I have recently had the worst problems with my son ever. Since two and a half years he is non-stop ignoring rules and being cheeky to me and my wife.

At first we thought that this kind of behaviour was totally normal, puberty and stuff. Here are some examples of whatis so annoying about his behaviour:

  • He ignores when we call him for lunch, dinner, etc, and always comes five minutes after we called him. He definitely is doing this on purpose.

  • He keeps talking back when we tell him to learn and do his homework for school.

  • When we tell him to get off the computer because we need it (we only have a family computer) he ignores us until we plug it out, then he gets really angry

  • He keeps argueing about things that were already decided, even when he knows he has no chance of convincing us. The main topic is that we don't allow him to have a smartphone, I have been interested in computers since 30 years now and I really see the problems of constant internet access.

The problems is that he seems to be ignorant to all punishments, he jus ignores it and behaves extra bad when we e.g. take away his computer access. We tried to approach to him by giving him some of the things he really wanted (IPod touch, until he broke it and we refused to buy a new one) but that made it only worse, he seemed to think that ennerving us would help him reach his targets.

What is an appropriate approach. I don't like it to do nothing since I know that this behaviour won't disappear tomorrow, but we definitely won't go to a psychatrist, this is no alternative.

Please suggest effective punishments and possibilities to deal with this behaviour.

  • When you say "answering" in the second point, do you mean "talking back"?
    – Erik
    Nov 26, 2017 at 10:19
  • Yes I do! Sorry, forgot the correct term! ^^
    – user30499
    Nov 26, 2017 at 10:28
  • 1
    Ignorant is not the correct word here. It is not a form of ignore.
    – paparazzo
    Nov 26, 2017 at 12:54
  • You need to make him feel the hurt for disrespecting his mother and father honestly with words only and make him feel horrible until he starts to cry about it. Explain how much you love and care for him and do everything for him and it's your job to ensure he knows how to be a responsible man and survive in this world when he get's out on his own. Anyone can get sucked into the trap of life thinking 10 - 15 - 20 dollars and hour is good money but not everyone can be a doctor, lawyer, etc. He needs to learn now or will feel the pain big time later so stay at it and be in his ear daily with it.
    – Facebook
    Dec 18, 2017 at 23:28
  • Be in his ear so much that it annoy's him and just annoy him with letting him know about his disrespecting his mother and father hurts them and makes them feel pain. Say this in front of family members or friends to embarrass him. Ask his friends in front of him what they do when their mother or father says come in and eat. Ask them if they yell or backtalk their parents. Ask them if they know if that would hurt their parents feelings. Ask him if he loves him mom and dad, then ask your son the same. Then why do you disrespect me like that; ignoring, yelling, screaming, whining, breaking things
    – Facebook
    Dec 18, 2017 at 23:31

4 Answers 4


The teenage years can be so challenging. When things get stuck, as you've described, it can be helpful for the parent to take a step back and make an inventory of the child's strengths, and the strengths of the parent-child relationship. For the latter, it can be helpful to focus on what common ground you have, and have had, over the years.

As a parent, I've found that the best discipline is built on a strong rapport. The books that have helped me the most are Between Parent and Child and Between Parent and Teenager by Haim Ginott, and How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk and Liberated Parents, Liberated Children by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. Here's a quote from the last title I listed:

It seemed to us that it was the parent's duty to "set the child straight," explain why some of his schemes were foolhardy and unrealistic.

Now we understand that the outside world is only too quick to clip wings, and that it is the parent's privilege to nourish his child's dream.

Technology has brought new challenges since those four books were published. Here's a resource I've found helpful for conflicts around technology: https://www.screenagersmovie.com/tech-talk-tuesdays/. It's a weekly email that gets my son and me thinking and dialoguing around technology.

For your specific conflicts related to technology, I have two thoughts for you to consider:

  • Set up a computer filter with time limits. The advantage of this is that the computer will close his account for you at the end of the prescribed time limit.

  • If you decide to purchase a technology item for your child, realize that there is a certain risk that it will break, stop working, or get lost. Before buying it, plan ahead for what your replacement policy will be.

For the problem of late arrivals home, I have sometimes offered a simple reward for getting home on time. These rewards are extremely simple, varied, and not offered each time. Also, sometimes I give a reward for arriving home on time, without having offered it ahead of time.

Once in a blue moon I threaten a negative consequence, but it has to be rather weird to work. Here's one that worked for me recently: "If you're not home at the time you said, today, I'm going to clean your ears." (My son, at 14, consistently wants to clean his own ears now.)

One of my cardinal rules for myself that I try very hard to never break is never humiliate or embarrass the child in front of others.

