Offer Teenagers Positive, Age Appropriate Discipline
Like many aspects of parenting, discipline can get trickier as children turn into teenagers. Although your kids are outgrowing timeouts or the loss of television privileges, they haven’t outgrown the need for loving, healthy boundaries-and consequences when they mess up. Discipline methods may change as kids age, but the goal is the same: shaping them into responsible, respectful Christian adults who internalize God-honoring boundaries and good behavior.
Even when teenagers have more say in their rules, parents still have important roles to play. You clearly communicate and enforce the expectations and limits. You stand your ground when teenagers challenge your authority. You discipline (and follow through) in a calm, consistent way. You’re present during good and bad times, assuring teenagers that you love them even when they mess up. Finally, you model good behavior, showing how loving obedience yields rewards.
Parenting expert Jim Burns says the goal of discipline is to teach kids responsibility, not to evoke obedience. “Our job is not to always prevent our children from making mistakes but rather to make certain they learn from their mistakes,” he says. This needs to be done in a relaxed, respectful way, and it’s the parent’s job to establish this tone. “Shame-based parenting, when parents attempt to influence their kids’ behavior through shaming, nagging, and negativity, simply doesn’t work in the long run,” Burns says.
Read on for more insights about the power of positive and loving Christian discipline.
In the Bible, the book of Jonah tells of a prophet who learned a tough lesson about disobeying God. Jonah story gives us insights into God’s relentless pursuit of people who try to flee from him:
The prophet Jonah is a quite complex (and sometimes humorous) character. As we watch, he attempts to do the exact opposite of what God asked him to do: Go to Nineveh.
Trying to run away from God is a fruitless venture. He may let you off the hook for a short while, but in the end his purposes will be realized.
You can choose to live outside God’s plans, or you can participate with him in the big picture he has designed for our lives, your circle of friends, your community, and the world. When we try to run away from God, we miss out on the joy of obedience.
We’re a lot like Jonah, (complex and sometimes humorous) in how we respond to God. Read Jonah 1-3 with your teenager. Each of you just might see yourself in Jonah’s story. As Karl Barth said, “Man can certainly flee from God, but he cannot escape him.”


Check out these interesting statistics about teenagers and discipline:
In an online poll, 273 teenagers responded to the question “What types of discipline do your parents regularly or usually use on you?” The top answers were:
– Loss of privileges such as cell phone (51%)
– Being grounded (40%)
– Physical punishment (22%)
– None; they either don’t believe in discipline or are too wimpy to be confrontational (20%)
– Assigned extra household chores (19%)
In the same poll, kids were asked how strict their parents are. Almost half (43%) of kids agreed with the statement “They let most things slide but are strict on the big stuff.” But 12% of kids agreed with the statement “They’re unpredictable; they go between strict and permissive, depending on their mood, how they feel, or maybe what phase the moon is that day.” (

Great Questions
…to Ask Your Kids
Your teenagers probably have strong opinions about this hot topic. Dig deeper by asking them:
1. What types of discipline and consequences are appropriate and inappropriate for teenagers, and why?
2. Should teenagers have a say in how or when they’re punished? If so, explain.
3. When parents are handing out discipline, what should be their motivation and goals?
4. At what age should teenagers be responsible for controlling and monitoring their own behavior, and why?
5. How do people develop self-discipline? How strong has yours been lately?

Pray that:
1. God will guide your decisions about boundaries and consequences.
2. Your teenagers will recognize that your discipline is motivated by love and concern for them.
3. God will give your teenagers an obedient spirit, accompanied by respect for you and all authorities.
4. Your teenagers will develop self-discipline and internalize the guidelines you set for them.

“God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening-it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Hebrews 12:10-11)
God disciplines his children because he loves us and wants us to follow the right path. Although the training is difficult, filled with sinful missteps that require forgiveness, the end result is worth it. By submitting to the discipline of our heavenly Father, we show that we trust him to mold us into faithful Christians who live for him.
What’s Up With Kids
At, youth ministry author Doug Fields shares his insights about the necessity and value of discipline.
Discipline is like a root canal. It isn’t fun, but it’s good for you. Both are simple but decisive procedures that keep decay from destroying a whole structure, whether it be a tooth or a person. Once done, the weak and painful is restored to a state of strength and usefulness. Biblically speaking, discipline is a necessary good because of evil. Discipline is a positive promoter of spirituality, morality, and relational integrity, which the Bible refers to as “righteousness.” So while discipline may keep the peace, its primary purpose is to help teenagers mature spiritually. There’s the connection between discipline and discipleship. Often, the act of speaking the truth (with an attitude of grace) can help jump-start a young person’s growth process. Here are some helpful discipline tips:
1. Expect good behavior. Set a tone of positive expectation. Be genuinely surprised when you don’t see it.
2. Communicate clearly. Don’t waste rules. Teenagers will remember and follow only a few. Also, clearly communicate about consequences. It isn’t fair to surprise kids by disciplining them with measures they’re unaware of.
3. Enforce lovingly. The consequence for not following the rules is worthless if not enforced, and to enforce means you need to follow through.
Use these three steps with grace and truth. Our goal is always a desire to help kids, not to demean them in any way. If you ever feel like you’re disciplining in anger, hold off and act at another time.
Oh Crud! My Parents Joined Facebook/Twitter/Instagram
I found a site called, a collaborative portfolio of social doom. Black text on a white background reads “Oh Crud. My Parents Joined Facebook.” Below, in all caps: “Congratulations! Your parents just joined Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or etc, – YOUR place! Your life is officially over.” (i.e. Status update – It’s all smoke and mirrors, Mom – Call me, you shouldn’t be smoking!). It’s about an exclusive clubhouse becoming something else.
The appeal of Facebook is that “everyone’s” on it; for many, the site becomes a utility instead of a destination. But “everyone” being on it creates pitfalls, as well. Adults learn “how to use Facebook” by seeing how others in their peer group use it. If a young person or adult takes a chance on “friending” someone from a different peer group, culture clash is almost inevitable.
From the example of our peers, we learn how to navigate the world. The issue with Facebook is that it’s an enormous world masquerading as a clubhouse. For each individual user, the space feels like a club: full of your friends, absent prying eyes. In reality, adults can be on Facebook and it feels like their place—after all, it’s populated by all the people they know!—and young people can be on it and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it’s theirs.
Danah Boyd’s field research among teenagers in Atlanta explores the possibility that the success or failure of interactions between adults and young people on Facebook might depend on socioeconomic status. “One argument made about the differences between teens from wealthy and poor environments,” she writes, “is that wealthy teens are much more likely to integrate with adults than teens from poorer backgrounds.”
The problem with adults being on Facebook is that, in the real world, they’re the rule enforcers. They determine the rules that matter. Not for coolness, survival, approval, or social advancement. The creators of, Erika Brooks Adickman and Jeanne Leitenberg ultimately say their site isn’t meant to dissuade parents from joining in on the online fun. Leitenberg says her relationship with her father has even — gasp! — grown closer since he joined Facebook. Instead, sites like MyParentsJoinedFacebook are meant to help parents avoid common pitfalls. “We want people to know that when they get that friend request, it’s O.K. to say yes,” Brooks Adickman says.
So what has the Facebook clubhouse become? It’s a place for everyone to get a little bit of insight into who we all are. It’s a place where judgment should remain silent. A place where a bit of our feeling show through and a place for learning how to bridge the gaps between cultures exists. Parents and youth should realize that it’s easy to say and post what you want on line and it’s pretty much a chance to see the confident, shy, scared, loving Christian you are.