If you are tired of arguing, threatening or plain fighting with your child about behavior, it’s time to develop the use of logical consequences for discipline. When families practice consequences to teach appropriate behavior, the children get to practice making choices, internalizing rules instead of complying just to avoid punishment. And most importantly they lead to less resentment and than punishments like time out or spanking. Why? Because consequences for behavior make sense! They are a real world model of life. And you no longer need to yell or put yourself in time out due to anger.
How Does Using Consequences Differ to Punishment as Discipline?
Punishment sets up some form of removal of privilege for inappropriate behavior. It is about a external controls and rules.
Consequences look to teach the child to make choices that are good for everyone, to think for himself and do the right thing because it’s the right thing.
When you punish a child for refusing to turn off the computer you may send him to bed early. When you use consequences you may simply state that because he didn’t shut down at the appointed time, there will be no computer tomorrow night.
Consequences help children learn to take responsibility for their own behavior because they have to live with the consequences of their choices. If I don’t turn off the computer now, I won’t get to play on it later.
When using consequences for disciplining children:
- Your child should be 3 years or older so she can understand the choices
- Consequences must be related to a natural results of an action (or behavior) so that the child learns that their actions translate to, or relate to a result
- You need to provide clear choices for the child- before the behavior whenever possible
- The consequences need to be “do-able” and immediate (the younger the child, the more immediate they need to be).
- You must be consistent and you cannot change your mind- that’s not fair and throws of the part about making sense
- Consequences should happen immediately
- Consequences need to be endorsed and implemented by both parents
- Consequences may not work in the first instance (or the very first time they are implemented) – but over time this strategy is incredibly effective and helps children take responsibility for their own actions.
When setting a consequence before misbehavior has occurred, try to provide a clear indication of what it is that needs to be done and what the choices involve as well as the consequence.
For example: “Remember to pick up your toys before you brush your teeth. If you you don’t pick them up and I have to, you will not get to play with legos tomorrow night
When giving a consequence after an incident, try to deliver it as follows:
For example: “You were throwing your ball in the house even though you know that’s against our rules. Now the lamp is broken. Here’s a broom. You need to clean up the mess, and your allowance will have to go to replacing the lamp.
Sometimes planning consequences that fit the crime is the hardest part, but they are the most effective and easy to use when you have planned them out ahead of time. It’s worth it, give it a try!
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