Make tough love work
Tips for parents who want to take a firmer hand on disciplining teens.
Teenagers are naturally sensation-seeking and often risk takers. They like to experiment, push boundaries and oppose authority. This is the process of assertion and self-searching that is an important part of adolescence and the path towards maturity.

If a child has not been disciplined at prep school age than the teenager will battle to pull himself in, be considerate and think of consequences. A teen who is not disciplined can become disrespectful and destructive. The chances of an undisciplined teen listening to sense is rare.

Tough love in action

1. Do not be narrow-minded about discipline! It is not a punitive, harsh thing that requires corporal punishment.

2. Discipline lies at the root of the achievement of any goal in life.

3. A child first has to be guided from the outside in order to develop self discipline and self control. This means an adult must set limits, boundaries and continually remind a child to be considerate and responsible.

It is only from about 16 years old that a child will begin to really understand and internalise that they are responsible for their own self control IF they have been guided by adults. Internalisation of discipline takes time. Children begin to be self-controlled at different ages depending on their personalities and temperaments.

4. Help a child set goals for their work, their social life and their personal lives. help them work out the steps and stages they will have to go through to get there. remind them to focus on the tasks they have set themselves. Set the example.

5. Use the golden rule to guide them: do unto others what you would have them do unto you.

6. Limit playtime, limit TV and computer time. Set structures in place for all duties and chores that need to be done: ie: home chores, homework, eating, hygiene and sleep time.

7. Attempt to bring fun into chores or duties and be flexible with your structure on weekends and sometimes drop it altogether at times over holidays.

8. Write up your house rules and talk about the values or character traits the family believe in. Like honesty, forgiveness, family time, perseverance, kindness etc.

9. Come up with ideas together as to how to keep these things in place.

10. Discuss the consequences of a child not doing the things they are expected to do.

11. Always praise and recognise the child’s effort and the times he behave as required.

12. Bring the DO into the DON’T. Let a child know specifically what behaviour you would prefer to see instead of just saying NO all the time.

13. Start this whole process early. If you have not done this trying to set boundaries in the teen years will be impossible.

14. Setting guidelines and limits on a teen's behaviour is difficult. Do not aim to please or keep the teen happy all the time. Don’t worry if he does not like you for periods of time.

15. Have discussions about limits and let the teen have her say. Do not just give in because she is complaining and criticising you.

How do you set boundaries for teens?

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