblings alternate chores. He sees his sibling able to do what she wants while he slaves away doing her share as well.

Taking Away Privileges

Many teenagers feel that their cell phone and computer time is their right, instead of a privilege. It is a way for them to socialize with their friends and peers at all times. Physically taking away the cell phone, laptop or other communication device is quite effective in teaching them that irresponsibility often results in harsh punishments. Taking away video games or other electronics is another way to ensure the teen learns from his actions, particularly if he spends a lot of time entertaining himself with the gadget. Many teenagers have access to the family car or their own car. Taking away the keys is often a valid motivational tool to make them take their responsibilities more seriously. These tactics also help teens learn that privileges must be earned, advises Dr. McGraw.

Choosing Their Own Punishment

Older teens often look like adults and believe that they are capable of making all their own decisions. If this is the case with your teenager, try letting him choose the consequences for his irresponsibility. For instance, if he forgets to pick up an item necessary for dinner, he may choose to do the weekly grocery shopping for his parent. Of course, the consequence must be fitting to the crime, and you should have the final say in its appropriateness. Allowing your teen to choose a fair penalty often results in increased self-esteem and satisfies his need for increasing independence.

About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.

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