Updated: Sep 19
DRRED Is What Makes Consequences Effective For Teenagers’ Behaviour.
Successful parenting of teens requires that parents adopt transformational parenting style where we hold teenagers accountable for their negative behaviour. It is in holding them accountable that they learn to act in more positive and desirable ways.
In order to hold them accountable, consequences are required and these consequences need to be effective if there is going to be a shift in behaviour.
This post shows the DRRED
system that answers the what, when and why consequences are effective and likely to alter teenagers’ negative behaviour.
Implementing effective consequences can lead to teenagers having more positive behaviour and hence more productive lives now, as well as in their adulthood.
As transformational parents and as an advancing society, we must hold our teenagers accountable for their actions, thus effective consequences that inspire and instigate positive change of behaviour must be in place.
I am sure you have heard these phrases before;
“let them face the consequences”
“give them consequences”
This is popular advice is often given loosely and mostly without much explanations. Unfortunately, it leaves many parents of teenagers with popular information but, not the know-how of exactly what effective consequences are and how or when to implement them in order to facilitate change.
You and I know that raising teenagers is parenting at a whole new league, not parenting as usual. Effective strategies for raising remarkable teenagers are unlikely to be found in programs that claim to work for “ages 2 till 18”
How could that even be possible?
You and I know very well that what worked for your kid at 2 will not, absolutely not work for your teenager at 13 or 14, 15 16...
Therefore, we need to truly explore effective consequences that will truly hold our teenagers accountable for their actions, whilst ensuring that they are learning, shifting their thinking and acquiring long-term positive behaviour.
By applying the DRRED system in the choosing and implementation of consequences for teenagers’ negative behaviour, we can be sure that positive change is imminent.
What is DRRED
DRRED is a check system that ensures that consequences are effective.
Directly linked – consequences should be linked directly to the action.
Realistic - consequences ought to be realistic and achievable.
Respectful – consequences should protect and promote the dignity of the young person and never diminish their self-worth.
Empowering – consequences should inspire and motivate the young person to alter their behaviour and enhance advancement.
Deliverable – terms of the consequences should be known and agreeable to both parties with deliverable time limits.
The DRRED system for effective consequences explains the type of consequences (what)that are effective for teenagers’ negative behaviour, (when) these consequences effective, and (why) they are effective.
Remember, if you are a parent of teens and you struggle to come up with effective consequences for your teenager's disruptive behaviour, you are not alone.
Many of us parenting teenagers are in the same boat or have been in the same boat and, the feeling that nothing is working has definitely been shared by most parents of teens.
Maybe you’ve taken their video games away but no joy, they continue to fight you.
You ground them, they fight you or outright breakaway, even run away.
You revoke their driving privileges; they escape in their friend’s car.
It can be a real struggle identifying what works.
Implementing effective consequences for teenagers' negative behaviour.
Let’s look at what consequences really work, when and why.
The truth is, you can't punish teens into acceptable behaviour. That is one fact as psychologists we continue to find no matter what approach we take. Be it social learning psychology, developmental psychology or cognitive psychology.
Effective consequences for behaviour modification ought to be directly linked, practical and encourage learning, whether the behaviour you want shifting is that of treating people respectfully or contributing positively towards family advancement and harmony.
Overall, there are two types of consequences that can be implemented for addressing your teenager’s behaviour for the purposes of learning and changing behaviour.
1. Natural Consequences can be effective for teenagers' negative behaviour.
Natural consequences are automatic resultant following teenager’s behaviour or action. These are learning moments that directly demonstrate the rationale for observing the rules and essentially steer teenagers into behaviour change.
These consequences are great because the teenager cannot claim unfairness on the part of the parent, because the consequences are objective and no respecter of person.
The teenager simply experiences the consequences when the directives are broken or not adhered to.
A natural consequence can be for example; a teenager who instead of “getting on with it” in the morning, start playing computer games, lose track of time and by the time they get to the bus stop the bus has left. They miss the bus because they failed to turn up on time. The natural consequence is; they miss the bus. The teenager was not at the bus-stop at the correct time, so the bus left. The natural consequence therefore is missing the bus, the behaviour is not turning up on time.
