Inside: This post is going to explore effective consequences for teenagers and how they can improve your relationship with them, while also preparing them for real life. This list of logical consequences for teenagers (even for disrespectful behavior) are the best to prepare them for real life, even when you’re at your wits end.
If you’re reading this post, I am guessing you’re a bit overwhelmed by your life and the people in your life right now. Am I right?
I know this feeling.
Before we get started, I recently did a podcast on negotiating with kids I think you’ll love:
I also have one that I did that talks about what to do when you’re just mad at your kids.
Hi, I’m Hilary — I’ve been a mom since 2000 and I am in the midst of parenting my last teen. I am here to testify that it is confusing, but one of the BEST things you can do is take some time to consider a consequence. No consequences needs to be handed out NOW.
Your first step in controlling some of the chaos is to get into a good routine at your house — Family Routines can easily help you get on the road to smoother days. Join for just a month to get the ball rolling!
Ok, let’s talk consequences!
Consequences for Teenagers
I loved the book Love and Logic. It is amazing for little kids. The idea that kids have to fix their own messes is HUGE for me. It changed the way I potty train, the way I dealt with poor behavior, and messes. It really made me think about the consequences. And me screaming at them was never a natural consequence — even if it comes naturally sometimes.
And I always find that consequences work better than discipline.
But now I have this gangly teenage boy. I have no idea what a natural consequence is for him blowing off his curfew? I just know I’m SO angry and I feel like I can’t change a SINGLE thing with him. Then, we just stare at each other in a control game. It’s awfully fun to have teens.
It’s awfully fun to have teens.
But then he’s also amazing. He’s smart and funny. He’s kind and genuine. He’s really thinking about the world around him and how he can make a difference. Such an exciting time.
It really is awfully fun to have teens.
Another thing that is good for me to remember is that it really is NORMAL to make some poor choices as a teenager. It’s a period of time of learning, so make sure you remember this is NORMAL (like a toddler wetting their pants during potty training). Remember it is normal for older children to have:
- Disrespectful responses
- Mood Swings
- Rude behavior
It is JUST as normal as your baby learning to crawl. It’s not about you.
But, back to the control game. We play it a lot. Me tightening down, him getting mad. It’s awesome. I really thought that returning to love and logic, with the logical consequences might really help me and my teen’s behavior.
Love & Logic for Teens
Keep in mind that a lot of times you’re feeling a VERY hot power struggle. Remember, they may just be doing the behaivor to get in that struggle with authority figures. In the heat of the moment, don’t let that take over. Take a deep breath, have a calm moment and do the right thing with a reasonable consequence. Natural consequences teach them — so hopefully you’re not always having a hard time.
Loss of an Item
Just like if my 4-year-old cut his hair with his scissors, I’d take them away. If he’s on his cell phone instead of doing homework or using it during dinner, it goes away. I have an electronics contract where the house rules are spelled out along with the consequences. It works pretty well. This is a constant fight though. I’d prefer to fight about something else these days. #commentandhelpme! Having really clear rules and consequences (written out even) has REALLY helped on this one). FYI, since cell phones are so much of an issue we also have a time limit set by The Circle. I can adjust that also as a consequence.
My service to him is not mandatory
If someone is consistently rude to me I don’t need to keep helping them, even if they are my child. If he’s regularly rude I pull back my support of him. He can take the city bus home.
I think a lot of the teen angst is the fact that they feel like they are 100% responsible for their own life. They have ZERO idea or choose to not notice that we’re behind them juggling balls to keep them afloat. Maybe stop that juggling for a bit to let them see what happens.
If he likes being in charge of himself, he can do it more frequently. When laundry was an issue, I stopped doing it. When lunches weren’t being made I just left him on his own. I needed to be more hands off. It’s a good consequence for him and me.
My job truly is to mother him out of needing me. That needs to start sooner rather than later.
Time for a Break
My teen takes a lot of walks/bike rides and skateboard rides. I bet his hormones are just racing around in that brain of his. He’s somewhat irrational as a 16-year-old boy. Frankly, I need a good cooling off too. Giving kids space is a natural consequence that works.
I DO think that the more natural and logical the consequence is, the more it mimics real life. Creative consequences can be great as well, but just make sure they address the natural consequence of their behavior.
Just like in potty training. Once my kids have proved that they are capable of using the potty and doing it on their own their natural consequence is cleaning up after themselves. That means cleaning up the spot, changing their clothes, and sometimes even helping with laundry. The reason I don’t wet my pants is that I don’t want to change my underwear and pants (or to avoid embarrassment, but somehow that doesn’t work on a 2-year-old).
SO, when my son wants money but is unwilling to do household chores or extra jobs. He doesn’t get to have money. That’s the natural consequence. I don’t go to work — I don’t have money, we get foreclosed, etc. Hence, I keep going to work. It’s a valuable lesson to learn in your teenage years.
List of Logical Consequences for Teens:
Here are a few effective ways to help shape their teenage brain:
- The consequence for a disrespectful teenager — He doesn’t respect me, I don’t respect him. I don’t need to pick him up or cook him meals (you can extend this as far as you want). Disrespectful behaviour is HARD, I feel you on this one!
- The consequence of lying — You can’t trust him. You can’t trust him to stay out with friends, use the car, be in his room alone, use his phone.
- The consequence of defiance — I would say it’s similar to respect. Although, check yourself on what he’s being defiant at — is that worth the fight?
- The consequence of drinking or drug abuse — again, I would say you can’t trust them. So, privileges that require trust would be eliminated.
How to punish a teenager who doesn’t care
The reality is that they DO care about something. The key is finding that thing. Be it his phone, video games, sports, etc. You have to be willing to be firm and make it logical. Those two are the key.
The key to consequences for teens:
The first step is often saying that you need a little time to figure out the consequence. Sometimes the actual natural consequence is hard to figure out in the spur of the moment. Also, they can ruminate on how they could change this next time. Not knowing if this is a life sentence or just a slap on the wrist for them — sometimes that’s the start of an awesome consequence (not a punishment).
Don’t feel like you need to decide the consequence right away — let them boil a bit inside. This alone can drive teen girls crazy in their own way.
Like most things practice makes perfect. The more you do it, it does start to come more naturally and will make them better adults in the long run. 🙂
OH, and don’t forget to give consequences for GOOD BEHAVIOR. Get great grades, have more time with the things they love. Consequences can certainly be given out in a positive way! This really helps parent-child relationships!
Fist bump to all the moms with teens. Good luck! I wish life was as easy as sleep training at this point. It’s a constant battle between loving the AMAZING human beings that they are becoming and wanting to pull your hair out wishing they were different (or questioning where you went wrong).
I was just reading through a few other articles out there, and I really liked this one. She had a really realistic view of parenting kids and sometimes it’s just nice to know I’m not alone. Remember the important thing is shaping humans into good people who can make the world a better place. Less so is the day to day stuff.
Ok, now that you’ve thought of some ways that you can make things more logical and effective, it’s time to lower your effort at home, so you can focus more on them and their needs. Come join me in Family Routines. I really think moms of teens only need a month, and then you can jump out and put it all to work (or buy for a year to have more time to work on it):
If you’re not quite ready for the full course, join me in Practical Parenting for FREE where I give my 5 best tips for using love and logic with teens (and frankly this is awesome at ANY time, getting good at it early on and through middle school will only give you a new skill you can use for good!).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on logical consequences for teenagers. We moms of teenagers need to help each other, so share your tips and thoughts in the comments.