25 answers

Punishing My Teenager

My daughter is 16yrs. old she is failing everything in school, so I grounded her and took her phone away, my sister thinks I should return the phone, what should I do?

Just thought I would clarify a few things although I appreciate the feedback from all of you this isnt so cut and dry, she is a very well behaved child she doesnt give me any trouble, I have three kids so I dont have all the time in the world to stay on top of what just one of them is up to at all times, I am a single mom their dad passed away two years ago, and this is when it all started to go down hill, I have tried to talk to her and explain what the real world is all about, and I myself am new at this whole punishment thing, yes they are all older but I have carried around alot of guilt for them for so long that I have tried to give them everything and guess have lost my way in doing so, And yes I feel really, really bad for taking her phone, and grounding her.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

You are the parent. Personally, I would have grounded her for the summer and required her to go to summer school. But I'm a "meanie mommie"!

2 moms found this helpful

I think that taking the phone away at the end of May is a little late, myself. That phone and computer would have been gone a long time ago...
But - better late than never.
LBC

1 mom found this helpful

She needs to earn her stuff back. If she wants her cell phone so bad - she can EARN it back.....same with computer time....

16 or no - she has responsibilities and she needs to get her education. I would find out why she is not doing better...talk WITH her - not TO her and find out what's going on....

Find out what she needs in order to thrive in school....is she distracted by boys, friends or what?

Talk to the teachers - find out what they are observing in school....

Find out what she wants to do with her life...does she expect the "state" to take care of her or does she expect that at 18 or 19 she'll still be living at home rent free?

What responsibilities does she have?
Does she participate in sports at school? If she does - then she's in jeopardy of losing those as well.....

WORK WITH HER - NOT AGAINST her....communicate WITH her...don't talk TO her....find out what's going on...help her.

Updated

She needs to earn her stuff back. If she wants her cell phone so bad - she can EARN it back.....same with computer time....

16 or no - she has responsibilities and she needs to get her education. I would find out why she is not doing better...talk WITH her - not TO her and find out what's going on....

Find out what she needs in order to thrive in school....is she distracted by boys, friends or what?

Talk to the teachers - find out what they are observing in school....

Find out what she wants to do with her life...does she expect the "state" to take care of her or does she expect that at 18 or 19 she'll still be living at home rent free?

What responsibilities does she have?
Does she participate in sports at school? If she does - then she's in jeopardy of losing those as well.....

WORK WITH HER - NOT AGAINST her....communicate WITH her...don't talk TO her....find out what's going on...help her.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Take away the phone and do not return it until you see some progress made in her grades. I remember when I was that age of 16. I was grounded from February-end of school for bad grades. No phone, or going out. I got straight A's for the last quarter .

4 moms found this helpful

Who cares what your sister thinks? She is your daughter.

2 moms found this helpful

You are the parent. Personally, I would have grounded her for the summer and required her to go to summer school. But I'm a "meanie mommie"!

2 moms found this helpful

I think that taking the phone away at the end of May is a little late, myself. That phone and computer would have been gone a long time ago...
But - better late than never.
LBC

1 mom found this helpful

I would suggest therapy to help her deal with the aftermath of loosing her father. My mother died when I was 13 - it is a difficult age to loose a parent. Possibly combine individual therapy with family counseling - therapy was invaluable for helping me cope with my mother's death. Check out your local health department for referrals - there is probably an agency in your area that offers this service for free or on a sliding fee scale basis.

I would suggest you talk to her school and teachers about her academic performance. Find out what they recommend - should she repeat a grade? Do they have tutoring available? Summer programs?

I believe in consequences for poor academic performance. My son will be 15 this weekend, and he knows that his "job" is school. With that being said, he flunked freshman English this past term. I have opted against summer school, and he will retake it next term, giving up an elective to do so. But, I will also download English worksheets, and give him a reading list for the summer. Once school starts again he knows that he will have no privileges Monday through Thursday nights until he proves that he is being academically responsible.

