Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Consequences Part 1

When rules are broken, consequences must come into play for our actions. When we set up rules and consequences for our children, there are some important tips to keep in mind. To be most effective, consequences should be logically tied to the misbehavior. This can take some creativity, but will help parents steer away from physical punishment and will allow children to learn the appropriate lessons from the mistakes that they make. The following is an example of a logical consequence: if your child doesn't put their dirty clothes in the hamper, then they will not have clean clothes to wear to school.

Using logical consequences teaches responsibility and decision-making. The situation itself provides the lesson and helps children develop accountability. Coming up with logical consequences takes more creativity than just using a spanking or timeout for every misbehavior, but in the long run it will be much more productive and effective. You might even get your children involved in coming up with appropriate consequences. They will sometimes surprise you with consequences harsher than your own.

When children help come up with consequences for misbehavior, they will most likely have a better understanding of the rules and the actions that will follow from breaking the rules. When setting up consequences also keep in mind the options of withdrawing privileges or setting up an opportunities to make restitution. It is also important that parents take time to let their children know why the behavior was wrong and what they would like to see in the future. Consequences to broken rules should be set into motion promptly after misbehavior in order to be most effective. The following is a list of five different scenarios. I would encourage you to go through and see if you can come up with a logical consequence for each of the following:
  • Teenager late for curfew
  • 10-year-old pestering younger sibling
  • 8-year-old refusing to do homework
  • 4-year-old is whining
  • 2-year-old is throwing blocks
I will include my ideas of appropriate consequences in next Wednesday's post. Please share your own ideas and questions about incorporating logical consequences.

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