The overall idea behind the tough love approach is for parents to love their child enough to consistently set firm limits and follow through with appropriate consequences when a teen breaks the rules.
It’s often used with troubled teens who make risky choices. In these cases, a parent may need to let a child face the natural consequences of his behavior.
Another important tenet of tough love is that teens need to be responsible for their behavior. That means making sure a child is responsible for the choices she makes.
Tough love advocates the following teen parenting strategies:
- Let your teen see your love while also being firm when discipline is needed.
- Seek professional help when necessary.
- Consistently set and enforce reasonable expectations, limits, and boundaries.
- Find a balance between guiding your child and granting too much freedom.
- Respect your teen as an individual going through important changes while growing into an adult.
- Take a stand and take charge if a child creates an unsafe or unmanageable situation in the home.
- Let go of trying to control your child. Let him make his own choices and allow him to experience the consequences.
Here are a few examples of ways parents might use tough love:
Examples of Tough Love With Teenagers
- A teen skips school. Parents notify school officials that their child is truant.
- A parent discovers marijuana in a teen’s room. The parents call the police to report this.
- A teen skips her court-ordered community service. The parents notify the authorities the teen is non-compliant.
- A teen experiences withdrawal from nicotine after a parent throws away her cigarettes. The parent refuses to buy her any more cigarettes and doesn’t give her money to get them.
- A parent tells an 18-year-old that he cannot continue living in the home if he doesn’t have a job and doesn’t attend school.
- A 19-year-old is told that he must be home by midnight on the weekends. The parents lock the door at midnight and if he’s not inside, he has to find an alternative place to stay.