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3 Best-Ever Discipline Tactics that Parents of Teenagers Need to Know

3 Best-Ever Discipline Tactics that Parents of Teenagers Need to Know (1)

If you're reading this, you're probably a parent who's looking for a little help figuring out how to effectively discipline your teenager.

Or you might be a parent who's dreading the teenage years, and trying to get a plan in place.

Or your kids might be all grown up, and you're STILL not sure what the best discipline for teenagers is. (Especially if they're still living in your basement.)

Or maybe I'm the only one who's been perplexed by trying to figure it out.

Because I've confiscated my teenagers' cell phones, iPads, car keys and video games more times than I can count.

And of course I've grounded them—limiting all social contact whatsoever and forcing my sulking offspring to play board games with their parents on many Saturday nights. (I secretly like these times, and I think they might, too. Even though they snarl a bit.)

But halfway through the teenage years as a mom of five, I realized something was missing in these strategies.

They simply weren't very effective. In fact, they were expected.

I needed to add some creativity into the mix.

I needed to get bold.

And my teenagers needed to be surprised.

So here’s some of my best-ever tried-and-true discipline tactics for tweens and teens that worked in our home. (I've tried some other creative efforts that flopped, but that's a post for another time.) Also check out our podcast on this topic.

I certainly haven't given up on grounding and loss of privileges, but these additional tactics serve as "in the moment" illustrations for unforgettable lessons.

And I'm doing less yelling and more laughing.

You’ll notice there’s a “fear” factor in all of these tactics, but keep in mind, these are absolutely not meant to be sadistic pranks to humiliate your teenagers—they’re meant to prove a point, deter future misbehavior, and create an opportunity for a meaningful conversation about the lesson learned.

And you’ll only have to do them once, I promise.

Related: Check out this author's new book, Release My Grip: Hope for a Parent's heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly 

Curfew Clown

Curfew Clown

Late? Meet Curfew Clown

Got a teenager who’s pushing the limits of obeying curfew? Bring on the Curfew Clown. Surprise them with a super-scary clown mask suspended or propped somewhere in the dark shadows of the stairs, or in their room. Not only will you HEAR them come home (this foils kids who try to sneak in)—they’ll be briefly traumatized and get a taste of the fear we parents experience when they're late. Explain the reason for curfews is because we love them and want to make sure they're home safe and not chained up in someone's basement. Which is much scarier than Curfew Clown. Who, by the way, will show up somewhere new if they're late again.

The Uncool T-shirt

Uncool T-shirt

You Go Girl! Wearin' that on my sleeve!

Tired of disrespectful eye-rolls and snide comments from your socially aware adolescent who critiques your clothes, hair, and everything else? Be bold about your uncool-ness! Just head to the craft store and buy a plain T-shirt, fabric markers, sequins and any other obnoxious adornment, and write in large letters “[kid’s name] Mom (or Dad)!” Put it on the next time they’re disrespectful, explaining that if they’re going to treat you that way, you’ll BE that way!  Start by wearing it around the house, and if the behavior doesn’t change, tell them you’ll wear it in public—where people they know will see it. This will lead to panic and pleading, which opens the door for a conversation about agreeing to show each other mutual respect, and that verbal and nonverbal mockery doesn't feel good. Want to hear the whole story on this? Check out our podcast where I share all the gushy details.

The “Dance-off Countdown” text

I'm here. In 2 minutes I will pump up the base and dance on the sidewalk.

Mom is here. And she's driving the crazy train...

As if driving kids everywhere is not infuriating enough, there’s nothing worse than arriving to pick them up at school, practice, or a friend’s house and they make you WAIT. (My son would linger with his buddies inside the junior high school for 10 minutes AFTER I texted him I was there.)  But this is remedied with a simple text: “I’m here. In 2 minutes I will pump up the bass and start dancing on the sidewalk.”  No more waiting! This text makes any tween/teen coming running. It’s extra impactful if you’re wearing your “Uncool T-shirt” and roll down the car windows with really loud hip-hop music blaring when they approach the car. They’ll know you’re not joking and you will dance boldly. And they'll listen when you explain that making you wait is NOT a good idea, EVER, for everyone’s sanity, because carpools suck and are torturous enough.

So there you go. This is what’s worked in our home, for our kids—and nobody’s called social services yet. (I’m hoping there’s a statute of limitations or something.)
Related: Check out this author's new book, Release My Grip: Hope for a Parent's heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly 

But in all seriousness, I did take my kids’ personalities and life situations into consideration before engaging in these tactics. These might not be appropriate disciplines to use with teenagers who are dealing with significant issues such as being bullied, mental/emotional health issues, drug addiction, self injury or anything else where these strategies might trigger something worse.

Bottom line—being a teenager is really hard, and so is being a parent of one.  And every teenager is unique, and the best discipline for one teenager won't be the same for another. You have to really know them—even when they start acting like strangers.

And you have to keep finding ways to break through the walls they put up and get them talking.

Get creative. Stay engaged. Be bold. Keep trying...let your inner freak flag fly—and raise it high!

