Our teen will break rules and cross lines.
Whether it’s staying out past curfew, talking back, or experimenting with risky behaviors, it can be tough to know how to respond in a way that is firm yet supportive.
These kinds of challenges are a normal part of the teen years. They are trying to assert their independence. And let’s not forget their struggle with impulse control because of their developing brain. Especially when the’re surrounded by peers.
That doesn’t mean we should ignore, condone or excuse this behavior. They need to learn how to regulate their emotions, make responsible decisions and accept responsibilities for their actions.
In this blog I will give you a proven strategy for setting limits and how to respond when your teen breaks the rules.
Step 1: Make a list of your rules
Make a list of all the rules and chores in your household. Take some time with your husband/wife/partner and re-evaluate and update the list. Are all the rules and chores still valid? Are they outdated? Are they still appropriate? What can be added, what can be changed?
Step 2: Determine your non-negotiables
Most of the time we have rules that are non-negotiables. They are not up for discussion or compromise. Think about what your non-negotiables are. They are different for every family. Because it depends on your values.
I recommend having not more than 3 non-negotiables. Determine what the consequences are when your non-negotiable rules are broken.
Remember that discipline should always come with the opportunity to make things right again. We want them to learn from their mistakes.
Grab the free Guidebook “How to Respond When Your Teen Breaks the Rules: with cheatsheets & worksheets.
Step 3: Have a sit down with your teen about the rules in your household
Have an open and honest discussion with your teen about the household rules. Tell them that the purpose of the meeting is to come to a mutual agreed upon understanding of the rules and chores in the household. Make sure to do this when you are all calm.
Tell them that there are a few non-negotiables but that you’re open to discussion and possible compromise on other. It should be clear that you both agree on both the rule and the consequence if the rule is broken.
Step 4: Negotiate and compromise on the rules and chores in your household
I recommended asking the teen what they think should be the consequence.
You’d be surprised by how reasonable teens will be when you give them the opportunity to negotiate.
Step 5: Sign the list and put it somewhere visible
Write down the new list, including the consequences.
If you want, sign the list (both you and your teen) and put the list somewhere visible.
This preparation is not a guarantee that your teen won’t break the rules. Even the ones you compromised on.
She’s a teen and teen tend to be impulsive. She will cross the line.
But if you’ve gone through step in to 5, it’s easier to know how to respond when she does break the rules. Because you don’t have to make a decision on the spot about what the consequence should be.
How to respond when she breaks the rules?
It’s actually pretty simple.
Calmly state that the rule has been broken and that such behavior is unacceptable.
That’s it. No nagging. No lecture. No outbursts from your side.
Tell her that the rule remains in effect and what the consequence is.
Repeat if needed (but not more than once)
Walk away. The walking away is very important. Especially if your daughter is arguing with you, being unreasonable, rude or disrespectful. When you walk away this means that the battle becomes a internal debate. This way she has to deal with the conflict and that’s exactly what she needs to learn.
And when everybody has calmed down (maybe that will take a day), have a conversation about what happened.
What to do and not do in this conversation
When you have this conversation:
- Allow her to express her feelings.
- Validate her feelings without giving in.
- Share your thoughts about the reason behind the rule.
- Be clear about the fact that the rule remains in place and that you expect her to respect the consequence.
I hope these guidelines will help you keep you cool. And give you the tools to help your daughter manage conflict and contend authority in a respectful way.
And don’t feel bad about arguing with your daughter. Conflict isn’t always bad. The fighting between you two isn’t always a measure of a bad relationship. In fact: many girls who regularly fight with their moms, will, later on, say that they have a close relationship.
Go ahead: have the fight. You got this momma!
Grab your free guidebook: How to Respond When Your Teen Breaks the Rules
- A guide on how to have healthy fight
- A cheat sheet to remind you to change your mindset
- A worksheets to write down all rules and chores and to determine the non-negotiobles and what to negotiate on
- A fill-in agreement of rules and consequences for you and your teen to sign
- A cheat sheet with the 5 steps of the way to respond when your teen breaks the rules