To punish or not to punish? And appropriate sanction

(10 Posts)
Facefacts Wed 04-Jun-14 10:29:48

My just turned 16dd is proving a challenge at the moment. She keeps doing things that I feel need some consequence. After we found she was lying about where she is and smoking she was very apologetic, said she know she had been an idiot and would stop smoking. Because she was apologetic and more mature in her response than previously and doing gcse's at the moment (usually in these circumstances she will fly off the handle and cause a massive row), we were light on her and said we wouldn't give her her weekly allowance but would give her bus fare if she was going to meet friends in town.

Since then we asked her to stay in on one specific night because her dad was going away with work the following day and we didn't want any disruption. She turned down going for a meal with friends (not surprising as she didn't have any money) but then got invited to a mini party at someone's house and didn't see the problem with going and she was being considerate to us by staying over so she wouldn't disturb us. We said no as we'd specifically asked her to stay in for the evening (previous evening she'd been to another party and I'd ended up giving lifts to her and a friend at 1.30 am so she' s hardly socially deprived). In the end she just took off and went to the party anyhow and stayed over, we didn't know where. Most crucially it felt as if she didn't care about us as she has also done some other really uncaring things over the last couple of years and had been a nightmare at times.

Would appreciate some advice on how to deal with this that will be effective not just punish. She has had some difficult stuff to deal with in the past that I think has had an impact but she was a stubborn, wilful teen even before that. I feel she does need to still see her friends for some support even though their behaviour leaves something to be desired too. Dad is still really cross with her and wondering why he should keep trying when we keep getting treated like this. I'm getting that way too but conscious that she is vulnerable she is in danger of very low mood if we get too heavy.

Any comments much appreciated.

ComeHeather Wed 04-Jun-14 10:39:26

To be honest, I'd let it go. As you say she's improving over time, she's got exams at the moment, she's had some tough times in the past, and she's vulnerable to low mood.

I think teens are generally quite vulnerable despite all the bluster and hot air! They are deal arête not to miss out and not going to a party is torturous for them....what might they miss? Being left out is so dreadful for them.

I've got a tricky teen and I feel your pain, but it does get better, albeit in very small steps and with lots of 'two steps forward and one step back'.

Lots of love and affection and understanding and not too much on the nagging and punishing, would be my advice.

I fully expect to be flamed for my liberal, being-too-soft views!

ComeHeather Wed 04-Jun-14 10:42:51

Deal arête?? No idea what that was! Should be "desperate".

BTW you sound like you are already doing a great job....you are having good communication with her, she's apologising for other stuff eg the smoking, and she's tried to be considerate by staying out all night instead of asking you for a late lift (you've got to laugh really...that's a teen version of being helpful! Haha).

heyday Wed 04-Jun-14 22:18:12

It's a difficult one. Whilst I agree with comeheather to a certain extent I do feel that there needs to be some consequences. She took off and spent the whole night out and her parents had no idea where she was. I think as a parent that is one of the worst 'tortures' our kids can put us through. I would suggest a 4 day grounding. Regarding the smoking, she is old enough now to legally smoke and buy cigarettes so not sure you can really have a go about that although you could just tell her how you feel about smoking. She does love you both but teenagers are unbelievably selfish and their whole world revolves around them and their needs. She will grow out of this uncaring attitude but you may well have a ten year wait for it.

DieselSpillages Thu 05-Jun-14 05:51:07

I have similar stuff going on with ds2 who's !5. I don't think punishments are very effective. The only thing I have left in my arsenal which would work is cutting off his phone contract.. but then I couldn't reach him confused

I think open dialogue and a huge heap of understanding, detachment and letting go is necessary at this age. At the same time they do need limmits and boundaries so they can break them

Hairylegs47 Thu 05-Jun-14 06:07:59

OP, You give her the inch, she'll come back for the next 5 miles! She thinks she's the 'boss' and can do exactly as she wants. If you've set out rules, and she's broken them - no matter she's doing exams - you need to follow through with the consequence.
Diesel, take the phone off him! He doesn't care if YOU can't reach him, but he does if his mates can't.
Listen, raising teenagers isn't about open dialogue - they don't care, they just want their own way, like a toddler! Don't negotiate, because that IS what you're doing.
It's YOUR house, they are freeloading as long as they can hoping to be as free as they can.

DieselSpillages Thu 05-Jun-14 06:17:52

The thing is Hairylegs Teens are great at drama and conflict. If you come down hard things quickly escalate and all meaningful dialogue is lost. If you ground them and they leave anyway what can you do ? Throw them out ?

dexter73 Thu 05-Jun-14 12:58:41

Regarding the smoking, she is old enough now to legally smoke and buy cigarettes so not sure you can really have a go about that

She is NOT legally old enough to buy cigarettes. You have to be 18.

Claybury Thu 05-Jun-14 15:17:53

Diesel is right IMO. Punishing teens is pretty hard. You can ground them but only if they buy into your system of rules - because you can't force them to stay in if they don't. It's the same with curfews. They only work if the teen is on board with the idea.
I cancelled my DS phone contact once as a last resort ( when he disappeared) but bottled within a few minutes when I realised my main aim in life was to keep him safe and not having a phone was counter to that. They need to be able to call you.
Hairy legs - open dialogue should surely be a goal.

chocoluvva Fri 06-Jun-14 09:39:07

I'm with ComeHeather, Claybury and Diesel on this.

I expect your DD will be well aware that you are disappointed and annoyed with her. Either she won't understand why - in which case attempts at punishment won't work - as others have said it will just result in an unproductive drama. Or she does feel bad now about being very inconsiderate and will hopefully now have learnt for herself that inconsiderate behaviour results in loss of goodwill/approval from the people she has let down and isn't worth it. Next time she will hopefully make a better choice.

If you avoid the drama of imposing a sanction on her and empathise with her need to be with her friends/whatever other 'teenage' thing it is, she'll be more likely to tell you why she's desperate to go to the next party/late night/whatever and listen to your point of view about the likely consequences - whatever they might be.

I really sympathise with you.

IME they start to be more reasonable/considerate around the age of 17 - so hopefully not too much longer before she starts being easier to live with.

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