Let them know you're still in the game, giving it everything you've got.

They need to know you will not give up on them.

So here’s my last bit of advice. And it’s for everyone:

The best strategy for raising teenagers is to love boldly by building a strong relationship with them as a parent (not as their peer.)

  • Let them know that even when they screw up—that they’re still loved unconditionally.
  • Express your love for them in words, touch and time.
  • Give them responsibilities and boundaries.
  • Allow them to have consequences.
  • Don’t be afraid of tough conversations—and remember to be a listener, too.
  • See them through the eyes of their Creator—they are unique, worthy and have a purpose—and remind them of this often.
  • Connect their search for identity and significance to a faith in a loving, almighty God who is significant in their lives, and yours as well.

And when they push you away, don’t take it personally—just stick around and stay present.

...and keep dancing on the sidewalk.

Raising teenagers is a just a season, my friends, and it will pass.

Want to hear more? Listen to this related podcast!

Written by Kami Gilmour, mom of five teen and young adult kids. She's the author of a new book that chronicles her imperfect journey of parenting in this season with a refreshing sense of honesty, humor, and practical insights:  Release My Grip: Hope for a Parent's Heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly. Kami is also the co-creator of SoulFeed college care packages, the faith-based care package that feeds college students what matters most, and co-host at They Say Podcast where she overshares her crazy (sometimes inappropriate) stories about life, faith, motherhood and more. Kami can be reached for questions and speaking inquiries at

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Showing 74 comments
  • Sharon

    My daughter inlaw Makes the kids ( boy and girl) hug each other and tell each other they love them for about 15 min. Whenever they fight! I think it is an awesome idea!

    • Rebecca

      I did that with my boys when they were young. Now they are 30 & 31.

    • Lanette

      We call that ‘love fest’ at our house! I make them stand hugging each other for 5-10 minuted and say words of love. Within minutes they are usually giggling! Sometimes I make them write short essays about all the ways their sibling is wondeful. I love reality discipline! It’s actually a great keepsake also!

    • Wendy

      That worked great when my dad used it on my brother and me. When I tried to use that same tactic when babysitting my niece & nephew it totally backfired. He licked his sister’s face, which just caused a further fight. Kids sure keep adults on their toes!

      • Kami Gilmour
        Kami Gilmour

        Wendy–I could totally see my kids doing something obnoxious like licking each other to provoke further fighting! So funny!

    • Therese Mullen

      We did the same with our boys and it worked out great.

    • Anonymous

      This is udderlly ludicrous and awful. I would never humiliate my child in front of their peers. It’s difficult enough for kids in HS when they don’t fit in. If they know the consequences of their actions, and they know what is expected, their behavior will change. The key is remaining consistent and taking away privileges that are painful and means the most to them. Humiliation and scarring people into doing what you want them to do is disrespectful and lacks empathy no matter how creative and clever you think you are being. Everyone deserves respect. That’s how they learn it. Otherwise you’re raising a leader that sees nothing wrong with humiliating their employees when they’re out of line.

  • Jo Hagan

    I always threatened to go to school with them, sit at the desk with them and correct them if they couldn’t behave at school. That seemed to work very well. Oh, and of course I explained that I would go in my bathrobe and curliers.

    • Shawnette

      So I did attend school with my daughter when she was a freshman in HS. I wore my normal clothing but I can say that this worked like a charm. I no longer received any more calls from school about behavior or assignments 🙂 when I tell them I’m going to do something I make sure I follow through so that they never doubt the extremes I will go to get them to learn and act right 🙂

  • Jodi

    I have told my niece I’d ride the bus with her, pick her up in my moo moo night shirt. Just like above follow her around at school sit with her. Text & post crazy quotes on her Facebook & private texts. I would have plenty of meet ups with teachers who she blames. Fun stuff!! They can be crazy!! Stand firm!!!

  • C Smalley

    After raising 2 sons, I read in one of the Yada Yada Sisterhood books about THIS brilliant idea:
    When your children have been given a time to be home at night, set an old-fashioned wind up alarm clock to go off at the hour the child is due home. Then go to sleep. (For every hour you sleep before midnight it is worth nearly 2 hours in rest for your body, and us mom’s need that!)
    If the child comes home at or before the correct time, they simply turn off the alarm clock and you get a great night’s sleep. If they DON’T come home at the appointed time, the alarm goes off, you are now awake, and they are really in trouble, but at least you got some sleep before they got home.

    Isn’t this brilliant?

    • vowedmom

      Just make sure any siblings that are home aren’t in cahoots with them to turn it off. And one of my siblings would come home and turn it off and go back out all night! Too smart

    • JULIE

      Except kids would probably sneak out after turning off alarm clock …

  • Stacy

    My mom used to just go to sleep in my bed. I would come home and not realize she was there and it would scare me to death. Plus she always knew when i got home. Luckily, I haven’t had to use this tactic yet with my teens. But a must for all parents is to make sure you have all the full names of their friends with phone numbers. There is nothing more frustrating when you can’t get a hold of your teen. So the next best thing is to call their friends looking for them. This definitely gets their attention!

