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Tween Discipline Issue1234

Dealing with Defiance

When children start to turn the corner from the preteen years to adolescence, they seem to​ transform from small, adult company into larger, strange, moody beings who look at life more darkly and despise adults.

There are several reasons for this. Primarily, because of the way their brains are wired, tweens are typically bored by the things adults want them to do. They’re also beginning to see their parents in a different light. In a tween’s eyes, parents are no longer heroes who can do no wrong but are suddenly fallible and human, which means their authority can be questioned. Finally, tweens start to experience an intense desire for independence, even though they know they’re still dependent on their parents for things like money and transportation. This can lead to resentment and defiance.

When defiance happens — and it will — it’s important to meet it with teaching and effective negative consequences. Here are some tips:

  1. Don’t just correct the behavior; teach your tweens what they should do instead.
  2. Deliver consequences dispassionately, like a police officer issuing a traffic ticket.
  3. Choose consequences that are appropriate for the “size” of the negative behavior (e.g., don't ground your tween for a month for not taking out the garbage).
  4. Use consequences that will have a meaningful effect (e.g., taking away video game privileges might be much more effective than banishing tweens to their rooms, which is where they might want to be anyway).

In this age of smartphones and computers, one of the most effective negative consequences is restricting your child's access to technology. Tweens consider their communication devices to be as important as food or oxygen and will quickly toe the line if they’re separated from them.

In addition to issuing effective negative consequences, it is important to try your best to maintain a positive and open relationship with your tween. If they know they can trust and count on you, they’ll be much less likely to become defiant in the first place. A positive relationship also helps when giving out a negative consequence because your tween will understand they are receiving it for a specific infraction, not because you don’t like them.

Teaching Activity

Strengths and Qualities Worksheet

When children reach preadolescence, they can have a difficult time seeing their positive qualities. Having them fill out a Strengths and ​Qualities Worksheet can prompt them to think about and list the good traits they possess.

Social Skill

Showing Respect

This skill will come in handy throughout your child’s life, so it’s good to teach it early. Children will find, too, that they’re more likely to get what they want if they begin by showing respect to others. Here are the steps to teach your tween:

  1. Obey a request to stop a negative behavior. When you obey a request to stop a negative behavior, you show that you can follow instructions, which is one form of showing respect.
  2. Refrain from teasing, threatening or making fun of others. By choosing not to participate in these behaviors, you demonstrate that you understand they can be hurtful to others.
  3. Allow others to have their privacy. Sometimes people need or want to be alone. You can show respect by following their wishes.

Coming up in Issue 2

Peer Pressure


Role-Play Resisting Negative Peer Pressure


Choosing Appropriate Friends

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