Disciplining a teenager can be tremendously challenging, but also rewarding.


At 14 he is 2-4 years away from being considered an adult in some cultures, so it's time to start treating him more like an adult

  • Dinner: That's not unusual, you can start without him. Or introduce a new rule that the last one who arrives cleans the dishes - and the first one has to set the table. If he breaks the dinner rules, no dinner.
  • Homework can be unpopular, sounds normal.
  • When at the computer, he might be doing something which can't be easily interrupted without him feeling a sense of loss. I suggest a rule: Set a clock when you need the PC, to 5 or 10 minutes. Inform him when you start the clock. If he's still at the PC when the clock goes off, he's banned from the PC for 24 hours. Let him negotiate - if he says he needs 15 minutes this one time, set the clock to 15 minutes that one time.
  • When he's facing peer pressure to get a smartphone, arguing about it is his only way to reach his goal. Provide another way. You can't (and IMO shouldn't) forbid him from owning a smartphone at 14, but you can let him pay for the phone and the charges himself. He can save his allowance, ask his grandparents and other gift-givers to pool their money for a bigger present, or look for a holiday job. Make sure he gets a prepaid plan so any loss is limited when he falls for any of the multiple kinds of smartphone related frauds - if he ends up with a $1000 bill you need to pay for him you're the one demanding $1000 from him, which is exactly the situation you do not want.

I actually recommend a similar approach for the PC (< $400), the iPod-equivalent (< $50), etc - he can buy one. That way you don't have to worry if he breaks it. When he breaks the things he earned himself, he's already punished himself, and you can be there for him, build a positive relationship, and there's no expectation for you to replace what's broken.

  • I'd say drop the allowance. He can earn money. Whether he gets a job at McDonald's or cuts lawns , or he is offered commission for jobs around the house, money he earns is money he will be much more careful of.
    – pojo-guy
    Nov 26, 2017 at 0:46
  • I think allowance for kids is a good idea. I would get an allowance every week I did my homework. If he is so busy that he wants to work at McDonald's instead of doing homework then he obviously doesn't need an allowance
    – Batavia
    Nov 26, 2017 at 9:31
  • @Batavia technically that's not an allowance, that's being paid to do your homework ;)
    – Erik
    Nov 26, 2017 at 10:14
  • @pojo-guy I recommend an allowance because it's a way to teach him about money and value before he has to earn it. I also recommend the allowance to be small compared to what a side job earns - however much money ~2-3 hours of properly compensated work would earn a 12 year old per month. The allowance can then be adjusted whenever he's expected to cover some additional expenses on his own, e.g. clothes.
    – Peter
    Nov 26, 2017 at 11:45
  • We actually start our kids on commissions at about 6. When they do a payable job, they are paid immediately. No work,, no pay. Do work, get paid appropriately for it on the spot. When the kids get older, say 12ish, we start paying once a week with bank account deposits.
    – pojo-guy
    Nov 26, 2017 at 12:54

This is entirely normal.

And I have to say I think your approach in looking for punishments is entirely misguided - you can see that it isn't working already. The teenage brain is not going to work like yours - you need to work out what does make a difference.

Encouragement and positive reinforcement are going to work much better for you than punishment!

  • 2
    It's easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar.
    – pojo-guy
    Nov 26, 2017 at 0:39
  • 2
    I think the teenage brain does work a lot like the adult's in this case - the adult would react equally poorly to punishment.
    – Erik
    Nov 26, 2017 at 10:15
  • 1
    @erik good point. His reaction is very much like an adult's givern the same treatment. What is not necessarily adult behavior is his initial behavior. Instead of thinking punishment, OP should be thinking natural consequences. Come late for dinner and you have to serve yourself, etc. I don't have anything for the homework, which I have come to the conclusion is all busy work in middle school. If you can't convince me or former middle school teachers it's useful, you won't convince him. If someone wants to debate the value of muddle school we can take that to chat,, though
    – pojo-guy
    Nov 26, 2017 at 13:05

Looking at the points you mentioned, I found that you are concerned about his punishments. But punishment is not the only way you can sculpt your kids. Spend some time with him, tell him that you love him and see the changes. This does not mean to avoid punishing 100%. Maintain the communication and the balance between things and so that he can feel you are trustworthy. Try some positive parenting techniques and obverse the changes you see in him. Hitting your son would not solve an issue, he might be get used to it and behave aggressively. Rather you should try some positive parenting techniques to overcome his naughty behavior. I have read an article on positive parenting and it was quite helpful. Sharing with you if it helps - http://www.mommybloggersclub.com/positive-parenting-parenting-todays-teenagers/

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