    • Sherry

      Brilliant!! That is so funny and effective it just took my breath away!!

    • Tricia

      this is a great idea! My son is only 10 and very well behaved, but I’m remembering this one.

    • Betsey

      I will text/call my kids, if they don’t answer I start texting and calling their friends. They respond immediately after that. It works every time!
      Another idea for curfew, for my son every minute he is late is 5 minutes off curfew the next time. Then he is usually given a choice of having an extremely early curfew on a weekend or a week worth of early curfew.

      • Kami Gilmour
        Kami Gilmour

        Betsey these ideas are great! Love them! Totally adding these to my bag of tricks! Thanks for sharing!

  • mr bill

    After losing the obvious: ipad, phone, blah, blah, my son lost something that really hurts:

    His bedroom door.

    He’s working now to earn it back.

    • Beverly

      My oldest son (#2 born child of 4) was such a challenge we tried removing every freedom he had which ultimately left his bedroom door which was removed along with all personal posters, fav clothes etc. All that was left in his room was his Bible and Biology book which he had to complete as it was during summer school. The door was off for 3 months. The only thing left for privacy was the bathroom door! We warned him to make better choices or he would wind up in jail where he had less privacy than we could ever make possible in our home! It helped but he still pushes the boundaries even as an adult living on his own. I know he will never forget our loving correction.

  • Heather

    Punishment chores. Make them do one if the hundreds of things that’s not their job and lighten your load. They lose time, you gain it. Most effective punishment ever.

    • Monica Morehead

      I have twin 11 year old girls. I do this discipline too but it doesn’t work on them. Lol they do the chores then go right back to what they were doing. It’s annoying lol

  • Mimi

    What do you do when your teenager is still living with you and finishing high school, and keeps threatening you they are going to move out? They don’t have a job, the parents are paying for everything still, including stuff like her cell phone. But she continues to disrespect you, lash out, and scream that she’s running away or moving out. I try to talk calmly to her all the time. Until this week we got into a couple arguments. How does one deal with this issue?????? Help!

    • Kami Gilmour
      Kami Gilmour

      Hey Mimi–sorry to hear you’re dealing with this–it’s certainly not fun! But you’re also not alone! I’ll give you a few thoughts from my experience, and then hopefully some other parents can offer suggestions. That’s what this community is all about–supporting each other and learning from each other (but not judging each other or being nasty because it’s hard enough as it is!) Hopefully we all might be of some help!

      1. I’m glad you’re still trying to talk calmly as much as you can (don’t beat yourself up for losing your cool last week–use it as an opportunity to start a conversation about how you don’t want to communicate with each other that way, and it’s painful to scream at each other.)

      2. Have you tried taking away some privileges (like the cell phone and other things you pay for) and outlining some boundaries where she has to “earn” the use of them through civil behavior, grades, chores, etc.? It might help her understand she’s not entitled to those things–and they are perks for being a productive member of the family. Or perhaps require that she get a job in order to pay a portion of the phone, car, etc. (I require my kids to pay for gas and their own insurance on the old family car they share. No money=no runny)

      3. Try to carve out some one-on-one time to focus on the relationship. If possible, set a standing routine that she can count on being part of with you every week. Simple ideas might be a weekly Starbucks date together on a Saturday afternoon–or any activity that you both enjoy (going to a yoga class, or for a walk on a routine basis.) If you go to church, you could head out for a breakfast date afterwards just the two of you as well. If she likes to read, suggest you read the same book and make that part of the conversation. Keep in mind she might tell you she doesn’t want to spend time with you–that’s what teenagers sometimes say–but don’t give up. Keep trying–make some relationship time mandatory, and she’ll give in. Teenagers want to be wanted–even by their parents! (it’s seriously misunderstood!)

      4. Although it’s easier to establish written house “core values” when they’re younger, it’s never too late to start! We brainstormed some as a family years ago (when our kids’elementary school had them it inspired us to make our own). I’ve adapted them over time–but they are posted on the fridge. One of ours is “Respect” and we outline a few points such as no name-calling, no saying “shut up”, no cursing, etc. [I should write a blog post on this–hmmm]. The great thing about Core Values is when kids’ behavior is not acceptable, it’s a chance to talk about the “big-picture” of the value and why the behavior doesn’t mesh. This focuses on the wrongness of the behavior, not the “badness” of the child.

      5. Pray. Ask God to give you strength and wisdom as you lay out some new scenarios for her. Pray for her–that God stirs something in her as well. (and I’m not sure where you are with your faith–but that’s OK. Pray anyway. God is with you and for you!)

      6. For whatever it’s worth–your description of her sounds like me as a teenager. I was very nasty to my parents, I screamed and yelled, I wanted my freedom, was entitled and self-centered, etc. Deep down, I can also tell you I wanted a closer relationship with them and felt like they shut me out because I was troublesome–which just made me act worse. But they did lay out very clear expectations and boundaries where consequences would happen if I didn’t shape up. I would often break those rules just to rebel–but I did know where the line was and actually respected them for following through. It let me know I was still worth fighting for. I just wished they’d tried to spend more one-on-one time. And by the way–we have a great relationship now, but it took until I became a mom to truly understand how hard it was to be a parent, and how hard it must have been to raise me.

