Dec 07 / Simcha

Getting Teens to Keep Agreements

Giving up control, threats, punishment and “logical consequences” (a disguise for punishment) as methods to discipline your teen is NOT about settling for broken agreements and unkept promises.  Rather, it opens the door for alternatives that can actually teach your teens to accept responsibility and achieve cooperation.


Effective problem-solving and follow-through look something like this:

  • Have a friendly discussion with your teen to gather information about what is happening regarding the problem at hand.  (Listen!)
  • Brainstorm solutions with your teen, and choose one that both you and your teen can agree to.
  • Agree on a date and time deadline.
  • At the deadline, simply follow through on the agreement by holding your teen accountable with dignity and respect.

At follow-through time, it is imperative to be both respectful and firm.

  • Keep comments simple, concise and friendly. (“I notice you didn’t do your task.  would you please do that now?”)
  • In response to objections, ask, “What was our agreement?”
  • In response to further objections, shut your mouth and use non-verbal, non-aggressive communication (pointing to watch, smiles, hugs). 
  • Less is more!  Say as little as possible; the more you say, the more ammunition you are offering for your child for arguments (which they seem to have great ability to win!).
  • When your teen concedes (even if with great annoyance), say pleasantly, 
“Thank you for keeping our agreement.”

Following through on agreements demands energy and steel will, but if done lovingly and persistently, is considerably more effective than scolding, lecturing and punishing. And, in time, you will earn the gift of a much improved relationship with your child.

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Adapted from:  Positive Discipline for Teenagers (Nelsen & Lott)