If you do not have a system of expectations and consequences for your children it is very hard to institute one. But, since your children are older, and your daughter is failing, now is the time to make a plan. Figure out what your expectations for your children are, write them down. Then sit down with your children and go over the list with them. Let be a part of the process, since they are older, and let them also help figure out the consequences. But, you always reserve the right to the last "say so" on what those consequences are.

As for staying on top of what they are doing. My Dad wound up raising two teenage daughters on his own after my mom died. He instituted a rule that we had to have a least one sit down family meal together per week without interruptions. The phone got unplugged (this is pre cell), No TV, etc. This gave us a time to reconnect and check in with one another. We also developed a system of leaving each other notes on the kitchen counter - where were going, what we were doing, etc.

Don't feel bad for enacting consequences for her academic performance - that makes you a good parent.

Good Luck
God Bless

1 mom found this helpful

She needs to earn her stuff back. If she wants her cell phone so bad - she can EARN it back.....same with computer time....

16 or no - she has responsibilities and she needs to get her education. I would find out why she is not doing better...talk WITH her - not TO her and find out what's going on....

Find out what she needs in order to thrive in school....is she distracted by boys, friends or what?

Talk to the teachers - find out what they are observing in school....

Find out what she wants to do with her life...does she expect the "state" to take care of her or does she expect that at 18 or 19 she'll still be living at home rent free?

What responsibilities does she have?
Does she participate in sports at school? If she does - then she's in jeopardy of losing those as well.....

WORK WITH HER - NOT AGAINST her....communicate WITH her...don't talk TO her....find out what's going on...help her.

Updated

She needs to earn her stuff back. If she wants her cell phone so bad - she can EARN it back.....same with computer time....

16 or no - she has responsibilities and she needs to get her education. I would find out why she is not doing better...talk WITH her - not TO her and find out what's going on....

Find out what she needs in order to thrive in school....is she distracted by boys, friends or what?

Talk to the teachers - find out what they are observing in school....

Find out what she wants to do with her life...does she expect the "state" to take care of her or does she expect that at 18 or 19 she'll still be living at home rent free?

What responsibilities does she have?
Does she participate in sports at school? If she does - then she's in jeopardy of losing those as well.....

WORK WITH HER - NOT AGAINST her....communicate WITH her...don't talk TO her....find out what's going on...help her.

1 mom found this helpful

Still keep up with discipline regardless of the guilt you feel. Family counseling is a good idea too to overcome the loss. She is acting out because she does not know how to handle her feelings and emotions in a healthy manner.

Ha! Absolutely not. How did she get to the point that she was failing everything without you knowing? Asking because my daughter is only 7 and I don't ever want that to happen - but we check all of the work that comes home from school and preschool. I'd take away everything if my kid was failing - and I wouldn't give two hoots what anyone else said about it.

I would look into counseling for her given her father died.

Also, if you or your sister feel she needs the phone for safety/emergency communication - you can get a cell phone without texting and even restrict the numbers called on it.

Why does she think you should give your daughter a phone when she can't pull her grades up? I think if that's going to get your daughter's attention, then keep it as long as you need. Maybe all the way through summer school. If your sister thinks it's a safety issue, then provide your daughter with a kiddie pay as you go phone with 911, your home, work and cell numbers or something. Nothing unlimited.

My DH used to take the cables for the video games that my SS played and then was up all night working on homework. SS could stare at the console, but couldn't play.

That said, I also agree that there's something else at the bottom of everything and you need to also find out what and make a plan. Go in to the school and meet with teachers and/or guidance. Talk your daughter about what's going on with her school or classes.

My oldest nephew failed brilliantly and his parents decided that at 17 he could drop out and work and the goal was for him to get his GED and begin attending community college. It also helped very much that they moved and he was no longer hanging out with the same bad crowd. School was the symptom of bigger issues.

Similarly, when my niece won a literary award and failed English the same year, SIL found out it was due to lack of turning in work. The consequence was that she didn't get to do dance that summer (may have missed the cruise, too) because the family had to pay for summer school instead. Niece learned to do better.

