Teen Won’t Obey the Rules


There are several reasons why teens don’t follow their parents' rules. It could range from it not being a good rule, to they only want total freedom to do what they want.

Rules are necessary in any system, but in a family, rules without relationship will always lead to rebellion. Also, the primary goal of parenting is not to get your teens to be compliant, or to simply live by your rules. 

To start with, know that your greatest influence on your teen comes from your relationship, not from your roles. Realize that a parent's primary goal is to help their teen become independent and self-responsible, not to just obey the rules.

To do this:

Set up consequences ahead of time.
  Introducing a consequence at the time of infraction will often create a power struggle. If you didn’t anticipate their misbehavior ahead of time and the infraction isn’t serious, not giving them a consequence that time may be okay. But let them know what will happen if it happens again.

Decide on consequences together with your teen.  They may be far more willing to accept consequences they have had a part in establishing. If they refuse to help, they lose the opportunity to have input and you can decide.

The consequence that is established should connect with the offense. 
Many parents try to find what will cause the most pain. This is actually a punishment, not a consequence. Punishment may stop the behavior, but if no learning takes place they will offend again. 

Learning is far more important than obedience. Even though taking away computer time may create pain in their life and temporarily cause them to not speed when using the family car, a far better consequence would be to take away the car keys for speeding or have them pay for the ticket or insurance increases.

When a consequence is set, enforce it.  If you keep moving the line you have established, you may be battling all the time. Do your best to be consistent.

Don't try to control what you can't -- control what you can.  To say, “You will not use drugs” or “You will not speed” or “You will not have sex” or “You will be in before curfew” are a waste of your time.  Let them know how you feel about their choices, but that it’s their choice. Then control what you can by saying, “If you choose to use, then I will take you down to detox or take you in for a drug test.”  Or, “You can choose to speed, however your choice to speed is your choice to not have access to the family car.” 

Don’t prevent natural consequences in life from happening.  If they sleep in, don’t cover for them when the school calls. If they break the law, call the police. The embarrassment you might feel when the police come to your house is of far less importance than allowing your teen to break the law and get away with it.