Sometimes we get too soft in our parenting. We want the best for our children, and we sometimes don’t realize that the best for our child doesn’t always look very pretty. These are called “consequences.” Today I wanted to talk about consequences that make sense for kids. It’s our struggles and our consequences that make us learn and become stronger and more apt to make right decisions. If we don’t have consequences, you might hear this phrase, “Your kid is a brat!” (link goes to one of my previous parenting posts).
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Yes, I definitely believe in rewards, lifting our children up and keeping things positive. Here are 15 positive reinforcement ideas for kids if you want to find techniques to help create the balance. However, I also believe that consequences are a part of life. We need to teach our kids how to live in the real world where our actions, good or bad, have ramifications. We learn from our mistakes. It’s hard that life is like this, but it’s often the pain that brings us to a place where we seek repentance, forgiveness and truly understand our need for God. Further I have heard it said, “It’s the rocks in the bed that give the stream its song.” We too often want to make our children’s lives pain free, not ever teaching them how to, “…rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5. While we have an important role in protecting our children from evil, we should also realize there are times they need to experience consequences and pain in life. We can teach them how to handle it in faith, hope and repentance.
When we are giving consequences to our kids, I think it is very important to give consequences that make sense for the situation. I have found that when parenting in the moment, it’s not always clear at that time. Therefore, I wanted to give you a list of some real examples from our lives to help to start to think along the line of consequences that make sense in certain situations. It will help us mentally prepare for what may come in the future. Many of these are real situations that have happened in our family. Some of these are examples from friends. Some of these are just typical parenting experiences.
One thing I’d like to note is that grace triumphs over mercy. We need to decide when it is appropriate to add consequences for teaching purposes. We must establish what is willful defiance vs. childish irresponsibility. Yes, childish irresponsibility will sometimes need to experience natural or set consequences so kids can learn. However, these consequences will come after multiple infractions and trying to teach through the moment rather than just offer discipline. We often use the phrase, “Try that again,” in our family. When I was in my child psych class in college I remember the teacher giving the example of a child dropping items into the toilet. They were not being willfully defiant. They are little kids who are learning about their world. Most likely, they are curious about the sounds something makes as it lands in the water. They are curious about the splash. They want to see if things sinks and floats. They are exploring. Therefore, we would see that example as part of the “childish irresponsibility” category and teach through it. It becomes willful defiance when you have explained to them them dropping things in the toilet is not appropriate (not to mention sanitary) and there will be a consequence if it happens again.
Further, I want to clarify that we should look at patterns of behavior. If you have a responsible child who normally remembers things for school but once in a blue moon forgets their homework assignment, then it’s definitely appropriate to run it to school. However, if you are dealing with a child who has shown a lot of irresponsibility and forgetfulness in this area, you are doing them no justice by bailing them out every time.
Consequences that Make Sense for Different Parenting Situations
- We have a child who tends to be impulsive and can be destructive. Some of the behavior we see from this includes ripping holes in items, coloring on things and using scissors to cut things that should not be cut. In the past, we have taken items away. What she destroys she no longer has as a possession, and she gets another toy taken away as well. However, I don’t think this has been speaking to her. A consequence we just decided would be a better fit would be getting her to replace the item. She will be working off the cost of the item she just destroyed. I will be having her do extra jobs for me until the item is paid for through her hard work.
- Are your kids not fulfilling their responsibilities at home or in their school work? The natural consequence is that they don’t get time outside of the house doing the extra things until their responsibilities at home are finished. Sometimes these are the hardest to follow through on because we know our kids are missing out on fun things – sports, parties, play dates, etc.
- I have a friend who has older children who set their own alarms and get themselves up in the morning. One daughter wasn’t waking up for school in time, and it was a struggle in the morning to get out the door. One morning, the daughter missed the bus. Her mom made her walk to school. It was a three mile walk to school, so she let her walk a good distance and then drove her the rest of the way. However, the daughter did figure out a way to make the bus rather than needing to walk and receive an unexcused late slip. Yes, it is OK to let your child experienced unexcused late slips and homework penalties because of their negligence.
