My Favorite Discipline Mom Tip For Teens: Know Their Currency!

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Manic:  When your kids mess up and you have to dole out a punishment to teach them accountability and consequences while trying to stay calm and not be a manic mom!

Managed:  Hard to not fly off the hook, but instead try to stay calm and think through what the big consequence will be.  parenting picI once had a Mom share (who raised five kids and has appeared on my morning show’s Mom Squad) to find their currency!  I absolutely love that and read on to see what it means because trust me, this works!

My teen daughter recently broke one of our rules.  It truly wasn’t a huge offense, but it was still our rule that we had clearly voiced she must follow.  When she didn’t and her Daddy busted her, she came to me, apologized and then handed me her phone.  I carefully thought about my next words.  In my mind, I was so happy that she was acting calm and polite with a sincere apology to us.  Plus this wasn’t a big misbehavior, but she still broke our rule so I wondered just how harsh I should be.  And lastly, overall she has been a pretty good kid for us.  However, you do the crime, you must do the time.  Otherwise how will she learn accountability and she may not take our rules seriously the next time around if I simply let her off the hook.

So I chose my words carefully and began to answer her as I held her phone in my hand.  But then I remembered my favorite discipline mom rule….know their currency.  This simply means to pick a consequence that will get their attention. Take something away that they truly love and will miss while the punishment phase is in progress.  And choose a punishment that you can truly stick to, which isn’t always easy.  My girl does love her phone, but I need to be able to reach her now that she babysits, attends rehearsals and after school events.  So I decided that her phone wasn’t the right currency and that I couldn’t enforce this 100% when I would be giving it back to her time to time so that I can reach her when needed.

So, I looked her in the eye, thanked her for the apology and let her know that we were disappointed that she would break one of our rules that we were very clear on when we gave her this rule to follow.  Then I declined taking her phone, and boy did this surprise her and get her attention.  I instead took away her favorite privilege at this stage in her life….sleepovers!

No fun smores with pals with no sleepovers in session.

No fun smores with pals with no sleepovers in session.

She adores her sleepover time, both at our own home and at her friends’ homes.  And she darn near gets invited to sleep over just about every weekend! She has wonderful gal pals, which I am thankful for, so the sleepover ritual is pretty consistent at this point and time.

I could tell by her face that I doled out the consequence that she wasn’t expecting and the following weekend when she had to decline that cherished sleepover invitation, she was bummed.  I doubt that she will break that particular rule again.  I found her currency.

When it comes to our teen boy, we had to pick a big currency last year when he did some damage to his car due to unapproved off-roading.  Not only did he pay for every cent of the damage…which took every penny of his summer job earnings…but we decided to not take the car away.  Why?  Jack's first car!Because that would punish me since his wheels have made my life so much easier with my teen girl’s daily busy schedule that takes us all over town.

Instead, he was forced to ride the school bus while his car sat at home and he was not allowed to transport anyone other than his parents for the next six weeks.  Believe me, that was indeed his currency.  I am happy to report that his car is now very nicely maintained and he even keeps it squeaky clean.  Found his currency!

Kids don’t get that it isn’t fun for us to dole out consequences, but they do get the correlation between breaking the rules and paying the price.  Missing a sleepover or riding the bus is a much better lesson to learn now before they become adults and have stiffer consequences to pay when the currency is no longer safely decided by Mom and Dad.

I am happy to report (knock on wood) that at 13 and 17, this currency policy is working quite well.

Several smart currency ideas for teenagers include lowering a curfew (they hate that one), cancelling their weekend plans to instead to do labor around the house and the sleepover banishment, as I mentioned earlier.

The funny thing about teenagers is that they are like overgrown toddlers who still need limits.  Even though they don’t realize it, the limits set (within reason based on the age) do make them feel safe and help them to regain control.  After all, the teenage years are complicated with huge leaps and bounds that come faster and faster from enrolling in high school to driving a car to getting that first job.  Big years to learn and grow from with a little help, love and direction from Mom and Dad mixed with discipline when needed made up of their cool currency.

Happy teen parenting!  For the most part, I am having a blast with these years…for the most part!

My two teens...these are the years...and they are quite fun with the right currency at hand.

My two teens…these are the years…and they are quite fun with the right currency at hand.





  1. maryanne mildner says:

    thanks for blog on teen accountability utilizing the currency that they value without short changing other members of the family. Knowing what will give the results you want and they need when it comes to the rules of the household is valuable knowledge to all parents who must struggle (as well as enjoy) these special teen age years.

    Your blog concerning these matters was very enjoyable to read.