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How To Handle A Teen Who Lives Life Like There Are No Consequences

Teenagers often engage in power struggles with their parents. Teens don’t typically like being told what to do. They’re growing up and want more independence, and they don’t like being reminded that they’re not the ones in charge. So it’s no surprise when teens act headstrong and say that they don’t care about their punishments.

As parents, it’s important to know that this show of bravado is often just an act. If your kid knows that it upsets you when they act like they don’t care about the consequences, they will keep acting like they don’t care. It’s an easy way to regain a little control in the situation. They’re upset that you’ve given them consequences, and now they’ve been able to make you upset as well. It’s tit for tat.

Most teens do actually care about the consequences when the consequences are enforced well. However, some teens don’t care about consequences because they haven’t made the connection between choosing their actions and meeting their goals. If your teenager lives life like there are no consequences and doesn’t respond to your efforts, you may need outside help.

Residential treatment centers for teens are designed to help teenagers learn to identify their goals and choose actions that work toward their goals. The purpose of any consequence is for teens to change their behavior to something more positive. Therapists at residential treatment centers help their students learn to acknowledge consequences and choose behaviors that lead to positive outcomes.

Setting and implementing effective consequences

When you are setting and implementing consequences for your teen, there are several things to keep in mind.

Don’t power struggle

When you issue a consequence to your child and say that they don’t care, don’t react. They’re trying to get to you and annoy you by acting like they don’t care. Rather than react and double down on the consequences, just implement the consequence and walk away. Whether they care or not should have no impact on whether they receive the consequence or not.

Look for signs that the consequences are working

Teens like to put on a show acting like they don’t care about their consequences. If you just listen to what they say, you’ll be misled. Instead, look for signs that the consequences are working. Has their negative behavior changed as a result of the consequence? If so, then the consequence is working.

Make the consequences relatable

Rather than implementing an arbitrary consequence for the teen to follow, link the consequences directly to their behavior. Remember that the ultimate goal of the consequence should be to improve your teen’s behavior.

If you punish your teen by removing something they like, have them earn it back by displaying the appropriate behavior. Simply grounding them from something will only serve to make them unhappy during their punishment. Rather than just making them unhappy while they’re grounded, have them actually show the correct behavior to earn their privileges back.

For Example:

  1. Your teen has failed another test in school because they refused to do their homework.

  2. You take away their video games until they come home with a passing grade in that class.

  3. Once they bring home a passing grade in that class, they get their video games back.

Enforce the consequence

Once you establish consequences that relate to your teen’s behavior, you have to enforce them. If your teen knows that you won’t enforce anything, they won’t care about the consequences.

Give hope

If your teen is disrespectful when you give them consequences, you might be tempted to heap on even more consequences. However, this is rarely effective. If you make the consequences too harsh, you’re either going to back out of them, or your kid will give up hope. If they lose hope that they’ll ever be “out of trouble,” they might stop caring altogether. Your teen needs an attainable goal to work towards.

If your teenage son’s behavior is getting out of hand and he doesn’t respond to any consequences, he might benefit from attending a therapeutic boarding school. At Sundance Canyon Academy, our staff is trained to work with students in a variety of ways to help them care about their futures. As students work through individualized treatment plans, they learn to identify the consequences of their actions. Contact us today for more information about our school.

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