Defining Discipline

Discipline is defined as a system of rules that apply to behavior. This is very different from what most people believe or think when they hear the word “discipline.” Many parents would think of punishment, physical or not. This is where many parents get into problems with discipline. The goal of discipline is to teach your son how to behave properly in society.

Discipline as He Gets Older

When your son was a young boy, discipline meant you taught him some basics of behavior. You taught him to be safe. You taught him to stay alive. These laid the foundation for what he needed to know. He learned to look both ways before crossing the street because if he didn't there was a consequence, either from traffic or his parents. He learned that if he crossed a stated barrier, he would pay the stated price.


Avoid changing your mind after the fact. Going easy on your son or changing the rules midstream will only allow him to believe he rules the roost. This shows him he can wheedle his way out of things by asking nicely or begging.

As your son matures, the focus of discipline shifts. It's no longer about these basics; hopefully they have already been mastered. It is about learning to grow and mature on his own in a structured environment. Your job as his parent is to devise that structured environment and select consequences that reinforce the objective or lesson.

Changing Your Attitude

It's no surprise that your son is growing up. He is changing not only physically, but emotionally as well. This can be hard for many parents to accept. One of the most common mistakes parents of teenagers make is to continue to treat their teen the way they treated him as a young boy. The concept of discipline is one of the things that must change with adolescence.


You must give your son responsibility. You simply can't wait until he turns eighteen and shove him into a cold, cruel world. Your job is to slowly groom your son to be ready. Give him the factual information and the thinking skills he needs.

Now that your son is older, you need to adapt your parenting skills to fit him personally. It means that as a parent you may need to learn to do things differently. For example, you may have an opinion on a decision your son makes. Guess what? It's time you learned to wait for him to ask your opinion rather than freely giving it.

This allows your son to look at a problem and define it. Then it becomes his job to try to find a solution. These are the problem-solving skills that will help him make his life easier as he continues to mature. You need to shift from primary caretaker to lifeguard, only stepping in when his life is in danger, literally or figuratively.

This shift will likely change many of the ways you parent. It may mean you incorporate his ideas into how his life is structured on a daily basis. You may let him have more freedom with every year or milestone, and the disciplinary methods you use will likely change as well.

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