Is she failing b/c she just doesn't understand her lessons even though she studies all day and night? Or is she failing b/c she isn't motivated to learn anymore and just doesn't care?

If it is the latter, then I think you have bigger problems than just returning her phone.

Punishment for bad grades really doesn't work. You really need to dig in and find out what is causing the grade drop, rather than assuming it's because her father died. Sure she could be still grieving, but you have to explain to her that is not what her father would want to see. You also have to explain why grades are important. Can't get into college if your grades are bad, which means you limit yourself as to what you can be or what your career will be. Find out if the work got harder...Does she understand it...does she make time to do homework...is she missing homework or is she doing poor on tests...move the computer into the living room so you both can use it and you can see how long she's on there doing homework or socializing....make a schedule for her...does she need a psychologist to talk to....doesn she need you to talk to....did you ever look at her school work to see what it's like?

If she has always been a good kid and this is something new, there is an issue somewhere that needs to be addressed. I can't imagine with all the regular woes a teen goes through and add the pressure of losing her dad.

Your family has been through a lot. Maybe you all need some grief counseling.

Taking a phone and grounding is ok for teens who deserve to be grounded.

I tend to believe there is a lot of deeper things going on here that is more important than failing grades. She needs a confident (counselor, teacher, friend, you, etc) to talk with and get back on the good track she was on.

Why would you consider giving the phone back simply because your sister said you should???
I don't think you provide enough info. WHY is she failing? Is she cutting class and not turning in any work out of laziness? Is she using drugs? Is she having an emotional breakdown? Has she always been a poor student and does she have any learning disabilities? Punishing may not get to the bottom of WHY she is failing. I'd set up an appointment with the school counselor for you and daughter. I have an almost 16 year old. This is a vital time in terms of college positioning and she cannot afford to fail. Do not feel bad or guilty. Letting your daughter fail and ruining her chances for college will not bring her father back. If she's being lazy, if she's being defiant and is not going to class or bothering to do her assignments, then she deserves punishment and this has nothing to do with losing her father a couple of years ago (and if I seem insensitive, please realize that I lost my own father as a young child so I do know what that is like) Good luck

tough love you are doing the best you can i raised 2 kids father died gave them everything they ok but i may have gave them too much who knows it so so hard I think you need help she could be depressed or something else you are not super mom my 16 yr old girl does the lest school work to get by so its tough to keep on top go threw her stuff and contact teachers good luck

Um..... i don't think this answer will be very helpful. I never punish my kids, but I think you should try to figure out why your daughter if failing. Maybe it's not her fault, and she doesn't deserve to be punished.

Well, she's sure not using the phone to call for help with her homework.
If she's needing help/tutoring - she needs to get on the ball with working with someone to overcome what ever difficulties she is having.
If it's pure attitude that's getting in her way, you need to tell her the fun stuff (phone, tv, games, non school related computer time, using the car, going out, etc) and privileges are earned by good behavior and her trying her best to succeed at school.
You are required to provide her with food (it doesn't have to be anything fancy), clothing (it doesn't have to be designer), and shelter (a room with a mattress in it is the bare basics) until she's 18 and after that if she wants to see how the world is going to treat a drop out with an attitude - she's free to move out and see how well that works for her.
Your sister needs to understand that failing everything is not in the child s best interest and if she can't come up with more constructive ideas perhaps she should butt out.

No, don't return the phone. I'm with "Exhausted&Lovinit" mom.
She will just be busy texting all day long. I think she can definitely earn it back. Make it an attainable goal though.

It's really hard to discipline, when you feel like you have to make up for her heartbreak, I know. But allowing her to fail will NOT help her, so you have to stay tough.

Don't think of it as punishment. Her job, as a child, is to go to school and perform reasonably well there. Reasonably well can be a C. She doesn't have to get A's and B's, but she can't get D's or fail. And, getting D's and F's almost always means they are not doing the work, not that they are trying and not succeeding. She HAS to do her work.

