Top 10 Discipline Techniques for Tweens

These discipline strategies teach tweens life lessons.
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Tweens (9 to 12-year-old kids), want to be like teenagers but they're not mature enough to handle the responsibilities of teen life. At this age, friends become more important than ever and kids really want to fit in.

Common behavior problems can include arguing, yelling, defiance, and lying. They're too old for many of the discipline strategies that worked when they were little kids, however.

Age-appropriate discipline will prevent your child from making serious mistakes, while also teaching her important life lessons.

1. Establish Clear Rules

Kids of all ages need household rules and the tween years can be a great time to update those rules. Clearly outline the type of behavior you expect in terms of chores, homework, a dress code, and extra privileges.

Also, discuss your expectations for your child when he's outside the home. Tweens usually want to start spending more time engaging in social activities and they need to know what you expect when they’re on the sports fields or at a friend's house.

2. Develop Behavior Contracts

Tweens want more privileges, like owning a smartphone or spending time with friends unsupervised. But, many tweens aren't ready to handle the responsibility that accompanies such privileges.

Create a behavior contract to allow your child to show you when he's able to be responsible to earn new privileges. Establish guidelines that your child will need to follow for a specified period of time before earning a specific privilege.

For example, your child may need to show she can complete her chores every day for two weeks without being asked to show she is responsible enough to start staying home alone for an hour. Or, she may need to show you she can stick to the rules on the tablet before you consider buying her a smartphone.

3. Use If…Then Warnings

Use if…then warnings that clearly outline the consequences of their behavior. This is a great way to begin teaching self-discipline, which will be essential during the teen years. Just make sure you're fully prepared to follow through with any consequences you threaten.

Avoid nagging or repeating yourself. Otherwise, you'll make your tween more dependent on you for reminders about what he's supposed to be doing.

4. Use Grandma’s Rule of Discipline

Turn warnings into incentives by using Grandma’s rule of discipline. Instead of saying, “You can’t go outside until your chores are done,” say, “You can go outside as soon as all your chores are done.” It’s a simple way to help your child be responsible for her behavior.

5. Provide Logical Consequences

Consequences for tweens need to make sense. If you take away a tween’s bicycle because he didn’t get out of bed on time, he might not make the connection and learn from his behavior. Provide a logical consequence that connects the punishment to the misbehavior. 

6. Allow for Natural Consequences

When it’s safe to do so, allow your tween to face the natural consequences of his behavior. For example, if he’s got basketball practice bright and early on Saturday morning but wants to stay up late on Friday night, consider allowing him to stay up late. If he’s exhausted when he has to wake up in the morning, he might think twice about staying up late next time.

Natural consequences should only be used when it's safe to do so. Don't let your child do anything that could cause him to get hurt. And only use natural consequences when you think they will teach your child a valuable life lesson. 

7. Take Away Privileges

Take away a tween’s privileges when necessary. Make it time sensitive—24 hours may be enough. Take away electronics, time with friends, or any other extra privilege that might make your tween think twice about breaking the rules again.

8. Create Reward Systems

A reward system or token economy system can reduce behavior problems fast. Link good behavior to incentives that your tween will want to earn and she'll become more responsible.

9. Ignore Mild Misbehavior

Sometimes, you’re better off ignoring mild misbehavior with tweens. Whether he’s whining, complaining or insisting your rules aren’t fair, turn away and pretend you don't hear him. If your tween isn’t able to engage you in an argument, or he sees that you aren’t interested in negotiating, he'll eventually give up.

10. Model Appropriate Behavior

Tweens will learn more from what you do rather than what you say. Therefore, it’s essential that you role model appropriate behavior at all times. Your tween will learn how to deal with a variety of life situations by seeing how you respond to anything from rude people to distressing events.

The way you interact with your tween will also provide a model for your tween. If you yell at your child, expect your child to yell back. Or if you swear when you’re angry, your child will likely swear too.

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