Speak to your teen and express you're upset to modify her behavior.

Forms of Punishment for Teens

by Erin Schreiner

During their teen years, adolescents test the waters, engaging in inappropriate behaviors the likes of which they previously never exhibited. As a parent, you can provide your teen an incentive to behave properly by dispensing punishments when she misbehaves. Though punishing your rule-breaking teen is more difficult than it was when she was a toddler and you could just set her in a corner for a short time-out, if you pick the right punishment, you can potentially modify your teen's behavior -- and help yourself survive these tumultuous teen years.


Grounding has been a popular form of teen punishment since teens had rooms to which they could be sent. When you ground a teen, you take away some of the freedom she normally enjoys and cut off some of her social contacts. While grounding can be effective, the key is to keep it short, states “Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence,” author, Carl Pickhardt, in an article for Psychology Today. With a short-term grounding, you can ensure that your teen feels the pinch of being cut off from peers without putting her in a position where she can’t see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.


Though the term deprivation sounds more like an illegal punishment dispensed to prisoners of war than something you want to use with your teenager, all this really means is taking away something for a period of time that you teen values. This form of punishment can be highly effective if you do it right, states Pickhardt. To make your deprivation penalty effective, take away something your teen values. If you take something she doesn't care about, she won't care if she ever gets it back, warns Parenting.org, a parenting information database sponsored by Boys Town. Ideally, you should also take away something that relates to the misbehavior. For example, if you catch your teen cyberbullying, take away her laptop as this item directly relates to the misbehavior. As with grounding, avoid depriving your teen of the item she loves for an overly long period of time, as setting too long a time frame makes the punishment harder to enforce.


Just like your newborn who cries when he wants your attention, your teen may act out in an attempt to get you to notice him. While you certainly don’t want to ignore every behavior in which your teen engages, if your teen is doing something that is specifically designed to annoy you -- such hitting a couch pillow even though you have told him repeatedly not to -- telling him that you won’t acknowledge him until he stops is a wise choice, suggests the American Academy of Pediatrics website, HealthyChildren.org.


Many parents scold teens before handing out another punishment, but it is important to remember that the scolding itself, if administered properly, can be a punishment. When you scold your teen, express your disapproval clearly and concisely, explaining what you are upset about and why you are upset, suggests HealthyChildren.org. Though your teen may pretend she doesn’t, she wants your approval, so scolding can make a difference and potentially modify her behavior.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images