A Thought from Dr. Scott Turansky...
I’m noticing a pattern in some families that some parents move to consequences too quickly. I wonder what you think of this idea?
They see a child doing the wrong thing and they yell, “If you don’t stop that, I’ll . . .” and off they go into consequences to motivate change. Keep in mind that there’s a finite number of consequences available to you as you train your child. If you overuse them, they wear out.
For example, one alternative besides consequences to help children move from negative patterns to positive ones is to practice doing the right thing. If a child can’t follow a simple instruction without resistance, then maybe practicing following instructions would be more effective at changing the pattern.
It’s easy to tell kids to stop doing the wrong thing or to assume they learn to do what’s right based on the correction you’ve just given, but actually practicing the right response goes a long way in helping children make lasting changes. Something happens when a child replays the situation and does it the right way. It may look forced and seem as though you’re just going through the motions, but sometimes that’s just what’s needed to help kids make the connection for the next times of life.
When kids have deeply rooted weaknesses, practicing the right thing can help change patterns. One mom had her five-year-old son stop three times a day to do kind things for others. At first he was resistant, but she made it fun, and he became creative with the project. A dad set up a plan with his fifteen-year-old daughter so that in exchange for trips to the mall, she’d look for ways to encourage Mom instead of fight with her. He was just trying to teach her that a family is a two-way street.
When you do use a consequence like removing a privilege, then keep in mind that it rarely is helpful to set a time limit on a consequence. It’s usually best to tie the return of the privilege to positive actions. In essence you’re telling your child, “Show me that you can do the right thing, and then I’ll allow you to have that privilege again.”
Kids often need help to grow and change. Correction is just one of the tools God gave to help us learn in life. Require positive action to demonstrate change, and children will mature faster and learn more healthy responses.
Do you agree?