      There’s so much more I could say–please keep us posted! And we will be praying for you!
      sending mama love!

      • Alicia

        Sounds like your little girl is scared and is angry at herself for not getting out there and getting a job or going to school. My old pediatrician used to call it the “home terror – street angel” syndrome. She feels comfortable with you and feels she can scream and argue. Just keep talking with her. You might suggest some counseling. She sounds like she needs some encouragement because she’s miserable right now. We had that with my oldest and counseling really helped a lot.

    • Traci


      I am right there with you! My 16 year old daughter screams, yells, throws things, and threatens to run away when she doesn’t get her way.

      In fact, she did briefly run away October 29th and wound up almost seriously injured or worse by being in a van with her drunken ex-boyfriend who fled in the vehicle when my husband finally located them.

      As horrible as it sounds, we called the police that night and started an unruly juvenile charge. If nothing else, maybe a judge can get through her thick skull that soon the consequences will be much worse.

      Ended up calling tonight and the sheriff’s deputy just shook his head. He was appalled at her behavior over being told she couldn’t go out tonight.

      It’s so sad and scary thinking of her future if she doesn’t get it together. 🙁

      • HappyMom88

        Has anyone ever worked with their local law enforcement to arrange to have their teen fake arrested and spend time in a holding cell. Then have an officer converse with them? Also, my son went to confession and a priest had a nice conversation with him warning him that he was going to wind up incarcerated if he didn’t start to change his attitude. Priest also visited inmates in local jail, so he knew. My son worked hard on changing and has done a great job. Will be graduating this spring. Very proud of him.

    • Ljubljana

      That was some great advice above! I would only add to not engage when they are yelling or being extreme. Just sit quietly, focus on something else, watch tv…let them know you’ll be willing to discuss anything once they talk to you calmly.

      Another thing, as you start to see her escalate, use humor (if at all possible) to bring it back down. Unless your child is involved in something criminal, potentially unsafe, or has already started screaming/cursing/hitting, it usually isn’t worth fighting over.
      Another idea, find her a female mentor (Big Brother Big sister) or maybe a female friend willing to help guide her in being a lady. Sometimes it helps if someone besides mom is giving her advice.
      Last, my favorite idea from the one above that worked well with me is the written rules / core value paper. Make 5-10 basic things you expect from your teen and post them (do it while you are not fighting and have her be involved). Then YOU make up the consequences and “rewards” For example, you both agree that she will be home by 10pm during the week. You decide that If she isn’t, she isn’t allowed to go out during the weekend. If she is, then you’ll extend her weekend curfew by an hour. As a teenager, I’ve seen improvements when a teen is allowed to make choices.
      When she threatens to run away or move out, don’t respond at first. Wait until you are both calm, then start talking about what the pros and cons are of her living with someone else (having you pay the rent, bills, food versus having the freedom to do what she wants).
      Remember, the times you aren’t arguing…really try to enjoy those. Be forgiving after a fight.
      Above all else, remember that you are doing great! You aren’t giving up. You’re seeking solutions. You’re one tough mama, but more importantly you are a loving mama, too. No matter what, you got this.

    • Celeste

      I have 4 daughter’s and my eldest is 19. She kept saying that she was going to move out when she was 18. Well she turned 18 the end of Jr. year. My husband and I just told her you are not allowed to move out until after you graduate from high school. If you do move out before graduation you are not taking your car that we paid for. You will no longer have a cell phone that we pay for. I will pack your bags for you to make sure that the only clothes you take with you are the ones we didn’t pay for. We told her that we provide these luxurious for our kids that live at home when they graduate from high school. It worked for us because my daughter was 19 when she graduated and she was living in our house. Also if you are spending the extra money for name brand clothes, shoes, ect… STOP. Those are a luxury and you are only required to make sure she has clothing and food so if she wants to be disrespectful to you and not follow the rules of your home then she can wonly wear the yard sale/hand me down clothes you are going to start buying for her.

    • KAS

      I hope things are getting better for you by now. Is your daughter an only child by any chance?
      As a mom of 4, I have always used humor(at least to me! They haven’t always thought it was funny!) when the kids threaten to move out, run away, etc…. I just tell them that they are leaving this house the same way they came in– Bare-assed naked and broke!

      I never told them they can’t leave, can’t move out, etc. I just say everything you have is because you live in this house so if you move out, you will be losing all of that 😀
      I also remind them I am only required to provide food, shelter and basic clothing. Basic clothing doesn’t have to come from the mall– it can come from the Goodwill store!

      Don’t play her game. Once she figures out that mom isn’t going to be a pushover, she may change her attitude.And if all else fails, offer to help her pack the few things she will take– that usually throws a kink into their plans too!

