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Health & Parenting

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Curb Your Teen’s Bad Behavior with Discipline that Works

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Smarter, Stronger Discipline Strategies continued...

Be firm -- and consistent. Teens are master negotiators and manipulators. They're adept at spotting any sign of parental weakness. When you waffle and give in to their pleas for leniency, they are going to expect the same response every time they misbehave or break a rule.

Being consistent about teen discipline also means that both parents need to be on the same page. If one parent always says "yes" and the other always says "no," your teen is going to know exactly which parent to ask.

While you're being firm, don't forget to also be fair and understanding. A little empathy goes a long way when disciplining teens.

Know which rules are important to you. You want to be consistent, but not harsh. It's OK to give in about the small stuff once in a while, provided that it isn't something dangerous. For example, purple hair might not appeal to you, but it probably won't hurt your teen. Drug and alcohol use, on the other hand, are non-negotiable.

Be a good role model. If the rule is "No swearing in the house" and you curse like a sailor, you're giving your teen a free pass to do the same. The best way to encourage positive teen behaviors is to model them yourself.

Teach responsibility. An important part of parenting teenagers is to teach them how to make decisions. Kids need to learn that whatever choices they make -- good or bad -- have consequences. Sit down and talk about some of the dangerous and long-term consequences that risky behaviors can have, including drug abuse, pregnancy, smoking, and drunk driving.

Know that no matter how well you prepare your kids, they're going to make some mistakes. The important thing is to show them how to learn from those mistakes.

Stay involved. One of the best ways to prevent teen bad behavior is to know what your kids are up to. You don't need to spy on your teens or listen in on their phone conversations -- you just need to be an involved and interested parent. Ask what your kids are doing when they go out with friends. Know who they hang out with and where they go.

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