The Solution Isn't Just Bigger Consequences

Some problems that children face are more difficult than others. Annoying behavior, habitual teasing, and explosive anger are just a few examples. Out of frustration, some parents think that the child needs bigger and bigger consequences. They believe that the bigger the consequence, the faster the change.

Remember that the goal is a changed heart, not just punishment for doing wrong. A larger consequence may be needed to get the child's attention but the real work takes place by helping children adjust the way they think and the patterns of behavior that have developed over time. Often many small corrections are more effective than one large consequence.

Mature people will feel an internal pain when they discover that they’ve made a mistake or done the wrong thing. This is normal and healthy. Your child may not experience that same inner sense yet. Consequences create a kind of pain for children. This pain can motivate right behavior and get them moving in a helpful direction.

One example of this is the parent who decided to take away the privilege of riding a bike from her nine-year-old son. She said, "Son, I'm not taking the bike away for a set number of days. I'm taking the bike away until I see some progress in the way you're treating me when I call you in for dinner. We'll see how you do for the next few days and when I get a good response then we can talk about you having your bike again." Mom turned the discipline around so that the child had to earn back the privilege. She wanted to see several positive change points before she allowed her son to ride his bike again.

Kids often need a multi-faceted approach to help them change. Teaching about sensitivity, self-control, respect or another quality will also go a long way to help children change their minds and thus free them to change their hearts as well.

What are some practical ways you've been about to teach through consequences?
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Milan Tomic

Hi. I’m Designer of Blog Magic. I’m CEO/Founder of ThemeXpose. I’m Creative Art Director, Web Designer, UI/UX Designer, Interaction Designer, Industrial Designer, Web Developer, Business Enthusiast, StartUp Enthusiast, Speaker, Writer and Photographer. Inspired to make things looks better.

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5 comments:

  1. As a child care worker, I sometimes think of a big consequence to make my kids stop wrong behavior. However, thinking about my own character flaws that God is still working and also the doctrine of the fall, I realized that I should not expect consequences to suddenly change my kids. I am thinking of one of my girls who constantly tries to get out through her window when she is upset. I give her stronger reprimands but it only makes me angrier and makes her escalate (become more aggressive). I think next time I will just use one consequence (taking away her outside priveleges) and use it over and over so she knows at least that her behavior is not tolerated. What do you think?

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  2. This idea is so good for my three year old and bedtime issues. I know this is typical behavior, and that she is young, but it's very frustrating. I am at a loss as to what small consequences I can have for her every time she gets out of bed.

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  3. Emmanuel, yes, I think a smaller consequence used more often is effective. When we use a large consequence we call it "creating a crisis." That also works. A crisis is sometimes helpful but some parents use a crisis too often and it loses its effectiveness. When you create a crisis you have two things to remember. First, you get to change the rules. That is, cut off internet, stop the cell phone, require counseling or whatever you choose. The second is that a crisis often provides you with one significant conversation. Very important. Many parents waste their one conversation by yelling at the child. Much more can happen on a heart level if this conversation is handled well. Those are just a couple of thoughts.

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  4. I think this was very helpful. We are struggling on getting our two older boys, 5 & 4, and their younger 2-year old sister motivated to get ready (change, brush, fold pajamas, etc.) in the AM. Upon waking, they like to 'play'... pretend, drawing, jumping on the bed, acting a little overhyper, slamming doors. Not any focus on getting ready for their school & our work. Sometimes, it ends with tears and frustration for all. This AM was quite crazy. We thought that perhaps we will take away the privilege (though we paid $ for it) of t-ball games/practice until they start to show that they can responsibly get ready (they have shown that they can get ready in the AM's). They do not get a lot of privileges as it is, but we know they value this. I am realizing that we can give some acceptable regular privileges so that these can be used as tools in such situations. Is this the right idea?

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  5. Hi Betty,
    I like it that that you're trying to teach your preschoolers to be responsible. I can imagine that trying to get out in the morning with three children, 5 and under, would make any morning crazy! There are two character qualities that preschoolers should be working on: Self control and Responsiveness to authority. These are skills they'll need for the rest of their lives, and should be learned in the preschool years. I would suggest a positive approach for teaching. Your kids need to practice following instructions and reporting back. What you want is an instruction routine that you use every time you have a task for one of them. In fact, you'll want to practice following instructions in the afternoons and evenings, just to develop the skills.

    Removing a privilege may not help your child develop the skills necessary to stay on task in the morning, especially if that privilege is later in the day. Preschoolers need immediate praise or correction when you use those tools. But I would suggest that T-ball is a great activity for developing self control and responsiveness to authority. I wouldn't be inclined to remove that privilege, but rather take advantage of it.

    Preschoolers learn through repetition. If you begin the instruction by holding their hands, look in their eyes, give the instruction, and then have them report back when they're done. You will see kids develop these two important qualities. Be sure to check their work to, so you can praise them for their obedience. If you want more ideas about a good instruction routine, head back to our website, and type in "Instruction Routine."

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