  • Gloria Jones

    As a 19 year old. I adore these, not only are they effective but remind me of my 12-16 years. My favorite was my dads game called night and day. When we were supposed to be sleeping and were playing or watching tv instead, he would make us put on dsy clothes and clran gross stuff like toilets and drains. Then in 15 minutes, we would change into pajamas and go to sleep. In 15 minutes he would wake us up and do it over again until we learned to do as told.

  • Vanessa

    punishment chores! Tired of taking away phone, TV, video games that were no longer effective. I gave my son punishment chores. And when he didn’t come down to start when I asked… He got more chores added on. He also woke me up one night after I told him I was going to bed, so the next morning I woke him up and let the dog on his bed and lick his face. Lol

  • Mom in High Heels

    I have a tween, and while he’s actually a really well behaved kid, there are times when he doesn’t listen quite as well as he should. I always tell him that if he doesn’t listen, I will dance in front of his friends. I frequently feel the need to give him a demonstration while we’re in the house. I pull out some amazing moves. It reminds him how very dangerous I can be when crossed. 😉

  • Dallas Palmeri

    The last paragraph wraps it up so well:
    “You’ll notice there’s a “fear” factor in all of these tactics, but keep in mind, these are absolutely not meant to be sadistic pranks to humiliate your teenagers—they’re meant to prove a point, deter future misbehavior, and create an opportunity for a meaningful conversation about the lesson learned.”

    I like how these are quick and to the point, no long drawn out lectures, and no consequences to make them follow through on. Smart.

  • Bobbie Nance

    As a teen my parents took my bedroom door, my makeup and when they found my hidden cigarettes she broke them in half, stuck a toothpick in the bottom half and placed them back in the box. When I found my box of petite cigs I smoked them but knew it wasn’t worth the fight! I hated them at the moment, but thank God for them daily.

    • Traci

      I pray that one day my teen feels as you do now about your parents!

  • Monica

    So funny and so heartfelt. Love the good advice sprinkled with an amazing sense of humor.

  • Craig

    These examples are very immature and unnecessary, especially if you practice some form of discipline at an early age (I’m not talking about waiting until they turn 2). I’m talking corporal punishment per say either. My rule of thumb on corporal punishment was to use it only when my children engaged in behavior that could hurt themselves or someone else; or when they are right disrespectful in public to myself or my, now, ex-wife.Together we have 3 kids…NEVER went through the “terrible twos,” all three are “yes sir/ma’am”, “no sir/ma’am” to adults and say “please” and “thank you,” when appropriate, to everyone. Never an issue at school with behavior or grades. Guess, what? We never implemented immature tactics such as this.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Kami Gilmour

      Good for you, Craig! Sometimes we parent according to our personalities–and I’m glad both of our families are doing well despite they way we’re wired to react. 🙂

    • Lulu

      I am glad that you have a parenting success story, defined by your respectful, thoughtful children. I do find this to be a very interesting response and ironic that you have very well behaved children but a broken family/marraige. Divorce is difficult and I know occurs for many, many reasons. I would hope that experience would have made you humble about failures and difficult family situations. I would hope none of us would be so quick to criticize the sharing of ideas. We all have struggles, people are messy! I hope we are always seeking new ways to handle our difficulties. I hope that we see that, no matter what, we cannot be perfect or do it all just right all the time… and I hope that realization points us to the true hope we have in Christ
      The parent of a now-15 year old cannot turn back the clock and discipline any different in the past. We can spend time analyzing the discipline we “should” have provided but that may not change our current situation. We can only learn from it and go forward.
      We have parented our children the best we could since the beginning and as you put it, “practiced some sort of discipline” since they were born. We have had no major problems so far. We also have well behaved “yes sir/no sir” kids. We often get compliments for their behavior.
      And YET…
      I know, firsthand, Things are not always as they seem. I am not implying this is true in your kids, but I was a very well behaved teenager, WELL BEHAVED… yet, my motivation was not obedience from a grateful changed heart… my motivation was that my good behavior could make me successful, loved or even could save me. What I know, is that how I was parented through my teen years is not how I want to parent. Anger, hitting, hair pulling, bullying, slapping and threatening to be sent away are not the techniques I wish to use… and that was when I brought home a B instead of an A on a report card. So, I have to seek out different ways…
      I think the best idea with most blogs/advice articles is that we take what we can use and adapt it to our situations if appropriate. We leave what we disagree with and move on. The most important thing is that we do not fall into the dangerous thinking that we might be able to affect their behavior and affecting their behavior be enough. Good, well-behaved children/teens sure make life easier but it does help to know whether the motivation of that behavior is people pleasing or if it motivated from a heart that has been changed. We must trust the Lord to change their hearts. If their hearts are dead, we are just forcing pretty actions that will not grow and thrive and change lives. Heart change should always be the hope in all our parenting techniques.

      So, if every now and then, an “immature” parenting technique seems the right way to go… I may choose that to shock them into seeing that I really care about the behavior flowing out of their hearts…
      and just maybe to give them good stories to tell our grandchildren of the fun-crazy people who loved them, raised them and pointed them to Jesus.

    • Amy

      I’m sorry but I don’t believe that, I have a 13 yr old son that is very well behaved with straight A’s, he has an attitude every ounce in awhile. No kid is perfect.

