How to Discipline a Teenager Who Makes Bad Decisions

How to discipline a teenager who doesn’t care about consequences or makes bad decisions.

How do you parent a child who keeps making bad decisions? Let’s break it down by the three most popular parenting styles, authoritarian vs authoritative vs permissive.


Authoritarian Parenting


An authoritarian parent would most likely handle this behavior by continuing to make the decisions for the child. They tell the child what decisions to make, push the child to make those decisions, and punish the child if they don’t.

The problem: The child will start being very resentful, irritated, and moody about the fact that they don’t have a say.

If children feel they don’t have a say, eventually, the child will start defying the parent.


Permissive Parenting


The permissive parent will ignore the behavior, not say anything, make excuses, or step back and let the child fumble around.

The problem: A child who fumbles around is not a happy child. The child most likely has feelings about making bad decisions, just as the parent does. If the parent is letting the child sit with those feelings and not helping them figure out how to get back on track, the child will be resentful that the parent is too distant.


How to discipline a teenager for making bad decisions?


The sweet spot is between stepping in and pulling back.

How does this look for a child who makes bad decisions?

Inviting your child to the table is going to be a key component. Not taking over and not disappearing, but talking to the kid and having an open conversation about their behavior and decisions. If the child does not want to talk, you may have to word it differently. Such as ” Look, this decision you made is something that didn’t work for me.” If your child doesn’t think it’s a problem, just simply say, “It didn’t work for me, and here’s why…”


How to Come Up with a Solution


It’s important, to be honest about your feelings. This part is skipped by both the authoritarian and permissive parents. They do not say how the behavior impacts them, which is the key piece to showing up.

Be caring– Be interested in what is going on with the child. Ask all of the questions! Make sure to express that you are interested in the child’s viewpoint.


Most likely, you will not get the answers you want to hear, or that you think are reasonable, rationable, or normal, that is not the point. This is where a lot of parents get off track and start arguing about the child’s answers. Arguing about their answers just shows you don’t respect what they’re saying.

Be respectful– Be respectful of their differences, because they are different people. They’re not going to think like you, and that’s okay!

The key is to say- given your viewpoint, and my viewpoint, what are we going to do?


Open up communication, and figure out how to handle the situation together! This means, listen to their ideas, or suggest a few but do not demand, and come up with a plan together. The child is much more likely to stick to the plan if you create it together. By doing it this way, you’re much more likely to be respected. This is how you discipline a teenager who is making bad decisions!


If you have any questions about parenting, and you would like to discuss your own parenting plan, call, or text 757-340-8800.


For more on this topic:

1 Important Tip for How to Deal With a Disrespectful Child

For more helpful info go to www.drldabney.com. Or for online programs to help you in your relationships, go to relationship-rx.com


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1 Comment

  1. Ava

    Super helpful


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