Teens That Are Not Phased By Consequences {raising teens}

4:29:00 PM



All the kids have always had the same set of rules, the same restrictions, and the same freedoms. What they do with that is then on them. If they take it and run with what they are given then great. If they take it and disregard all of it then that is on them and that is where the consequences come in and the restrictions of freedom starts. 

I have spent the past, oh I guess couple of days, trying to find some kind of way to determine appropriate consequences, or way to talk to one of the older kids. I just can not seem to find anything to give me some kind of answers. I am kind of, I guess going to have to figure it out as we go along. So feel free to follow along with this journey! 

I have one, he is 14, and nothing seems to phase him....nothing. This is how he has always been so it's not some kind of new thing or phase. I have been told to give him punishments and stick to them, I have done that. I have been told to give him punishments he understands and make sure that he acknowledges them and really understands them, I have done that. When he was a few years younger I was advised to have him write whatever he did over and over, like Bart Simpson, and I have done that. I have been told to reward him for good behavior and touch on the issues but not make that the most important thing, the good is the most rewarded and given the most attention, I have done that. I have been told to take everything away from him until he earns it back, that works for a few days until he starts getting things back and then he will do something that starts us over from square one.


When he was halfway through 4th grade I had him tested for ADHD and he was given an IEP for school. The elementary school he was in was not able to accommodate the IEP so I found a school that would for 5th grade. That worked great for his grades and academics. He was taken off his IEP in 6th grade and has not needed it since, but it has always been an option just in case. But still, nothing has worked for his reaction to punishments. His lack of attachment I guess is what it is, just makes consequences so difficult for us, his parents. 

Certainly, every family is unique. Your situation may look different on the surface, but I bet lots of parents can agree on the same underlying cycle: My kid acts out. I give him a consequence. Nothing changes. I give him another consequence. Nothing changes. Now he’s even more resistant, and we’re even more annoyed. He gets another consequence. Nothing changes.

Attitidue Mag says sometimes consequences that were once effective stop being effective after they’ve been used for a while. As with many other things involving ADHD, repetition leads to boredom. Devise a variety of consequences and vary them from time to time. 

WebMD says the following: Put it in writing. So that there are no misunderstands, create a formal list of house rules, or type up a behavior contract that you and your teen sign. Put the list of contract where it is visible and can not be missed.  Examples of rules include "curfew at 8pm on weekdays, 10pm on weekends. No going out until homework is done, and anyone breaking those rules loses television for a day. " If your children break a rule then all you do it point to the list. 

Aha Parenting says to keep to your words, set rules and talk respectfully. They also say to stop punishing, that the key to getting kids to cooperate is respecting that they need to be in charge of their life. 

They all tell you the same things but then go and tell you to do the opposite. Like be clear and consistent but then be flexible. It ends up all being the same stuff, written over and said in different ways. So what are the parents with kids with discipline issues supposed to do? Well I think I am going to start from the beginning. I need to reset the tension between him and I and between his father and him. I can only do so much so my son has to be able and willing to go along with trying to figure this out. He only has a few more years with us and I need to know he is capable of making his own decisions, good decisions more than bad, once it is time for him to go out on his own. Tonight he is going to make a list of everything he gets in trouble from, even the little stuff. Not putting clothes away, not doing homework, bad grades, back talk, ignoring calls, fighting, and whatever else he can think of. It is going to be a pretty long list. From that he is going to write down what he thinks a fair consequence would be. Then he is going to write what he needs to do to get back on track and get whatever privileges taken away back. A basic example is not doing homework. The rule is normally that homework can be done after dinner so there is break between school and homework. So a good consequence is doing homework as soon as he gets home for x amount of days. A way to regain his break would be to do homework on his own right after school for x amount of days. 

After tonight I will follow up and let everyone knows how things are coming along. Wish us luck! 

I know there has to be someone out there in the same situation. Is there anything you have tried that worked? And still working? I am looking for a long term resolution. 

