Let’s talk about consequences…

by Linda Michie, Executive Director and Founder at Wishing Well Adoption & Family Services

With great wisdom, we, as a culture, have begun to move away from punishment as the main staple of parenting.

Parenting Tips about Consequences from Wishing Well Families, Virgina BeachWe’ve moved almost entirely away from corporal punishment, having learned that this was a least effective way to change behavior and a most effective way to cause a host of other problems. We can talk specifically about what the research has shown on that another day. Today I’d like to talk about punishments. Most of the parents I work with use “time out” and “grounding” as their gotos. I’d like to talk about some more imaginative and effective ways to teach children that there are consequences for their actions.

I’d like to start off by saying that most actions have natural consequences and parents often need to do little more than pointing them out, and that’s only necessary if the child hasn’t figured that out already.

Some important things about consequences that work:

  1. The consequence for an action must be known ahead of time. This gives the child the chance to weigh their options and make a choice.
  2. If consequences are used as a way to change a behavior, the child must understand the connection between the behavior and the consequence.
  3. Consequences must be reasonable and in proportion to the offense.

Remember, we’re not controlling their behavior, just inspiring them to make a choice.

I’m a big fan of posting things on the refrigerator when you have kids. After you’ve discussed the actions that will be taken after an undesired behavior occurs, you can post the actions so children can go and check and make sure they really want to pay that price beforehand. Example:

Yelling at little brother = doing little brother’s chores that day (as a way to make amends)
Fighting in the car = have to pull over (for safety) or even go home (maybe missing activity)

Most important! We have to be willing to follow through on our consequences!

Our children will need to be told that threatening and warning are things from the past. Once the children know what the consequences for their actions will be, threatening and warning only serve to give them permission to do the behavior once or twice. Too Confusing!!!!!

If you find that a certain consequence is not preventing a behavior you can always up the ante, but only after you’ve discussed it with the kids and explained why.

Good luck! Get creative. Use your imagination. Try something that’s never been done before. Ask your kids what they think a fair consequence would be. They often have wonderful ideas.

And if you decide you need a coach in Hampton Roads, call (757) 739-2118 and set up an appointment for any services that apply to your family.

Linda Michie

Linda Michie

Executive Director and Founder at Wishing Well Adoption & Family Services
Linda Michie holds a Master's degree in Urban Studies, and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Old Dominion University.
Linda has worked in the child welfare field since 1999 and is a Licensed Child Placing Agent.
Wishing Well assists in domestic adoptions in the state of Virginia, and provides parenting coaching, and supervised visitation in Virginia Beach, VA.
Linda Michie

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