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Elliot Talks: About Teens, Rules and Discipline, a teen perspective

Today TLT teen contributor Elliot is here to share a teen perspective with us on rules, obedience and disclipline. Although Elliot talks a lot here about parenting and its impact on who a teen is, I hope that those of us who work with teens in libraries will apply this same perspective to our relationships with teens.


The world has had this stereotype about teenagers being rebellious, moody, and disrespectful. The world treats this time in a person’s life as a shameful, embarrassing thing to talk about. People think teenagers act like this because they inherently have a rebellious spirit that makes them want to stand up to society. However, I don’t think that’s accurate. I think teenagers act this way because they are finally starting to think for themselves and they begin to realize that most parenting techniques have honestly been hurting them and they don’t want to settle for a life of mindless obedience any longer.

As a teenager who comes from a twisted family, I have a lot of opinions about the ways that parents raise their children. Everything in a person’s life is dependent on the years of their life that they spend under their parents’ roof, so raising a child is a serious {impact} that can make or break a person’s life.

To start off, I believe that discipline is one of the cornerstones of someone’s life. People must learn from an early age the difference between right and wrong, what they can do and what they shouldn’t do. However, discipline is a very tricky component of raising someone. In society right now, there is often a fine line between abuse and a parent’s way of disciplining their child, but that’s not the way that things should be. Discipline and abuse should be on drastic sides of a spectrum and the fact that they are often so closely linked together is a serious problem that I don’t think is being addressed as it should be.

Nowadays, parents often yell at their children for every mistake they make, thus making children feel like if they barely step out of line their parents are going to kill them. Kids don’t get the chance to explain themselves and are forced into silence making them feel like they did something wrong, when often if the parent would have just given the child a chance to explain themselves, the parent would have realized that the child did nothing wrong. Screaming is not a way to handle an unruly child. Talking to the child about their words or actions, and then a non-aggressive punishment such as taking away electronics or dessert that night teaches kids to behave while not making them afraid of their parents.

On the same subject as discipline, the rules that parents make for their children are also essential to how a kid behaves. The saying “strict parents make sneaky children” is not just some cheesy, snarky comment that teenagers say- it’s the truth. The more rules that a parent makes, the more rules there are for a child to break, and the more opportunities for a child to get in trouble. This snowball effect of rules putting pressure on kids makes a child extra cautious and extra sneaky because they never know for sure if what they’re doing violates their parents wishes. While I think rules are important, I also think they can become excessive. Putting more rules on a teenager makes them feel like their parents don’t trust them and then suddenly the teen can’t trust the parent either.

The last thing I would like to address is phases in a teenagers life. People often joke about the “emo phase” and how teens become so much more rebellious and angry all of a sudden and adults try to put them down for it. Phases are looked at with embarrassment and disappointment, but I think that they’re so important in life. Teens just want to find out who they are for themselves because all their life ADULTS have told them who they are and what they can and can’t do. This is a time for teens to find out their identity without any help. This is a time for teens to start growing up by pushing past the boundaries set for them and creating themselves BY themselves. All teenagers ask is for adults to give us a chance and try to understand us, but so often even that simple request seems like too much to ask for.

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