Setting Rules & Discipline with Teens

Dr. Greg Allen, Ph.D., LMFT

Setting Ground Rules:

Research shows that young people are less likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs if their parents set clear rules about not doing so. If parents have not previously established rules around more basic activities of daily living, however, they will have little chance of getting their children to obey a rule about not using marijuana, tobacco, or other drugs.

Make your position clear when it comes to dangerous substances like alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Don’t assume that your children know where you stand.

 

They want you to talk to them about drugs. State your position clearly; if you’re ambiguous, children may be tempted to become involved with tobacco products, alcohol, or other drugs.

 

Tell your children that you forbid them to use alcohol, tobacco, and drugs because you love them. (Don’t be afraid to pull out all the emotional stops. You can say, “If you took drugs it would break my heart.”) Make it clear that this rule holds true even at other people’s houses.

 

Will your child listen? Most likely. According to research, when a child decides whether or not to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, a crucial consideration is: What will my parents think?

Make Your Position on Drugs Clear:

Setting Ground Rules:

We all want a peaceful household, but conflict will probably arise when your teen does not follow the rules. A question you might ask is: What is the consequence for breaking the rules?

 

The important point here is to not overreact; however, you should set a punishment that has some impact. Remember, you’re the parent and you set the rules and consequences, which are not negotiable.

 

Aim for reasonable punishments. Keep in mind that the punishment should not be much longer than three weeks. If it’s too long, your child will forget why he’s being punished.

Make Your Position on Drugs Clear:

Sometimes teens need the language to help them stay away from risky situations. Here are some lines you can provide your teenager. In addition, this is also an opportunity to get your kids to think for themselves. Ask them what they would say or do in risky situations. Then you can give your teen examples like the ones listed here:

 

"I like you, but I don't like drugs."
"I'd get kicked off the team if I was caught around drugs."
"It makes me uncomfortable to be around drugs."
"I'd be happy to help you (go to a teacher, parent or coach),
but I can't be around you when you use drugs."
"My dad (or mom, grandmother, etc.) would kill me if they knew I was around drugs."
"No, thanks. It's not for me."
"Why would I want to mess up a good thing? I am cool the way I am."
"You're kidding, right? Why would I do something so dumb?"
"No way man, drugs are stupid."
"I can't use drugs. I have a big game (or test) tomorrow."
"I tried drinking once and I threw up."
"That's illegal. I don't want to get in trouble (have my license
taken away, get kicked out of school, ruin my chance for a scholarship, etc.)."

 

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