The most notorious stage after toddlerhood must be the teenager stage. Teenagers, like toddlers, are seeking independence and are working on developing the skills to handle that independence. Once again, some of the advice for earlier stages applies as well to teenagers, such as staying calm. But teenagers, as they will be happy to tell you, are also their own people. There are a few ways in which disciplining teenagers looks different.
- Stay calm. Don’t take their attacks personally. They have so much going on in their bodies and their minds, when they lose their temper, they cannot be held responsible for any of the mean things they say.
- Keep appropriate limits. Work with them to create the rules. For example, every August, sit down together and hash out the rules for the coming school year, such as curfew and homework expectations.
- Don’t abandon the timeouts. Timeouts can be useful in helping you and your child calm down before discussing punishments. You never grow out of timeouts.
- Pick your battles, and be flexible. They need to know that there are certain rules that they need to follow, but they also need room to grow and make mistakes.
Teenagers need help toward becoming adults. Discipline is part of that, and your discipline ultimately needs to translate into self-discipline. The teenage stage of parenting can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding for you and your child.
By Bethanie Ryan