Disciplining Your Child - Part 3
Ages 9 to 12
Kids in this age group — just as with all ages — can be disciplined with natural consequences. As they mature and request more independence and responsibility, teaching them to deal with the consequences of their behavior is an effective and appropriate method of discipline.
For example, if your fifth grader's homework isn't done before bedtime, should you make him or her stays up to do it or even lend a hand yourself? Probably not — you'll miss an opportunity to teach a key life lesson. If homework is incomplete, your child will go to school the next day without it and suffer the resulting bad grade.
It's natural for parents to want to rescue kids from mistakes, but in the long run they do kids a favor by letting sometithem fail mes. Kids see what behaving improperly can mean and probably won't make those mistakes again. However, if your child does not seem to be learning from natural consequences, set up some of your own to help modify the behavior.
Ages 13 and Up
By now you've laid the groundwork. Your child knows what's expected and that you mean what you say about the penalties for bad behavior.
Don't let down your guard now — discipline is just as important for teens as it is for younger kids. Just as with the 4-year-old who needs you to set a bedtime and enforce it, your teen needs boundaries, too.
Set up rules regarding homework, visits by friends, curfews, and dating and discuss them beforehand with your teenager so there will be no misunderstandings. Your teen will probably complain from time to time, but also will realize that you're in control. Believe it or not, teens still want and need you to set limits and enforce order in their lives, even as you grant them greater freedom and responsibility.
When your teen does break a rule, taking away privileges may seem the best plan of action. While it's fine to take away the car for a week, for example, be sure to also discuss why coming home an hour past curfew is unacceptable and worrisome.
Remember to give a teenager some control over things. Not only will this limit the number of power struggles you have, it will help your teen respect the decisions that you do need to make.
You could allow a younger teen to make decisions concerning school clothes, hair styles, or even the condition of his or her room. As your teen gets older, that realm of control might be extended to include an occasional relaxed curfew.
It's also important to focus on the positives. For example, have your teen earn a later curfew by demonstrating positive behavior instead of setting an earlier curfew as punishment for irresponsible behavior.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Shroff Pendley, PhD
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