This then means they are late to get to school and now they have to deal with another lot of consequences (e.g) detentions or limited privileges. This is the second lot of consequences, logical consequences. With this one they lose some privileges.
2. Logical consequences and their effectiveness for correcting teenagers' negative behaviour.
Sometimes the natural consequences may not be an enough motivator for behaviour change, or the consequences would be detrimental and dangerous.
In this case, you as a transformational parent of a teenager may have to implement logical consequences linked to the behaviour, consequences that do not threaten the teenager’s life.
For example, let’s take the teenager who missed the bus. Once your teenager is left by the bus, they may mean not going to school. Missing school may be a natural consequence but letting them stay at home and miss school is not be a good consequence.
School absence has been found to affect academic performance of teenagers and can be detrimental to your teenager’s progress and advancement. So, in this case this natural consequence would not be appropriate. Another example where natural consequence would not be appropriate would be for example your teenager refusing to wear their seat belt.
You can’t just allow the teenager to go on like this, you know this could lead to death in the event of the slightest accident.
Let's go back and address the behaviour or decision not to go to school. A logical consequence for refusing to go to school could be; you only play on your gadgets after you come back from school. Additionally, local authorities may get involved for school refusal.
For refusing to wear a seat belt, you may say, "no one rides in my car without a seat belt on." Additionally, if this argument persists and there is constant contention, you may for example say, “I will not be supporting your driving lessons because you clearly fail to demonstrate maturity as far as road safety measures are concerned.”
Logical consequences are those set and decided whilst the natural consequences are those that result automatically from action not being taken or being taken.
So, let's walk through another example.
Your teenager knows it’s their responsibility to put their clothes in the wash basket.
If for example your teenager doesn't put their clothes in the wash basket, a natural consequence would be their clothes don’t get washed until the next load is done. A logical consequence could be that they have to do their own washing the next day.
The consequence is tied to the behaviour (Directly linked). They don't have their favourite clothing to wear.
(Realistic) you are asking them to do something they are well capable of doing. (Respectful of themselves and others)The teen didn't do what needed to be done, so you are asking them to do it.
By performing the task they are becoming Empowered because they are learning how to do it – this task requires them to put the clothes in the wash basket consistently so they are practicing the skills
Every time they don’t do as they are supposed to do, they either don’t have their clothes washed (natural consequence), or they have to do their own washing (logical consequence). So, they know exactly what’s going to happen (Deliverable).
Be prepared for battle when you start to implement effective consequences for your teenager's behaviour.
When you implement effective consequences, be ready for your teenager to go to as far as accusing and claiming you are the worst parent, because you didn’t do their washing so they can’t wear their favourite top.
They may feel angry and frustrated, but be firm. These feelings are a part of being human and will be part of their learning.
You cannot change the way they feel, but you can require they change the way they deal with the events that led to where they are at.
Treat them with understanding anyhow, but maintain that, had they done what was required at the time it was required, this would not have happened.
If your teen starts yelling or swearing, inform them that you are moving away from the situation and you will be available for a discussion when they are calm and ready to speak respectfully.
Do not stand there explaining or justifying your decisions, all they are likely to do is grumble and moan some more.
Walking away from arguments symbolises to them that yelling will not change what you want from them.
It also gives them space to reflect on their behaviour and make the decision to practice what is required, which is part of skills building. It is entirely up to them if they want to earn back their freedoms or privileges.
If they do what they are meant to do, their privileges are reinstated, if they don't, reiterate that AFTER they’ve done what is expected, THEN their privileges will be reinstated.
How to Choose Effective Consequences
Thinking back to the DRRED system what consequences would you choose as effective and suitable?
Today, our teenagers have privileges, many many privileges and as parent we ought to use these as motivators. The withdrawal or granting of a privilege should incentivise your teen to follow directives.
Remember, these directives are in place to enhance your teenager’s self-development.
However, when parenting teenagers, it is a wise idea to have rationale for these directives because in teenage years, one thing they do a lot is ask questions.
When discussing these directives with your teenager, they need to be able to see the reasoning behind them. When they see and understand the rationale, they are more likely to adopt the directives as they make sense to them. Additionally, involving teenagers in these discussion and consequences gives them a feeling of ownership and with this feeling of ownership they are more likely to follow through.
