Tweens and Discipline

When my boys were little, especially in the days when no one could yet tie their own shoes, wipe their own bottoms, etc.  I would cringe when one of them (they were about 6, 3 and 2) would say ” I can do it by myself, mama”. 

Wanting to do something on their own meant it was going to take me three times as long to get out the door.  Not to mention after they frustrated themselves with their attempt to tie their shoes, I would have to go put them on the correct feet and tie them myself.

Now, allowing them the “I can do this by myself” mentality is actually imperative for their development.  This is the time of their life when they need to go ahead and make some decisions and experience the natural consequences while mama and daddy are still here to walk them through it.

Problem is….it hasn’t become any easier for me to watch them struggle and attempt something on their own when I know I could do it for them with a “less messy” outcome.  Am I making any sense?

Our small group is going through a study right now called Running the Rapids by Dr. Kevin Leman.
  It is a six week study about parenting adolescents (and Mike and I are learning so much).

One of the things we discussed in last week’s study was the importance of letting your tween/teen feel natural consequences of their actions AND how this can be accomplished through deferring discipline.

Deferring discipline is an about face from the way we parent our younger kids.  When a five year old sasses his mama he immediately gets a time out.  When a thirteen year old sasses his mama, his mama might ignore it until a few hours later when said thirteen year old wants to go play video games at a friend’s house. Then, she can remind said thirteen year old (nicely and not sarcastically) that because of his earlier disrespect he won’t be going anywhere that evening.

I was skeptical of this approach (partially because my flesh wants to deal with the “mouth” right away) but we have been giving it a try this week and the results are amazing.  Your child can’t argue with the fact that they crossed a line and it throws them off that you remembered that and applied it to the next logical situation.

Parenting teens/tweens requires a different kind of mental effort and forethought than when our kids were smaller.  How do you think parenting adolescents is different from parenting elementary age children or younger kids?
And as always, please link up any post about parenting tweens/teens in the MckLinky below.


  1. I'm in this new phase of parenting…it's been very difficult to transition from authoritarian to coach. Praise the Lord I have the gift of discipleship, which is very useful at this age. But like you, I struggle with letting the natural consequences fall. I am a fan of Kevin Leman, and I've also been reading the “Parenting with Love & Logic” books (mainly one for teens), which have some good insights as well. Something that stood out to me the other day was the reason behind not rescuing them from their consequences. We'd rather let them learn to fail while their still at home than when their out on their own…helping build the parent/child relationship for later. Made sense. Of course, if the Holy Spirit is leading me to reprimand immediately or put a stop to something, I trust Him, so it's a balance. GREAT post!

  2. I think I like this idea for my almost 9 year old. I think it may help us with those sassy moments! Thank you. Looking up study so I can get a book!

  3. This is a subject I am really interested in…I wish I had something to offer. But I feel I have much to learn first! Remembering, and following through that sounds challenging but worth it!

  4. sugarjones says:

    Letting the kids feel the natural consequences is something that I had a tough time with. I still do, but I release the anxiety much easier now with kids #3 and #4. The first two had it rough. I would tell them every possible outcome of any (in my opinion) bad decision and I would try to describe how awful they would feel. But nothing taught them better than messing up and feeling it themselves. I had to bite my tongue to keep from the I-told-you-soes. Sometimes I even had to divert my eyes because I didn't want them to see mine rolling.

    When will they ever learn? When they do it themselves.

    Great post, lady!

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