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Positive Ways To Discipline Your Tweens

father ans tween son a couch arguing

When your child enters those pre-teen years it can often feel like a huge change developmentally, but also in terms of their behavior.

You may find that some of the strategies that worked previously with your small children might not work when it comes to disciplining tweens. You’ve no doubt come here looking for some positive guidance on how to approach things now your child is maturing.

The behaviors that require attention and discipline are likely to have made a shift as well, as your tween starts to look at pushing boundaries and challenging things in their own lives.

Parenting adolescents is not easy, as we’re sure you’re quickly becoming aware. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult. After all, a few positive changes to how you react can help you and your tween to thrive. So here are some of the positive ways to discipline tweens.

Typical changes you’ll see in your tween

There will be some obvious and some minor changes to your tween’s behavior.

You might start to notice back-talk or a change of attitude. Perhaps they are challenging you in some way, such as with routine, boundaries you have set in place, or the things they can do.

Here we’ll point out some of the typical changes that you have started to notice with your tween.

Emotional and behavioral changes

It is obvious, as much as we might fight against it, that your child is going to change as they approach their adolescent years. Emotionally, you may find that they find it hard to control big feelings.

Perhaps getting angry over what seems to be small things such as a bad test grade, an argument with a friend, or even a small request like cleaning their bedroom may set them off. You might get yelling, sulking, shouting, and even slamming doors.

tween girl in a hat looking away from camera
Mood swings and testing boundaries are all part of normal tween behavior

In other instances, you may start to notice attitude, such as reminding them to pick their laundry up off the floor and getting a response of “I know”. It is very common for tweens to be argumentative and challenge you like never before.

Behavior-wise, they may start to curse more, act older than they are, in a bid to fit in or to be part of the gang.

Pushing boundaries

They will also push boundaries emotionally and physically. For example, a curfew and turning up later, or not responding to messages or phone calls. This is all in a bid to see how far they can go.

They will also try and push you on punishment and defy you in any way that they can. This is why it is important to find positive techniques that help you to respond.

5 techniques to respond to tween behavior in a positive way

Knowing what to expect is one thing, but it is all about your key response. You will want to react to the tween behavior in a positive way. So here are some discipline strategies that you could try.

Take away privileges

One of the first things that you can do is to take away privileges if you disagree with the pre-teen behavior you have witnessed. When they misbehave take away something meaningful to them. Electronics they use, an outing with a friend, etc.

Taking something like that away shows consequence to actions, and that it is indeed a privilege to be allow them in the first place.

A daughter handing over her cellphone to her mother with a disappointed face
Removing items which should be considered a privilege is one way to tackle tween mis-behavior

Have a behavior contract

A behavior contract is a great way to be on the same page as your tween. It outlines what behavior you expect from your child to keep certain privileges or be able to do specific things.

They need to show responsibility, listening techniques, and take care of themselves and their things such as tidying their bedroom.

Doing these things enables them to keep their electronics or have other privileges they may already take for granted.


A positive way to reaffirm behavior is to reward it when something has happened in a positive way. If they have maintained a tidy room, reward them for that. If they have shown responsibility or have reacted to a situation calmly and positively, reward them for that.

The more reward they get, the more likely they will continue with good behavior.

Embrace problem-solving

Sometimes behavioral problems need to be looked at more closely. Often, it is an issue or stumbling block that is causing the attitude, back-talk, or anger. So spend time encouraging problem-solving. Enabling your tween to see what has gone wrong and where and how they can fix it. Be on hand to provide help if needed.

Let them learn their own lesson

Last of all, it is often a good idea to let them learn their own lesson. Within reason, of course.

If they can see the consequences firsthand of their actions then they are more likely to learn from it. We sometimes have to step back and let mistakes happen, no matter how hard that is.

Some Things for You, The Parent, to be Mindful of

While it is always good to be aware of some of the techniques that could help you to respond to your tween’s behavior in a positive way, you might also want to be mindful of a few things that you might do yourself.

Here are some of the things to look out for:

  • Parent the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. If we are honest we all have an idea of what our children might turn out to be, but so often this isn’t the case. So let go of any preconceived ideas and focus on the here and now.
  • Avoid labeling your child. It is easy to label a child naughty, or having an attitude problem, but even as a tween there could be legitimate reasons for this behavior. Try and look at the why rather than the what.
A mother empathizing with her pre teen daughter

Ways to improve communication with your tween

Sometimes it isn’t just about the punishment, you might also want to look at ways to improve communication with your tween. After all, there may be an underlying issue at the heart of your tween behavior. Here are a couple of things that you might want to try.

Lead by example

It can sometimes be so easy to react when your tween is yelling at you or slamming doors, but reacting, in the same way, will not serve you well. Lead by example and continue to discuss the situation in a calm and positive way.


Sometimes the pre-teen behavior you are witnessing has stemmed from something else. Perhaps a citation they face at school or a friendship that has gone wrong. Always be on hand to listen, and avoid reacting in a demeaning way.

Resist the temptation of threats

Of course, there always needs to be some form of consequence to bad behavior but threats never end well, unless you intend to follow through with them. Your tween should be aware of what the consequences are as it helps everyone to be on the same page.

Hopefully, these tips and suggestions will help you to implement positive ways to discipline your tweens.

Pop over here if you’d like more articles and advice for parenting during the tween years

Tween Parent | Family Lifestyle Blog

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