• For Love's Sake

Q8) How to discipline rebellious children?

(The full question is: My children are starting to talk back to us and exhibit other rude behaviours. How to discipline rebellious children?)


Congratulations! Your child is growing up and “talking back” is a common way for teenagers to express themselves. In general, the adolescence is the most difficult for parents as it is a process where teenagers begin to “individuate” and want to make their own choices for their life.  This means that parents will have to gradually cut the apron strings and allow their teens to make their own choices.  The more you empower your teens to make their own decisions within safety limits, the faster they mature and take responsibilities for themselves.  


If your interactions with your teens is mainly on their “flawed” behaviours, it will be difficult to gain their trust and collaborations.  Hence their “rebellion.”  Among other things they have done, teenagers actually do many things right - if only we take time to notice them.  The more we affirm what is right in them, the less we will need to fight against what is wrong about them.


This answer is written by Edwin Choy, the co-founder of Centre for Fathering. He has been married for 33 years to Lay Koon and is a father of 4 children from 21-29. Edwin’s work involves preparing couples for marriage, counselling, giving talks and conducting workshops on marriage enrichment, parenting, fathering, work-life balance and solution focused programmes for the work place. He also appeared numerous times on radio and conferences to speak to thousands on fathering and parenting issues in Singapore.

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