How Do You Discipline a 20-Year Old?

Your child is not, technically, a child any more; he or she is 20, over age in a couple of states; past the age of consent in others. But he needs discipline; boy, does he. What do you do? There are two answers to this. One is: You better do it; it’s never too late. And the other is that you actually have a few things going for you that you didn’t earlier. So if the first answer is that you better do it, the real question is how? You certainly can’t yell, fight, threaten, or “lose it” or you may as well throw in the towel. How to do it? — With the least display of emotion, the most neutral tone, you take away what you can, such as the car keys and money. You don’t do his laundry any more or cook his meals. No explanation, no discussion, no threats, nothing. Now pay attention to the strategy here: If you don’t go lecturing and threatening, you just take it away, then he’ll have to come after you asking what’s going on. See? And your reply? — Very cool. Something like, “I’m really sorry. You know I wanted to lend you the car. I got a tickle out of thinking how you’d matured and you were responsible and all. And then you went out with that Rob, after you assured me you wouldn’t, and, I just don’t feel secure and safe lending you the car. Believe me, I’m more disappointed than you are.” When you don’t deliver the message with anger, he has nothing to fight about. When...
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