top of page

Is My Teen Right? Was Taking The Car & Phone Away Too Much?

Discipling children is always going to be a hot-button topic. If a parent takes away their kid’s car keys or smartphones, there will be people who approve, others who say kids shouldn’t have those things in the first place, and another group will condemn the parent as an authoritarian. Unsurprisingly, many teenagers who have had their privileges taken away fall into the last group.

However, in some cases, these upset teenagers may be right. Teenagers who receive arbitrary discipline and see no way to regain their privileges can feel like they have nothing to lose and will engage in more troubling behavior. If you have been struggling with disciplining your teen and have seen their behavior begin to escalate, here are some insights that can help revamp your current methods to be more effective.

Teens Respond Best To Fair, Balanced Discipline

First, let’s look at why teens react so strongly to having their phone taken away. While parents can inherently understand the loss of freedom involved in taking away car keys can be to a teen, not all parents comprehend how profoundly connected their teenagers are to their smartphones.

For the majority of American teenagers, their phones are how they stay connected to their social groups, whether they live in urban, suburban, or rural areas. The ability to reach out and connect with friends and followers can be addictive, so to have their phones taken away can have a huge impact.

Now, that’s not to say parents shouldn’t ever take away their teenagers’ smartphones. If anything, having such a strong reaction makes it even more important that parents take a fair and balanced approach to taking away phones and other privileges.

Ways To Successfully Discipline Teenagers

While discipline can’t be one-size-fits-all, there is some basic groundwork you can layout to move toward more successful discipline.

Discuss Rules And Make Consequences Clear

It is best to have discussions on family rules and the consequences before a problem arises, but if that doesn’t happen, make time for the conversation before moving to discipline. With young children, parents often default to handing down discipline without discussion, but with teens, that same tactic doesn’t go over well.

Without a clear line of communication, teens can feel unheard and punished arbitrarily. That’s not to say that they can’t feel that way even if you do discuss the issue and consequences with them, but generally, teens respond better to being aware where the lines are that they shouldn’t cross.

Create A Path To Regain Privileges

When there is no clear way to regain their lost privileges, teens can escalate their poor behaviors because, in their minds, they have nothing else left to really lose. Rather than leaving your teen without hope of an end to their discipline, implement set end dates.

For example, say you have a rule about no smartphones out during dinner, and having a phone out results in loss of the device. An arbitrary rule would be if you held onto the phone indefinitely, or just took it away for dinner and gave it back. Both of these actions only communicate to your teen that they have no way to know what their real consequences are when breaking a rule.

Instead, have a set end date—phones out during dinner are taken away for the rest of the night. If there are repeat violations in a row, you may want to implement a day of no phone access. But whatever you do, give your teen a clear path to when they might regain their privileges.

Allow Teens To Make Reparations

Serious rule-breaking may require more than a few hours or a couple of days of discipline. In these cases, it can help to have ways to assist your teen in making reparations. Many teenagers may feel remorseful, but aside from saying sorry, aren’t sure how to make up for their poor behavior.

For instance, say your teen has been neglecting their math homework, and their grade has fallen to a D. Work with your teen—and their teacher—on correcting the problem, which usually involves doing all missing homework and extra credit assignments if available. Along with your teen doing make-up work, you can assign them extra chores as a form of reparations for breaking your trust.

Move On After Discipline Is Completed

Perhaps the most important aspect of discipline is to move on after the discipline is completed. Teens will quickly grow to resent reminders of their previous failings, especially if they have carried out their punishment and made reparations.

Continuing to harp on past failings or even joking about taking away their phone or car arbitrarily isn’t going to help your teen respond well to future discipline efforts. Your teen can feel like you have just been waiting to punish them again. So, it is best to move on once your teenager’s discipline is completed.

However, some teens need further intervention than what can be provided at home and with local resources. Before you decide that a military school or boot camp is the answer, you may want to consider a residential treatment center like Sundance Canyon Academy.

At our facility, attending teenage boys receive regular therapy, focused on helping students reach the root issues they are struggling with so that their personal development can proceed. There are also other facets to our program, from accredited schooling to an emphasis on service. To learn more about our program and to see if it is a good fit for your teen, please contact us.

10 views0 comments
bottom of page