Using consequences is the best discipline strategy to use in training children how to mange themselves, learn responsibility and be accountable for the choices they make. It relates to what you have probably heard from your parents growing up. ‘Experience is the best teacher’. When you experience something it means much more to you than hearing or reading about it. Think about going skydiving. You could do all the research in the world but until you are standing on the wing of the plane there is no way to know how it feels to get ready to jump.
This is the same principle that works to train children to make good choices and to learn from the consequences of those choices. Consequences that just happen as a result of doing something or not doing something are called natural consequences.
If Jane doesn’t eat her supper, she will be hungry when it is time for bed. If Alice leaves her toys outside and it rains she won’t have them replaced. If Sean doesn’t turn in his homework, his teacher will apply her rules.
Sometimes a situation would not be safe if natural consequences were allowed to happen. If John can’t play in the yard without running into the street, mom must create a logical consequence to his lack of cooperation. In this example, he must come in and not be allowed to play in the front yard if he cannot obey the rules.
Consequences have very different results than punishment. They allow children to experence the result of their actions. Children learn to think through their actions before they act. Because they allow choice, children feel in control of their actions and this enhances their self-esteem.
Consequences show respect. Your child has the TV on loud and is enjoying the show. But you have to make a phone call. You don’t yell at her to turn it down but say you see that she is enjoying her show but could she please turn down the volume so you can make your call.
Consequences fit the ‘crime’. When your teen misses curfew you don’t take away his iPod. You say you missed curfew, so you cannot go out this week. You can try again next week. Consequences are about the behavior that needs correction not about how bad the child is.
Consequences are about the here and now. They avoid the need to go over past mistakes or accuse the child of ‘always’ being late or ‘always’ being messy.
Consequences are firm and friendly. They are imposed without anger and hostility.
Consequences allow the child to make a choice. When two brothers are going at each other at the dinner table, instead of yelling at them to knock it off, you can say please leave the table and when you are ready to settle down you can join the family for dinner.
To set consequences you can: When you give choices, plan to accept the choice your child makes within the limits you set. Make sure you allow the consequence to happen. Your child can change his choice at a later date. If the misbehavior happens again, make the child wait longer before he can make another try.
It can be strange at first to start using logical and natural consequences as the backbone to a discipline strategy. It can be helpful to have a structure such as an online parenting class to help you get started and become proficient in the model.