What if they break the rules?

 If you’ve agreed on a rule and your teenager breaks it, then it’s important to put your foot down, so that they understand that what they did was wrong and learn from the experience. But remember that appreciation and affirmation when your teenager sticks to your agreement is more effective than threatening punishment if the rules are broken.


Talking about your feelings with your child is never ridiculous. Tell them how worried you get if they drink alcohol or come home late, for example. It’s not about guilt-tripping: you’re just telling them how it makes you feel. 


Showing appreciation and affirmation when your child sticks to what you’ve agreed is more effective than threatening punishments if they break the rules.

If you want to make it clear that there will be consequences if your teenager fails to stick to what you’ve agreed, it’s a good idea to talk about the consequences in advance. That makes it a kind of contract.

If your teenager is late home and you haven’t decided in advance what the consequences are, all you can do is react. But imposing a punishment without an explanation seldom yields the desired effect. A better approach is to talk to your teenager about what you can do to make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

"Punishment doesn’t help. It’s better to have a proper talk".

Gina, aged 15, Örebro


Sometimes, your patience runs out and you end up imposing a punishment without having really thought things through. And you might regret it after a while, or even forget what you said in the heat of the moment. And as a result, it becomes an empty threat, rather than something that enables your teenager to learn from their mistake. Repeated empty threats can result in a loss of respect for what the parent says.

Try to stand by what you’ve said. If you’ve said something in haste and now regret it, then say so. Feeling regret is OK, but it’s still important that you talk about it.  

Photo: Pablo Frisk

"My parents haven’t told me what I am and am not allowed to do. I do what I want and deal with the consequences, whatever they may be".

Axel, aged 15, Örebro

More to read about the same topic

Useful contacts and more info

It can sometimes be good to talk to someone who knows a bit more about teenagers and alcohol, or about anything else, for that matter.

If you want to do more

There’s a lot you can do to support and be there for teenagers. Maybe you can take part in night-time patrols, or make it easier for them to say “no”, or help promote a smarter approach to alcohol in some other way.

Other important topics to read about

When parents are not around

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