Removing phone privileges may work for preteens who are social butterflies.

Proper Punishments for Preteens

by Candice Coleman

As your child prepares for the teenage years, power struggles may become a bigger problem at home. Though it may be difficult navigating this "tween" period, parents can do plenty to ensure that children follow the rules. Consistency in discipline can yield positive effects for parents trying different forms of punishment.

Taking Away Privileges

Children in this age group may rely on their computers and cell phones to keep in touch with their social network. Removing these privileges for a short period of time can send a powerful message when rules are broken, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. You may want to focus on privileges that are related to the rule broken. For example, if a child stays up late talking on the phone, not letting her use it for a day may make sense to both of you. If you remove privileges, the punishment may be most effective if it lasts a day or less.

Natural Consequences

Your daughter insists on going to the movies with friends and putting aside her homework until later. She may even ask that you excuse her absence at school the following day so she can have an additional day to work on her assignment. Refusing to help out by making an excuse for her is an example of natural consequences. Letting your daughter feel the brunt of her choices can help her make better ones in the future, suggests the NYU Langone Medical Center's Child Study Center.

Logical Consequences

In addition to natural consequences, logical consequences also teach preteens by letting them feel the impact of their choices. Parents often take a more active role in logical consequences. If your son refuses to eat dinner or attempts to hide it and convince you that he ate it, refusing to give him dessert afterward can remind him of the behavior you expect in order for him to get what he wants.

Additional Help

Focusing on your child's positive behavior can also encourage better behavior in the future. Offering rewards or giving a compliment for something specific that your preteen did can be a good starting point for parents. Making sure that your preteen is clear about the rules ahead of time -- and the punishments for breaking them -- may also reduce misbehavior. Negotiating the rules and punishments with your preteen can have a positive effect. If disciplinary problems continue, or you are struggling to find an effective method of punishment for your child, talking to your pediatrician may help.

About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.

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