Therefore, take away her phone and computer, or whatever things mean a lot to her, and make her EARN them by doing reasonably well (C's) in school. Fortunately, it's summer, so you will have a little break, and you can prepare her for what is going to happen in the fall.

Tell her that next semester, you are going to be constantly in touch with her teachers (which you need to do), and you will know how her grades are, and if she is turning in her work. If she is not doing her work, all the things she treasures (usually phone and computer time), are going to be taken away, and she will earn them back by doing her schoolwork. If a grade is bad enough, because she hasn't turned in her work, then yes, you can ground her until her teacher has told you she turned in her schoolwork. You can give her the phone during the day, if you need to be in touch with her, but you need to take it away from her as soon as you get home.

Remember, it is not PUNISHMENT, it is making her earn her privileges, by doing her job, which is doing her schoolwork. It's really hard, but be strong, because she will be happier in the long run when she is not failing her classes. I have seen a number of girls go down the failure path in the past few years, and I know for certain that this is what you must do.

By the way, it is tragic that her dad died, but life has to go on, and failing her classes will not bring her dad back, or improve her life in any way. Tragic things happen in life, and we have to learn how to deal with them and go on, not fall apart and cease to function.

Who cares what your sister thinks?

You said things stated to go down hill when their father died. Have you sought counseling for your daughter? I really think it's a good idea to rule our depression. Maybe, she really just needs someone who has no opinion and history to talk to. It's no coincidence this is happening since she lost her father.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SETTING LIMITS--there's something wrong with not setting them. I am a nurse in a juvenile detention center, and I know how much trouble there is out there for kids to get into. Sometimes it's really nice kids who have no limits and just drift into trouble by being with the wrong kids at the wrong time. She is your responsibility both legally and emotionally at this stage of the game, and you need to take some control of her. Believe me, the more she pushes back, the more she secretly is relieved that you are taking charge. If she is failing in school, the school counselor should be involved. Also, she probably needs some grief counseling--as do you all. Good luck and God bless.

my aunt just came to visit with her 3 teenagers. one is a girl and she is 15. i asked her if she texted her friends a lot and she said, "my mom doesn't allow me to have a cell phone. it's distracting." while i thought that was pretty odd in this day and age, i thought it was refreshing.

taking away her cell phone as a punishment fits into this realm. i think a cell phone is a luxury for anyone under 18. what did they take away from us in the early 90s? tv? the real phone? this is a decent punishment in my eyes and when my kids are of age i will do the same. don't feel bad.

keep at being the enforcer. especially since you are now the ultimate parent, it's going to be a few testy years, but she will thank you as an adult. i know i thanked my mom and dad for keeping me on track with punishments as a teen. if they didn't, who knows where my rebellious youth self would be now? keep your guilt at bay and ask a friend who is willing to be your sounding board, just so you can let off steam and then go right back to being the parent with many hats.

good luck, God bless. you're doing great!

I think it depends on how your teenager is dealing with the punishment.. Is she going to be able to get her grades up for the end of school or will she be doing summer school. Do you know why she is getting failing grades in all her classes? I have been thru bad grades with both my son and duaghter b/c they didn't turn things in on time or at all. My son had to switch classes midyear and as a result had no one he knew in lunch and hated his spanish class- he figured it out- must turn things in.
My daughter I grounded for afew days and then made sure she was doing things to get grade up- extra work. I made sure I got an update from teacher that grade improved...which it did. I usually ground her from TV & friends but let her keep her cell phone until I get home - we have no home phone....
I found with my son if I took too much away from him he felt no motivation to do ANYTHING...

Failing everything? That sounds like a bigger problem than just bad attitude. I would suggest that you have a heart to heart with her and find out why she is not doing well at that school... maybe the solution is a different approach or a different school. If the problem is that she is not fitting in to the current program than punishment is not going to make things better.

It may be something as little as needs eye glasses and it may be something as big as an unknown head injury.

No! Whatever you do don't give back the phone. A phone is a privilage not a right. Lay out exactly what she needs to do to earn phone time and if she does, let her use it...

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