Remember to reward your teen for a job well done.

How to Discipline Your Teenager Without Hurting Them

by Debra Pachucki

All teens need guidance, boundaries and consequences for their well-being and behavior. Discipline does more harm than good, however, when punishments are too harsh, overdone or involve hitting and yelling. The purpose of discipline is not to punish teens, but rather to provide them with learning lessons and opportunities to resolve problems. Learn effective discipline techniques that communicate the right messages to your teen in healthy, positive and constructive ways.


Clear communication is pivotal to establishing rules and setting limits for your teen to abide by. Dr. Robert MacKenzie advises that parents use firm, specific and direct language when setting rules, limits and expectations and talk about them with teens so that there are no misunderstandings. Allow your teen to express her opinions about your rules -- it doesn’t mean you have to give in, but it does show her that you respect what she has to say. When rules are broken, avoid punishing your teen while you’re angry or frustrated, so that you aren’t inadvertently too harsh or hurtful. Give your teen the opportunity to talk with you about things that might be influencing her behavior. It is also important to enforce rules and limits consistently -- punishing a teen one day for not starting his homework right after school but letting it slide a week later, for example, will only send mixed messages about what’s acceptable and what isn’t.

Loss of Privilege

When punishment becomes necessary, revoking a teen’s privileges is an effective way for a parent to teach her child about acceptable behavior through consequences. When revoking privileges, it’s important to keep the consequence relevant to the offense. If your teen is found texting during school, for example, punishing her with additional chores won’t help her to respect phone rules in any substantial way. Instead, take the cellphone away for the remainder of the week to send the message that the phone is an earned privilege, not an entitlement, and must be used in accordance with your rules.


Grounding is another common discipline approach that helps teens directly correlate misbehavior with consequence. The type of grounding should be relevant and appropriate to the misbehavior in order to be fair and constructive for teens. If your teen stayed out past curfew, for example, don’t forbid him to attend any event or function, but rather, ground him to a much earlier curfew for the remainder of the week.


Restitution is a form of discipline that helps teenagers to rectify a situation or correct their wrongdoing. This disciplinary method encourages teens to take responsibility for their misbehavior and work toward a resolution. If your teen damaged someone else’s property, for example, he might need to save up enough money to replace the item or have the money docked from his weekly allowance. Consider restitution for other misbehavior, such as hurting a sibling’s feelings or talking back to Mom and Dad.

About the Author

Debra Pachucki has been writing in the journalistic, scholastic and educational sectors since 2003. Pachucki holds a Bachelor's degree in education and currently teaches in New Jersey. She has worked professionally with children of all ages and is pursuing a second Masters degree in education from Monmouth University.

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