Consequences vs. Rewards: Can You Punish Teens? [Teen Article]

Maria Elena is a 16-year-old from Wilmington, DE. She enjoys dancing and cooking and her favorite subject is Math.

Tips For Parents For Effective Discipline For Teens

Consequences vs Rewards
Can you really punish teens?  Is there a right way or a wrong way to punish teens? Before you answer either question, consider how your parents punished you when you were a teenager. Punishing teens is a tricky topic because one method doesn’t work for every teen, and punishing is different than disciplining. If “punishing teens” is put into any search engine, it comes up with a few results that all offer the same advice, “let teen know the consequences, be realistic and effective, and follow through.” But will that apply to everyone?
In my opinion, it won’t. Teens have many mental stressors such as homework, grades, sports, parents– the list is unending. To let you in on a secret, teens don’t like showing that they’re weak or can’t handle the work. They put on the mask of being calm and composed, when in reality they’re so bogged down with work and chores that they don’t know where to start and often just give up or lose motivation. Teens would rather hear positive reinforcement from parents because they want to make their parents proud. If all they hear is nagging and negative words, they figure, “Why should I try to do better when my best obviously isn’t good enough?”
I was talking to my best friend’s mom and she gave the comparison between a teen and the work force. Parents think that an effective way of punishing teens is taking away things that they cherish. Think about having a job in the work force where you have the stressors of your personal life and the stressors of your job, but your boss only sees what you have to do at work. You just barely make all of the deadlines for the exception of some minor tasks, it’s a giant relief and you’re in the clear, until your boss finds out.
Would you want to be punished for having a few minor things incomplete by having your morning breaks and sick days taken away? Where’s the motivation to do better? Teens have the same mentality. They don’t want to be punished for a couple minor things they didn’t complete. They want to be recognized and rewarded for all of the major things they did complete. Teens don’t want to be treated like little kids and have their toys, i.e. cell phone, the internet, television, taken away.
Some parents my argue, “Why should I reward my teen for not getting everything done?” You aren’t rewarding them for the incomplete tasks, but you can’t disregard their success. Offer them help or support to finish what they need to complete the tasks and encouragement to strive to finish them the next time. Don’t bribe your teen, but clearly state the benefits that come with success and use that for motivation.
When I was younger, and even now, if I get a good grade on a hard test or if I get a good report card, my mom surprises me and takes me to get a milkshake after school and it shows me that she’s proud of me and that I did a good job. Who would want to pass up an opportunity for a free milkshake once in awhile? Certainly not me.

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