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34 comments

  1. As a non-parent, I love how open and honest you are when it comes to what you struggle with and how you are working to fix it. I admire you SO much for this and hope that someone reading has a long term solution you can implement. I wish I had advice or a solution, but I'm sending you good vibes from Hawaii :)

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    1. Thanks! I think it takes alot to openly admit that you have a kid with something going on. Alot of advice is geared towards normal teens with normal acting out but when it's more than that, and more the way a child might be, there isn't as much available.

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    2. Yes, it does take a lot of courage to admit that there is a problem. I love how proactive you are with your child.

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  2. I'm a retired elementary principal. I've tried this approach successfully with a few students: ask what it would take to get him to do his homework every night. Would it be you sitting with him doing your work? Some together but separate time? Putting clothes away.. Why is that important to you? Can you live with the clothes in the laundry basket? If so get two baskets one for clean and one for dirty. I'm ADHD too and have good intentions but poor follow through. In what way can you leave reminders that aren't nagging? Post its? Texts? Be clever and loving but getting your point across. Parenting is hard!

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  3. This is something I worry about with my youngest son. He is only 8, but thinks that rules don't apply to him. I can't imagine what it will be like when he's older.

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  4. So many opinions about consequences or not. You did a great job sharing what a lot of the "experts" online believe. I like the putting it in writing... that does make it clear.
    Karen | GlamKaren.com

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  5. Although my daughter is now in her thirties, I started her out in a Montessori school at age 2 and a half and I found that the way they teach tasks and responsibility from a young age was very impactful to her as she grew older. I have friends who are Waldorf teachers and their principals came to mind when I was reading this. It seem that it is more challenging for children to come into their own these days, with so many diagnosis and distractions and I applaud you for looking for input and suggestions. The first thing that came to me was to see if you can connect with some Montessori or Waldorf trained teachers to see if they have any ideas to help you and your son and family. With your love and compassion, I really believe there is a way through it.

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  6. There are so many theories about using dicipline and consequences, but at the end, every circumstances are different and parents respond accordingly. I hope some parents who deal the same difficulty will share with you the solution.

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  7. I can't even imagine raising children at this point in time. May be even crazier in the next 5 years with so much technology on the horizon and distractions everywhere.

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  8. Why some kids care and some don't will always be a problem for parents--I have no children so i can't really say what is right or wrong--all I will say is every child and parent is different and somehow between the two of you you have to figure it all out--not easy--but sometimes reading too many different opinions can get you in more trouble!

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  9. I think using natural consequences is one of the best ways to discipline. It makes more sense to them.

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  10. This is a very good post. I was a Social Worker for over 26 years, and have seen this situation in many families.

    One thing I do know is that you cannot come across as nagging all the time to the child as they will turn off and say to hell with it all.

    Pick the battles you wish to win, and let the others go for now. i.e. the "Clothes away" situation. It that really a problem, really? That is his room, if he wants a pile of clean over there and pile of dirty of there, so be it. In the scheme of things, does it matter if his room is untidy? No. He has to live with it, you can close the door on it.

    I like the idea that he makes a list of the things he apparently does wrong, maybe you go through that list and see if anything can be left out for now and he works on the really important issues i.e., homework - everyone needs a good education, fighting, etc.

    With homework, I found with own children, and their friends, that doing it after a dinner was too much, it made the day seem long, they really do need to relax at that time. So I asked my children "When is a good time for YOU. Both of my children wanted to get straight into it directly after school, and they had a couple of friends come and join them, so they all sat around my dining room table and worked on their homework. Guess what? No stress, it was done, and their marks for this work improved and their attitude was better later in the evening.

    I wish you luck, NO ONE has the answers, NO EXPERTS, why? because each of our precious children are individuals, and we must work with them with their individuality.

    Blessings to you and your family.

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  11. It's so important to establish clear boundaries with adolescents. I have been a middle school teacher for over 15 years and understand how important this is.

