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Consequences for Teens

Boy laying on a bench, looking at a cell phone

​​​This information is included in our Guide to Parenting Teens. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

Many parents feel that it is impossible to use consequences with their teenagers. The problem typically lies in the understanding of consequences. What can be used as a consequence, and is it going to be effective?

Types of Consequences

Consequences teach teenagers to think and help them realize that their choices and behavior have negative and positive results.

Positive consequences are given after a particular behavior to increase the likelihood that the behavior will be repeated.

Negative consequences are given after a particular behavior to decrease the possibility of it happening again.

Effective Consequences

Positive or negative consequences given to your teen will only be effective if you follow some basic parenting guidance.

  • Consequences must be  important to your teen, or there will be little effect on behavior.
  • Consequences must be delivered  immediately to make a clear connection and understanding between the behavior and the consequence.
  • Consequences must be  appropriate and based on the behavior. Do not burden your teen with excessive negative consequences for the small stuff. Neither should you ignore or under-reward your child for making the best choices.
  • Consequences must be  consistent. Make sure your teen understands that "if you do this, then this happens." You and your spouse need to work together on this.
  • Consequences must  vary. Being consistent doesn't mean you're stuck with the same response every time.

Consequences must be  manageable. If they are too difficult or punishing on you, you may not follow through. At the same time, we all realize that parenting is sometimes tough, and being inconvenienced now rather than taking the easy way out will make your job much easier in the long run.