Punishment , Part three. The "game of take away", as one teenager called it, is played by parents when their teenager doesn't play by basic family rules. Resources that seem to be most commonly denied in this electronic age are cell phones, messaging devices, and the computer.
Without the means of communication, the young person is handicapped in his contact with peers at a time when being in constant touch with them feels all-important.
Of course, the most common deprivation that parents use to punish major infractions is the loss of social freedom -- grounding. For most adolescents, freedom is the breath of life, so denying it can really hurt. Social circulation is cut off while the social interaction of friends keeps going on.
On the plus side for parents, their power of permission is amplified by their power to restrict. On the downside, however, they lose some freedom as well because now the jailers are forced to keep uneasy company with the unhappy person being jailed.
Because deprivation has considerable effect, parents need to use it judiciously. Here are four guidelines to consider. When you take every resource and freedom away, you have just liberated your adolescent because he or she has nothing left to lose. For example, do not prohibit participation in some activity like sports or a special interest through which the young person nourishes their development and good feelings about them self.
To do so is destructive, not just corrective. Find some valued resource or freedom to temporarily deny that is not at the expense of the teenager's growth. Your purpose is to temporarily reduce full freedom of contact with friends, but not to cut that contact off entirely. So if you are keeping her in this weekend, don't disallow cell phone and computer communication.
This way, she can be out of social flow but still be in touch with what is going on. The longer you take your young person out of social action, the more you put her at risk of losing social position, the lower her social standing among friends when she returns, the more subject to peer pressure she may be as she struggles to re-establish herself. In this case, these parents have said something like this. If you choose to, even though it is against house rules, you are free leave whenever you want and stay out as late as you want.
This is ultimately up to you. But when you re-enter, that is up to us. You will have to call first to negotiate the terms of your return. Apparently, for an older adolescent who still wants to live at home, when following curfew becomes a residency requirement, it can catch the young person's attention. On balance, I believe she is correct. Grounding out is not worth the risks to the young person's safety that can be created. Deprivation has a major drawback as a corrective.
It is passive punishment because all that parents are asking the young person to do is do nothing or to do without.
It makes no demands on the young person's energy or time. Reparation is active punishment because it prescribes tasks to be done to work off the offense. Thus the parent says something like this. And that work must be performed to my satisfaction. Some parents even keep a list of household projects that need doing around the place tacked on the refrigerator in anticipation of the next infraction.
Well they all need washing. Restitution involves meeting with the victim if the victim is willing ; getting to hear from the victim about all the material, physical, and emotional damage that was done; and then working out some actual amends to the person to compensate for the hurt. Deprivation and reparation can both be effective punishments, with this proviso.
After the terms of punishment have been duly accomplished, then parents need to consider the violation paid for "in full," which means they do not refer to it again. A parent who holds onto to past violations, who will not let them go, "keeping books against me" as one teenager called it, builds up a history of complaints that no young person can ever overcome.
And the next time I get in trouble, which sooner or later is bound to happen, they bring it all up against me. Nothing I do wrong is ever over with. It's just added to the list of all the wrong I've done. It recognizes that correction is criticism enough. The teenager already knows that parents are sufficiently concerned and displeased to take serious issue with his behavior, so they shouldn't couple correction with attacks on the young person's capacity or character.
Better to simply disagree with the choice he or she has made. Thus, rather than talk about "what a stupid and irresponsible thing that was for you to do," they make a non-evaluative corrective response instead. The punishment message they give is specific, explanatory, and compensatory. And, in consequence, this is what we need to have happen now. Adolescence in the age of electronic entertainment.