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  12. I don't have a teen yet oh but how I know the struggle will be very real my sister is experiencing it now wow feel for you

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  13. Have you read The Explosive Child by Ross Greene? It's not just for explosive children (my kids are actually not explosive at all). I just love the technique used in this book and I think it might work for you too. The premise of the book is that kids do well when they can. So, if a kid is uncooperative it means that there is something that stopping him from cooperating and your job is to figure out what it is and give him the tools necessary to succeed. It says that disciplining, punishing and giving consequences to kids in this situation doesn't help anyone and doesn't work. Good luck! Parenting is not easy!

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  14. Great read for a parent like me. Thanks for this one.

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  15. I really hope it works out in the end and you guys can figure out what the root of the problem is. It must be hard but I hope you get some answers soon.

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  16. Parenting is not easy and it takes tremendous amounts of patience. I work with situations daily that are very similar to yours.

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  17. Most things don't phase my child but he does come around eventually. I'm curious to see how this goes for you. I've never had my son pick his consequence.

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  18. Ugh. Sometimes we as parents are at a loss. I try to lead by example, and then let natural consequences (that obviously aren't dangerous) take their course. What I know has not worked for me is the punishing, removing things. After a while, they already have lost so much what's one more thing?

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  19. I have two boys but they haven't reached their teens ... yet. I'm a firm believer that you start when they're young and then let them go hoping that what you've done is enough that they won't get into trouble in the first place. So far, neither of my boys have let me down... touch wood.

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  20. Parenting is really hard! The things that might work for one kid might not do anything for the other. I try no to use punishments, but sometimes it's the only way to get things back to order. Really like the idea of your son choosing the consequence to his not accepted behaviour.

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  21. I have teens, and I've found that even though they seem to be un-phased by consequences, it really does affect them. It takes my son longer to get it than my daughter, but I am fine with waiting the consequence out until he really does get it.

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  22. Hi Bernadette. I really like the last idea you mention. Bringing him into the decision making on what the consequences of his actions should be is a great idea. Hopefully it enlightens him and he starts making more positive choices. Best of luck!

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  23. I feel like I have a puppy that doesnt care about consequences...I know quite a few people who were like this growing up, and it was hard to understand where they were coming from with not being afraid of consequences.

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  24. Oy, i don't have any children but i can only imagine the grief i gave my parents when i was a teen. i wish you the best of luck and know you're doing everything you can.

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  25. I like how open you are about what you're facing with your son. It's hard, for sure, and it's hard because as parents, we really only want what's best for our kids. Would focusing on a single thing for improvement help him? My son is younger, but I find that it helps if we work with him on one thing at a time. He shuts down when he feels like we're asking too much of him, or he's getting too much to process all at once.

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  26. I was raised by very strict parents where every thing is done according to schedule. I kinda resented that when I was a kid and promised myself that I would be the opposite when I became a parent. I gave my kids assigned chores to gain "age appropriate" freedom. All I asked in exchange was honesty. It worked! They are now all grown up and responsible adults.

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  27. This was so refreshing to see that I am not alone in the struggles of parenting. It really is a journey and every child is different. I really appreciate the raw and honest approach in this post

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  28. Great post and alot of insight here because my little brother is a teen not phased by consequences. I love how honest and open you are!

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  29. It sounds like he needs a reason to care. I'm sorry you're facing that struggle. Tween stuff is enough for me right now!

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  30. As a Mom of 4, I wish someone had given me the manual before I had my kids...now I know there is none! Consistency with my kids helped, they knew there would be a punishment for actions that needed them. Not always easy, but I applaud you for speaking out about an issue in all households. You are a loving Mom, your son is blessed

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  31. Great post! I have a few years till my daughter is a teen. Luckily so far she is really well behaved and hates getting into trouble. I hope that continues and she's pretty easy as a teen.

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  32. My kids are so much younger than teens. I definitely need some insight in this area! Thanks for sharing!

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