Do you have problems disciplining your ODD teenager in your home? The number one parenting tool that works for everyone is consequences. That’s right, you set out limits for your children and then follow up with consequences when the limit is broken.

But consequences don’t work, you say. My kids just don’t seem to care.

Well, maybe your consequences are not effective consequences. Maybe the results of breaking a boundary is really just a punishment. And punishments don’t work. Punishments cause resentment in the child and do nothing to change behavior.

Ask yourself, am I just punishing my ODD teen? It’s easy to understand the difference. A consequence must have a learning portion to it. It must be connected to the offence that your child did wrong.

For example, if your son loses your cell phone, don’t make his nightly curfew earlier. There’s no connection between the cell phone and his curfew and this would be a punishment. A correct consequence would be restricted use of the cell phone in the future, or even that he work to help you pay for a replacement cell phone.

On the other hand, maybe your consequences are effective, but your son still doesn’t seem to care. Maybe your consequence to spend an hour in his room is ineffective because he has a book to read for school and had already planned to spend time in his room. Or maybe losing his driving privileges is ineffective because he plans to be away for the weekend.

You need to understand that a consequence that works once might not be effective another time. Learn to judge your son’s reactions and change his consequences accordingly.

Again, your son might not seem to care because he has learned to control his reactions. So while his outer facade shows indifference, he really does fret about his consequence. Don’t be fooled by his uncaring attitude. If this is the case he will probably overreact to minor consequences to make you feel he is properly being corrected.

Get to know your child and understand what makes him tick. Knowing the right consequence is the key to changing his behavior.

Consequence can be tricky. I’ve worked with many parents fine tuning my parenting methods and learning what works and what doesn’t. I have created a video that shows you the most common mistake make by parents. Don’t fall into this same trap. It can mean the difference between respectful children and children who rule the household.

Anthony Kane, MD is a physician, an international lecturer, and director of special education. He is the author of a book, numerous articles, and a number of online programs dealing with ADHD treatment, ODD, child behavior issues, and education.