Punishment Versus Discipline


Our video this month discusses the difference between Punishment Versus Discipline.

Disciplining a teenager can often be difficult, and you may feel like you want to give up—especially when your tween or teen is bigger, taller, or louder than you! Teens often feel like they will never get caught, so consequences don’t even cross their mind. When they do get caught, they often figure out ways to evade getting caught a second time. Many parents throw their hands up in defeat and give in to the false belief that their role as a disciplinarian is over. I want to encourage you to press on! These are important years for parenting, and discipline shouldn’t stop just because your child is now a young adult.

I’d like to offer a few things to consider when disciplining your tween or teen for poor choices. These aren’t “how to’s” as much as strategies to keep in mind when coming up with consequences for actions.

First, fight for the relationship. Though something might have been damaged—like a car or a piece of furniture—those can be fixed. Trust and respect, however, are almost impossible to replace once they are gone. When your teen makes a bad choice that ends up impacting you or others, remember to protect your relationship with your teen above becoming angry about a material object. Treat your son or daughter with respect, while acknowledging the bad choice and how it is impacting others.

Second, look ahead to the finish line. When your teen does something wrong, don’t focus on their character now but where you want them to be down the road. Teens make immature choices; they may lie, cheat, steal, or be sneaky. But that doesn’t mean they will always do those things. Discipline them now, with the character in mind you are helping them develop.

Third, remind your tween of the natural consequences of poor choices. If drinking will cause them to be dismissed from a sports team, help your tween to see their goals and make choices that align with those goals.

Finally, come up with consequences together. Bring your tween or teen into the process. Not only does it help them see their wrong and evaluate it, it treats them as an adult (despite their childish behavior!) by communicating you value their opinion. Often, teens will come up with discipline that is more severe than you would have given them!

Keep in mind that just as God uses discipline to instruct and correct you toward maturity, you are to use discipline to guide your son or daughter toward maturity. Ultimately, the goal is to raise young adults who not only make wise decisions that will benefit them, but also adult children who will make godly decisions that reflect God’s character.

Hopefully, the suggested questions in this month’s Online Parenting Class will help create a safe environment for your teen to open up and talk to you. Be patient, however! Sometimes this takes more time than you would like! I’m praying for you and an email away if you have any questions.

Partnering with you,

Parenting Class Video


Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, suggestions or problems with these resources!

p.s. Watch for more help in part 2!