  • MeggieB

    Corporal punishment should begin with a talk, sorrow, affirming love, PRAYER TOGETHER, more affirming love and sorrow from parent, then the ‘APPROPRIATE’ punishment, followed by hugs, affirming love, sorrow of their past and… confidence in the child’s future better choices. DO study what is abusive versus instructional!!!! NO HUMILIATING, NO PUNISHING IN FRONT OF FAMILY MEMBERS OR OTHERS, MARKING OR BRUISING, OVER DOING (MATCH THE PUNISHMENT TO THE PROBLEM) MOCKING, BLAMING, REJECTING, MOLESTING, GLOATING OVER THE PARENT’S POWER!!! Corporal punishment is rarely needed; ignorant, mean, dense parents use it as first resort versus the LAST resort!!!!

  • Anne Pharr

    Sometimes we have our middle school-aged kids “write lines” (just like in the old days when students had to write lines on the chalkboard). But instead of just “I will not _________,” we require them to write something like “Instead of [whatever the offense was], I will [a more acceptable choice] because [a reason that the second choice is better.” This way, they have to give consideration to good choices and the reasons for them, instead of just thinking about what *not* to do. When the offense happens, it’s pretty cut and dried–no discussion, arguing, or negotiation needed. Everything stops until the lines are written. At one point, I even kept spiral notebooks in the car (because of a tendency to argue/bicker in the car, which is especially unpleasant for me).
    Of course, the number of lines can increase if the behavior continues. And we also talk about the importance of offering a sincere apology and a request for forgiveness. Sometimes these are written too. One of the best parts? Looking back at the accumulation of lines and pointing out how much they have grown/matured!

  • Ann

    I have a pre-teen who is so far pretty good. However, I warned him if he ever starts hanging around the delinquent kids, trying drugs, and so on, after the FIRST instance of trouble I WILL be yanking him out and homeschooling him. He hates the thought of homeschooling so much because he loves the bustle and activity of school and friends. He seems to be on a good path so far, though, good grades and good friends.

  • Celeste

    I have 4 daughter’s from 19 to 12 and my girls have only been late for curfew once. My husband told them that for every minute they’re late that’s one day grounded. Needless to say they were only late that one time. It works for our house. I do need ideas for how to make them do their chores without having to be told to do them every single day.

    • Shelle

      Chores are an issue it seems with alot of parents. When raising my daughter and my exboyfriend’s kids we had a chore hat in which we placed chores that needed to be done daily. Once a week the kids would take turns picking out their chores for the week.Each child had 3 chores to do ranging from feeding the pets, trash to be taken out or helping after dinner to clean up etc..simple tasks that can be done quickly. If a chore was not done then the children all had to wait do do their activies till the child responsible did their chore. In doing so the children made sure they each had done their particular chores so they could all go n do their activies. It aloso made them see the benefits of working together.

  • Zach

    Thanks for all the great ideas and the laughs! Here’s where we talked about it on The Wally Show!

    • Kami Gilmour
      Kami Gilmour

      Thanks Zach! And wow–how awesome would it have been if I was listening to your show with my kids in the car when that aired! I did play the podcast for them later–and they almost fell over. Anyway–thanks for sharing the link! You guys are the best, we love the Wally Show and Way FM! Thanks for all you guys do!

  • Carol

    I have 4 children, 2 in their 20s and 2 teenagers. I used a lot of the “immature” tactics to curb the disturbing teen behavior. I used to turn up the nursery rhymes music cds in the car as I was picking them up if I had to wait or if disrespect was an issue … Windows rolled down and singing as loud as I could. The funny part was that my older kids now admit that they plan to do the same thing to their kids. My younger two know what I’m capable of, so they watch themselves. The other day, my youngest had 2 friends in the car and I was driving them to a ball game. I got a look of contempt from Jr. so I said, “why the look? Was I singing out loud or was that just in my head?” He said, “No.” His eyes got really wide as I asked, “Do you want me to?” His tone changed. You have to do what you can to avoid the awful fights. They are just damaging to the relationship. Mimi, my oldest son used to threaten to leave. So one day we sat down and figured out how much money he would need to be able to support himself and still have the stuff he “needed” to be happy. Then we got the classified ads to see what kind of job a 17 year old could get and make that kind of money. Needless to say, the threats stopped. He graduated from college last year and is supporting himself, and so is my oldest daughter. I guess I did something right… Even if it was immature.

  • Great Grandma of 24 - Phyllis Phillips

    There is a difference between:
    You CAN’T go to the mall until your room is clean!
    WHEN your room is clean you will be able to go to the mall.

  • Shelli

    This is great! During these subzero winter days in Wyoming I’ve been driving the boys to school. When I drop off my 7th and 8th grade sons, I’ve been making a bit of a scene, honking and blowing kisses to them. They asked me to take it down some (lots of) notches. We struck a deal that if they blow kisses and wave all the way into the building, I won’t honk and yell at them. It works.