Motivators must be something that is meaningful to the teenager. For some, it is video games, for others, it is their mobile phones. Deciding what their motivators are and therefore what the right privileges are is important. Identify what would really have an impact to them if they lost it for a certain period of time.
Some psychologists including myself suggest you sit down with your teen and together come up with a list of privileges and consequences.
Four advantages accrue from this approach of discussing effective consequences.
1. The young person feels respected by being involved in decision making that affects them.
2. It creates a sense of teamwork in solving problems.
3. It clarifies to the teenage what is expected and why the consequences are appropriate and in place.
4. Eliminates the need to come up with irrational anger-filled consequences in the heat of the moment.
What do you do if they seem not to CARE or the consequences are not working?
Some teenagers may appear not to care whatever privileges are restricted. They pretend not to need it anyway. But you know in most cases, they do care. They may feel as if owning up to the fact that these privileges are important to them, they are giving away their power and therefore feign indifference. But if you know your teen quite well, you most likely chose the consequence because they were impactful.
So, give them time. They will do whatever is required and get the privilege back.
What If Consequences Still Aren't Working?
If the consequences are still not working, you may want to reconsider the length of time the privileges are removed. If it is too long your teen may lose interest in what has been taken away. Or it could be that the time frame is so long that you have actually set your teenager to fail and there is possibly no way they were going to be successful.
Remember the aim of the consequences is to encourage positive behaviour in your teen. You need to create an environment where they will succeed. Not set them up to fail.
In essence, for a consequence to be effective, it should be appropriate. Significant in itself, have a time limit that is long enough for your child to stretch their skills, but short enough to have a good chance of seeing an improvement of the negative behaviour. Think deliverability and realistic in the DRRED system.
As you can see it’s a real balancing act and requires you knowing your teen well and constant negotiation because different motivators work in different ways at different times. so constantly ask yourself what is appropriate, when and why in relation to DRRED
For Consequences to work think DRRED
Directly linked to the action
Let's revisit the putting clothes in the wash basket.
· Firstly, you have identified this as their responsibility, and you know they are capable of doing it. You have identified they need to do it and the change in behaviour would be picking up their clothes and putting them in the wash basket in time for the washing. Effective consequences as discussed earlier would then be directly linked to the lack of taking on responsibility.
· Realistic this is doable for the young person you are not being unrealistic.
· Respectful what you are asking of the young person to do is something that when he/she fulfils will lead to him having more self respect and you are facilitating self care which is part of respect.
· Empowering by asking your young person to do this you are helping them acquire life skills and by making them miss out on the washing you are allowing them to see the that there are losses that result from taking on responsibility
· Deliverable. If they don’t do what they are supposed to do, you know they will suffer by not having their favourite shirt cleaned and not being able to wear it.
Persistency and consistency is vital in the implementation of consequences.
Remember behaviour may not improve overnight, even though that is what you would like.Don't expect perfection immediately. Like any new skill, better behaviour takes practice.
Notice patterns of behaviour as well. Does your teen tend to misbehave or not take responsibility when under stress? Then the conversation you should be having is how to self-regulate, and manage so that when they are in stressful situations they are self aware.
Remember to praise them along the way too. Don’t wait until there is complete change of behaviour for you to mention improvements. Reward progress with positive words and positive reinforcement.
As you expect them to change, remember you are changing too because you are guiding them into acquiring a new behaviour. You may fail to follow through or sometimes feel lost. You may need to restart a couple of times. The most crucial point is that you stay focused and consistent and get everyone in the home unified in this.
Whatever you do, do not result into punitive measures. Always turn your attention to implementing consequences with the goal to improving the negative behaviour. Keep consequences task focused not person bashing. Consequences should never include denying your presence and valuing them as a person.
Remember like any leader you may fail and fall many times, but be persistent and consistent in your resolve and things will turn round.
Remember effective consequences are DRRED
Cheers and happy parenting teenagers
Till next time.
P.S. Share this report with at least one parent of teenagers
©Angela Karanja | Child Psychologist, Educator, Researcher| July 2020
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