Discipline: The Coaching Years (13 and beyond)

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Hebrews 12:11 

This is the last in a series of three posts on discipline, so if your child is younger than 12, be sure to go back and read The Foundation and The Teaching Years.

As your child moves into adolescence, you’ll gradually transition from teaching to coaching when it comes to discipline. During these years you need to loosen the reins a little and allow your child to begin making more decisions on their own.  As your child gets closer to the age of 18, they should really be making most decisions on their own. This is where you’ll see the fruit of all the years you spent explaining the why behind your rules. You’ll begin see the results of the heart conversations you had to build up a strength of character capable of withstanding challenges from peers, culture, and temptation.

All that said, you are still the parent! Remember that you are the adult, and the frontal lobe in your brain is fully developed, but the one in your 18 year old’s brain is not. You will need to put your foot down on certain occasions or provide guidance as your child makes choices, but choose your moments carefully. These years require patience from a mom, and your main focus needs to be on allowing the natural consequences to play out in a child’s life. 

Do not rescue your child during this stage. If they fail a test, they fail a test. Let them feel the consequences of their actions. You want them to make mistakes now, while the consequences aren’t quite as drastic as they will be when they are completely on their own. Wisdom is gained through knowledge, time, and experience. If we are in the habit of rescuing constantly or if we make choices for our children because we fear they might mess up too much, we are denying them an opportunity to gain wisdom that will serve them well in adulthood.