  • Deniece Young

    I have a 13 yr old daughter that is a negative nancy about everything! I’ve had her brain storm positive things, think happy thoughts, made faces at her, danced crazy, had heart to heart talks about it, anything I could think of to get her off of what ever she’s being negative about. Her dad is so fed up with it that its spoiling time he try’s to spend with her and her sister. I’m out of ideas. Help!

  • Janet Loux

    I love these. The curfew one is pure genius. My sudden stroke of genius: We have 3 teenage boys who loved (notice the past tense) to constantly pick at each other, especially in public. I suspect it was because they knew how I despised it. I was completely fed up with 2 of them one day in Wal-Mart, so I made them hold hands during the rest of the hour-long shopping trip. They saw some of their high school teachers, coaches, friends. Pure humiliation. Now they joke about it. If I give “the look” one of them will say, “We better stop or Mom will make us hold hands.”

  • Chris

    I have 2 boys 13 & 16. I was tired of the farting and being mean to me. So, I told them that every time I hear them fart or that I felt they were being mean, then I would not pack their lunch the next day. Whoa! They put a very high value on food at this age and things have gotten so much better!

  • Colleen

    I have a 15 year old daughter who is an amazing person. She is involved in school and church. Everyone tells me how lovely she is. This is all true, except when she walks through the door of our home. She turns into a snarky hurtful person to her brother. To my husband and I she is snippy, aloof and very impatient. I am hearing that this isn’t all together abnormal, however, I find it rude and hurtful. My husband and I have reprimanded, grounded, taken away privileges, etc etc etc, but it doesn’t seem to really change much. One thing our family does love is humour and it does dissipate quite a bit of tension. Does anyone have a suggestion to deal with this behaviour?

    • Kami Gilmour
      Kami Gilmour

      Hey Colleen–I can totally relate to every word you’ve written! My daughter was exactly like that at 15, and my sons who are now 17 and 14 are the same way. I think it’s totally normal–and the fact that everyone who interacts with them says their great is reassuring. But it’s still painful! A few things I can tell you–they get nicer when they go to college! My daughter who’s 19 is now the sweetest, most grateful, talkative young lady who actually wants to spend time with us! She’s suddenly kind to her brothers as well. I think it’s part of them pulling away and growing up, and then realizing how much they truly love their family when they get some distance.

      But that’s not to say you can’t do anything about it now. Even though I sound like a broken record, I call my kids out on disrespectful attitudes to me and my husband and their siblings. I keep reinforcing that I love them and they are wonderful but the tone is hurtful and I miss their sweetness. I also agree with you that humor does help a lot. There’s something about laughing together as a family. Trying to arrange some family time with comedies–even board games. Even though teenagers tend to put up a fuss at first, it’s part of the schtick.

      Another profound thing we discovered was serving together as a family changed the dynamic a bit. Last summer we went to Costa Rica on mission trip Lifetree Adventures, and it rocked my kids’ world. I realized that getting out of the home environment into a new place required all of us to be a “team.” And we all had a common purpose–to build a house together for a sweet family who had absolutely nothing. We had to rely on each other, we were challenges, and we were focused on something totally outside of ourselves. In the evenings we had a time for “God Sightings” and my kids talked about how they saw qualities of Christ in each other and how God had revealed a new sense of respect for each other. For my youngest son, who typically bears the brunt of their snide remarks, this was life-changing. We’re going back to Costa Rica this summer to serve again, and also talking about ways we can serve in our local community as a family. It was seriously the most profound moment as a parent to see my kids in a new light that week. And although they are still typical teenagers today, I do think it changed the dynamic a little bit in our home. It’s not perfect. But it is better.

  • Sarah

    Horrible ideas – humiliation and fear are not loving discipline tactics…they are scare tactics. The use of any of these tactics will increase resentment…We praise in public and reprimand in private. Please read Matthew 18:15-17.

  • Holly

    I do threaten to go out to the bus stop in my nightgown and give 15-year-old son a kiss when the bus comes. I would do it, too, and he knows it.

  • Maria Davis

    This was absolutely perfect. Love the outlandish ideas and the practical conversations to attach to them. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Valerie Ross

    My threat for each as they entered middle school was: If you get in trouble at school that involves any disciplinary actions that require me to be notified your mother will be there for as many days as the punishment to have lunch with you in your lunchroom in rollers and a bathrobe. As I walk in I will be hugging you and yelling in my most shrill voice “Look at my baby- isn’t he just the cutest” My kids know I’m a little nuts and would do it gladly so needless to say- 2 down with no issue’s and one to go 🙂

  • aimee

    I have a friend who puts her girls on 1970’s punishment. If it didnt exist in 1970, they cant have it. Soo they can watch TV…on ABC, NBC, CBS! They can listen to the radio…AM stations. They can have the phone…the corded phone on the wall in the kitchen! No dvds, ipods…nithing. I thought that was a good plan!

    • David

      Where did she find an 8-track player?

