how long should a punishment last

by jovita
(los Angeles, ca)

I have a 16 year old son, he recently has been ditching school. I really shouldn't say ditching- because he just does not to wake up for school & misses 1st and 2nd period almost everyday. He recently has been put on contract with the school and has showed great improvement. It has only been 10 days of punishment & today he almost took his xbox away from my hiding place to start playing. I want to reward him for going to school everyday but I don't want to back down also. I don't know what to do. He is not acting like his lovable self - and gives me evil piercing eyes. I hate seeing my son like this, can you help.

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How long to punish
by: Sara Says...

Hi Jovita!

Thanks so much for your great question! This is a tough one. I went through this with my son. One of his counselors advised to take away all of my son's stuff when he missed assignments. This meant I had the stuff more than my son did. I decided this approach was not only no way to live...but also didn't create much opportunity for success.

Teen boys often have a tough time of it, and for whatever reason, society says you have to be tough on them. I think you have to be consistent, but the reality is, your big boy is really still your little boy on the inside. He is still looking for love, praise, and success. Your son has pulled it in and made some good progress, and I think your instincts are right on here. He needs some reward. Maybe not the entire prize, but he needs to begin to feel that he his earning his privileges back, and making some progress.

I would consider a tiered approach and allow him to earn a little back at a time. By getting a taste of the good life...the life that one receives when they accept and fulfill their responsibilities, your son will feel some motivation to keep succeeding, instead of feeling the situation is completely hopeless. Should he slip up and slide back, be sure to be consistent with the consequences. Keep a close eye on the gaming time. My son's behavior would change if he spent too much time (for him) playing the games. He had to learn to recognize that and he had to learn to police himself. Your son may need to do the same.

Congrats to both of you! I know it hasn't been an easy path. God bless and keep up the good work!

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