5 Reasons Consequences & Consistency are Key When Parenting Teens - Premier Counseling
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5 Reasons Consequences & Consistency are Key When Parenting Teens

By Todd McGuire, LPC

Parenting is hard. First, you’re up all night with them as babies. Then, you spend years chasing them from room to room, trying to keep them safe. Just when they’re starting to become self-reliant and you think you can take a breath; you realize you have a teenager on your hands. At Central Arkansas Counseling Group, we work with teens and their parents on a daily basis to thrive as a family and as individuals through family therapy. One of the many tips we give struggling parents and teens is that actions need to have consequences, and those consequences should matter and be consistently enforced. Keep reading to learn a little more about the value of consequences when parenting teens. Need some help developing your parenting skills? Join our parenting group to get the skills, support, and encouragement you need.

1 – Provide Structure & Stability

Alright, we all know the stereotype of the moody teenager. During adolescence, the brain and body are rapidly growing and changing, and this can leave your teen feeling (and acting) out of control. By establishing consequences for actions and providing consistent parenting, you can help your teen feel more in control and experience a life with greater stability.

2 – Help Parents Choose their Battles & Focus on Long-Term Goals

When you set boundaries with specific consequences, you can deliver consistent parenting and stability in everyday life. So, what happens when kids cross these lines? Hopefully, you maintain your consequences consistently, but what about those grey areas? Consistent parenting also gives you the flexibility to look at the big picture and choose your battles. Your child has stayed out one minute past curfew, but they called you on the way home to say they had to stop for gas. Maybe, let this slide, but reiterate you set a curfew to ensure their safety. If the child is two minutes late the next night, you have to enforce your consequences. Consistent parenting doesn’t mean that your child’s every slip needs to be punished to the same extent.

3 – Make it Easier to Co-Parent & Work with Other Caregivers

Today, many parents are not necessarily living and parenting under one roof. Even if kids have both parents at home, their family may still be relying on nannies, other family members, or friends to help care for their children. When you set consequences and enforce them consistently, it’s easier to share the responsibility of child rearing with all of your co-parents.

4 – Create Consequences that Fit the “Crime”

Many parents struggle with getting their teens to make positive behavioral changes, even if they set consequences and maintain consistent punishment. In many cases, the issue isn’t about consistency. The problem is the punishment itself. Instead of just enforcing punishments like grounding for a set period of time, make the consequences contingent upon seeing positive behavioral changes. If your teen curses and this has caused problems at school or in other settings, grounding them may not be enough to encourage behavioral change. To help your teen make a real change, you need to connect the consequences to the “crime.” In our original example, your child’s inappropriate langue has caused issues. In this situation, you could ground your teen until they have gone one week without being reprimanded for their foul language rather than just assigning an arbitrary length of time to their punishment. This ensures your teen will make the appropriate connection between behavior and consequences.

5 – Avoid Unnecessary Conflict Through Consistency

When you’re dealing with a rebellious, emotional, and challenging teen, conflict is par for the course. When you establish consequences and maintain them consistently, you can use this stability to avoid any unnecessary bickering. Shut down your teen’s rants by reminding them that they knew the consequences and made a choice. Don’t argue. Don’t bargain. Keep it simple and clear.

How Working with Central Arkansas Group Counseling Helps

Parenting is not easy. No matter how old your child is, there will be challenges to overcome and conflicts to resolve. If you don’t want to overcome these obstacles alone, the Central Arkansas Group Counseling team can help. Contact us at one of our locations in Benton and North Little Rock. We can help you and every member of your family lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash