Behavior + Discipline | Ages 11–14 | Ages 15–18 | Compassion

Positive Discipline for Your Teen: The Benefits of Disciplining Positively

Positive discipline tips for teensAs parents, we want to raise respectful kids who can make their way in the world. Unfortunately, we are sometimes relying on older parenting models and are frustrated when they don’t work.

There are three basic discipline styles:

1. Authoritarian. There are rules and punishments. Children are not involved in decision making.

2. Permissive. Love and be happy. Children can choose their own rules later.

3. Authoritative (kind and firm). Rules are created together out of mutual benefit. Discipline is delivered with kindness, dignity and respect. The focus is always on helping children learn to do better.

In today’s world, children seem to do best with an authoritative approach, which helps make them strong in the significant seven perceptions and skills, as identified by H. Stephen Glenn and Dr. Jane Nelsen Ed.D., in their book Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World.

The Significant Seven:

Universal research reveals that children who become successful adults possess the following abilities:

1. Strong perceptions of personal capabilities—“I am capable.”
2. Strong perceptions of significance in primary relationships—“I contribute in meaningful ways and I am genuinely needed.”
3. Strong perceptions of influence over life—“I can influence what happens to me.”
4. Strong intrapersonal skills—Understanding personal emotions and using that to develop self-discipline.
5. Strong interpersonal skills—Working work with others and developing friendships through communication, cooperation, negotiation, sharing, listening, and empathy.
6. Strong systemic skills—Responding to the limits and consequences of everyday life with responsibility, adaptability, flexibility, and integrity.
7. Strong judgmental skills—Using wisdom to evaluate situations according to appropriate values.

Research further demonstrates that teens who possess the significant seven perceptions and skills are at low risk for problems like gang involvement, drug abuse, pregnancy, suicide, low achievement, and dropping out of school. 

The Role of Positive Parenting

Disciplining positively means maintaining dignity and respect for all, at all times. Children are taught to learn from mistakes and to find non-punitive solutions. Everyone in a family soon learns that it’s okay to be accountable for the choices they make. One who makes a mistake won’t be punished for poor choices, but will be helped by others to learn from them. With the positive approach, all parties feel heard, communication is respectful, encouragement abounds, and the significant seven skills grow.

Patti Skelton-McGougan, Youth Eastside ServicesIf you’re struggling with teen discipline, the most important thing to do is take action. Get support, seek wise counsel, and—if needed—get an unbiased, third party opinion. Youth Eastside Services offers parenting coaching a series of classes to help caregivers master the positive parenting approach. Visit YouthEastsideServices.orgfor more information—it’s never too late to start.

Patti Skelton-McGougan is Executive Director of Youth Eastside Services (YES). YES is a nonprofit organization and a leading provider of youth counseling and substance abuse services in the region. Since 1968, YES has been a lifeline for kids and families, offering treatment, education and prevention services to help youth become healthy, confident and self-reliant and families to be strong, supportive and loving. While YES accepts insurance, Medicaid and offers a sliding scale, no one is turned away for inability to pay. For more information, visit

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