What if they break the rules?

If you’ve agreed upon on a rule and they break it, then it’s important to put your foot down. Some parents use grounding as a punishment, while some settle for a thorough telling off. It’s up to you to decide what the best approach is. The most important thing is that your teenager understands that what they did was wrong so that they learn from the experience.


Showing that you care or talking about your feelings with your child is never ridiculous or stupid. Make it clear to you teenager that you get very worried – when they drink alcohol or come home late, for example. It’s not about guilt-tripping – you’re just saying how it makes you feel.


Parents and teenagers alike tend to handle the situation better if they’ve agreed in advance what the consequences will be if they break the rules. Why not have an open discussion about what will happen if your teenager comes home late, for example. It’s good if it feels like a mutual agreement.

If you get punished, you just get annoyed and angry. You don't learn anything from it.

Melissa, aged 14, Örebro


If your teenager comes home late and you haven’t already decided on the consequences, then it’s a good idea to say something. If you say nothing and simply impose a punishment, there’s a risk that your teenager will close themselves off.   The punishment might have the opposite effect then you intended. Talk to your teenager about what they think is a reasonable consequence and what you both can do to ensure it doesn’t happen again.


Sometimes, your patience runs out and you simply can’t handle a talk right now. When this happens, it’s very easy to just impose a punishment without having really thought it through. You might regret what you’ve said when you’ve calmed down a bit. Or you might even forget what you said in the heat of the moment and it becomes an empty threat, rather than something that enables your teenager to learn from their mistake. Using empty threats regularly might just lead to a less respectful relationship between you. So try and stand by what you’ve said and what you’ve agreed. If you’ve said something in haste and now regret it, then say so. The most important thing is that you talk about it.

More to read about the same topic

Take responsibility

Maybe you sometimes feel pretty helpless as a parent. But there’s a lot you can do. As always showing that you care, that you’re there and that you are happy to listen. And often it’s important to be clear about what you expect of your teenager.

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

Teenagers and alcohol

There are many considerations that can easily arise when your child becomes a teenager. But first and foremost: how do young people think about drinking themselves? And why is it more dangerous to drink alcohol in adolescence than as an adult?

If parents are not around

Festivals, home parties and trips abroad are examples of situations where adults are rarely present. There are some pitfalls that you, as a parent, should be aware of and that you can teach your teenager how to handle.

Yes or no?

The clearer you communicate your expectations, the easier it is for your teenager to take a stand or do what you say. Also, think about what sort of message and values you’re conveying to your child.

The teenage years

The teenage years are a very special time in your child’s life. Teenagers are navigating the frontier lands between childhood and adulthood and there are a lot of new things to handle: school, friends, being allowed to stay out late, sex, parties and – not least – alcohol.

Teenager’s drinking habits

Not only is it illegal to buy alcohol for young people, but most adults think that alcohol is something teenagers should be avoiding. So where are teenagers getting their alcohol? How much do they drink? And what sort of problems do young people experience in connection to alcohol?

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