  • David

    I never could sleep when my kids were out at night, so I was right there when they got home. Knowing I would be, helped make sure they got in on time. I never stressed over them being a few minutes late, but over 30 minutes, there was explaining to do. I sometimes run late, and understand they may as well. I never wanted them driving fast to make up for lost time. I do like the idea of scaring the business out of them with a clown head, though. As far as the eye-rolling and sighing and all, I would just let it slide. Kids need harmless ways to release frustration or agitation. I did my own share of eye rolls and sighs. As long as they weren’t threatening to kill me, I just gave them a pass on that. They knew better than to act like that in public, but were allowed more leeway at home. After school, unless there were appointments, I was always happy to let them visit with their friends. Friendships are the most important thing a kid could have, and it was always nice to let them develop and maintain those, wherever they could. Once home there was less chance they would be interacting with friends. Some kids need more coercion than others, but don’t get too stressed or obsessed with things that wont mean anything later on.

  • John Waldrup

    I enjoyed reading your comments and all the responses. I am a grandfather with almost grown grandchildren. I have very little profound advice to offer. In parenting, it seems like we learn the most after the fact. My own father treated all of us the same as far as rules and consequences. My older sister responded positively and I responded very negatively to the same offense in the same instance at the same time.
    God’s grace is what I have always needed. Grace to do right in spite of my parents’ mistakes. Grace to do right and obey their just standards. Grace to be wise. Grace to love. To forgive. To give. Over and over again. Grace to love God and rejoice in His goodness.
    Press on for His glory.

  • Troy

    My kid would laugh at all the punishments listed. Dancing outside the high school? She would just Snapchat that one. Her friends would probably come out and dance with me.

    My kid doesn’t yell or threaten. She just smokes pot, sneaks out of the house, drives off with the car in the middle of the night (unlicensed), shoplifts, hasn’t talked to her mother in months, and denies, denies, denies! I just found pot in her bedroom, again. This has to be the twelfth time that she promised me that she didn’t have any (though I can smell it), only for me to find it.

    National Honors Society, top athlete, very considerate (though often moody). At my wits end with this girl. She’s already gotten into legal trouble.

    Kills me, because she’s on third base (academics, athletics, charming and beautiful), but acting out in ways that will get her thrown out of the game.

    I’ve always said that if you resort to stick vs. carrot, you are not clever or patient enough. Has worked wonders for her sisters, but I haven’t slept well in the last year due to this one. Tried the stick many times, to no avail.

  • Chris

    You had me reading until you brought your god into it. I’ll try the other advice and leave the hocus pocus to you.

  • Jac

    Try dealing with twin 17 yo boys, when every second word is a curse word and every other word in between is no. Try dealing with a son who puts a knucklebuster on and goes to hit you in the face. Try dealing with a house full of holes, broken windows and appliances. Try talking to boys who just curse at you and walk off. No punishments work, they just say no. Try talking to boys who think they are so smart if you try talking to them they spend the whole time correcting your grammar. Try talking to boys who don’t give a f*ck and know you have no real power. Try talking to boys who send you to your room. Try being the only female at home when they are tearing the house apart. Try talking to police for help and they do nothing. This is all a load of rubbish, the only time there will be peace in this house in when they threaten to leave and actually do it. If they are a creation of God, he was in a funny mood that day. Try being two peace loving parents who have never raised a hand in anger and always forgive and the only time your children are nice to you is when they want something. I am so past it, I have stopped taking all my life saving medication in the hopes I die soon.

    • Kami Gilmour
      Kami Gilmour

      Jac–I am so sorry you are dealing with such a tough situation with your boys. Your life and health matters–please reach out to a doctor or therapist if you’re feeling this helpless and hopeless. You need to take care of YOU! Please also know that you are NOT alone, and you’re in a really hard season of parenting and sometimes it really does get this bad. For now just hang on, pray for peace, take care of yourself and know this will not last forever. Soon they will be 18, and my advice in this case is to send them off to deal with the world for a reality wake-up call that will likely change their tune. Let them know their behavior is unacceptable and they will need to be independent and be on their own. Don’t bail them out, rescue, protect, or tolerate them living at home after age 18.

      I am praying for your family.

  • Beth Lawrence

    My son’s daughter recently turned 14 and also met a boy at school that she calls her boyfriend. She has changed drastically since spending time with this boy. She no longer believes in God, will not say Grace before meals, is disrespectful to her father and stepmother and abusive to her younger brother. She told my son to f*** off while he was trying to talk to her and his instincts kicked in instead of his common sense and he smacked her in the mouth. He regretted it instantly, but the damage was done. His daughter, however, reported to the school counselor and to the police officer on duty at the school that her father had punched her with a closed fist and knocked her off her feet. She’s been staying with her Mother ever since the incident, because she lets her see the boyfriend. My son has custody and she has weekend visitation. Now, both my son and her Mother have NO idea what to do with her!She’s doing whatever she wants and threatening to turn them in to CPS if they discipline her in any way. CPS did visit my son and he explained the incident and they closed the case and said they could see through her lies. My son wants he back home, but wants the boyfriend out of her life. She was always very well behaved and went to Church and it was yes mam/no mam…yes sir/ no sir. Now he is clueless, but is unwilling to give up on his daughter.

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