- I often find huge messes from my children’s explorations. I think that sometimes it feels easier, as a mom, to just clean up the mess. I have found our bathroom covered in water or areas of our house covered in art supplies or toys. Let them clean it up. If they know they are responsible for picking up every little piece of scrap of paper after cutting up an entire sheet of paper for fun, they might consider the process more – like cutting over a recycle bin. I know this is very obvious, but I put it in here because I know I often take the short cut of just cleaning it up because I don’t want to have to worry about the process of making them do it. They need to experience cleaning up after their own messes, spills and mistakes.
- Is your child misbehaving for other adults? This has happened to us, and sometimes the best consequence is helping kids learn to say sorry. I have had my children not only say sorry in person but also write notes to apologize for behavior. It’s hard to say sorry, and going through a process to make that happens speaks volumes to kids. It may mean taking the time to drive back to someone’s house or the school. The process of taking responsibility and learning what forgiveness looks like is such an important lesson for children to learn.
- One things we have experienced is having our children not go to bed easily for a babysitter. Above is a picture of a chart we have on our wall right now. We work at our church in a marriage ministry. It runs later, and we want our kids to get to bed at a reasonable time. Therefore, on those night we have hired a babysitter to come pick the kids up at church and get them in bed. However, it wasn’t working because our kids weren’t cooperating at bed time We explained to our kids that we pay money so they can get to bed before we get home. If they don’t go to bed, they are wasting our money. Therefore, we made a chart. They have to pay us back the money we pay for the time they are not cooperating with the babysitter. They do jobs to earn the money to pay for the sitter.
- Going to bed well tends a challenge for many kids in general. If you have kids that often get out of bed, a trick I learned in teaching is if they take time away from you, you take time away from them. In teaching, I would take away recess time. In parenting, it looks a bit different. If you tend to get them in bed at 7:30 and they keep coming down until 8:00, their bedtime the next night would be 7:00. The evening time, after kids go to bed, is valuable time in marriages as well as re-charging personally. If the kids are sabotaging that time, leading to frustration, they need to understand that you will take the time back in other ways.
- Not following God’s ways is just a part of being human. We sin…all the time….so do our kids. Our goal is that, through the experience of God’s grace and forgiveness we will come to repentance. We want that for our kids as well. We also want to teach them scripture that focuses on specific sins that so easily entangle us. Part of my teaching is to help my kids learn about Gods ways by helping them learn to memorize scripture. Above you see a picture of my daughter memorizing scripture through writing out a verse a number of times. She had been struggling to live at peace with her siblings, and I wanted to find a way to get this scripture in her mind and heart. I have been known to have kids memorize scripture while in time out. I have such a vivid memory of my oldest, in dramatic tone, reciting the verse, “The LORD does not like lying lips, but He delights in man who is truthful. – Proverbs 12:22” when she was struggling with being honest. You might fight a scripture printable helpful like the heart chart at When You Rise or the great scripture resource chart at Doorpost, which I own. This might look like a child saying the verse, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14 when using potty talk. There are any number of verses kids can memorize to tackle the struggles they have in obedience and doing the right thing.
- Are your kids whining and crying to get what they want? If so, I have a post on the topic that you might find helpful. There have been mixed reviews about this idea, and I want to make something perfectly clear. We in no way want to stuff our children’s emotions. We want to give them time to pull it together so we can discuss their feelings in a healthy way. We don’t want our kids to dictate the atmosphere of the home and whine and cry when they don’t get exactly what they want. Therefore, time away is a consequence that makes sense to give them time to get control of their behavior so we can talk through their feelings appropriately.
- We have tried a number of consequences for our issues with our kids continually messing up spaces in the house with a unwillingness to want to help to clean up their stuff. One consequence that makes sense is to take things away, either temporarily or permanently. We have done both. One general rule of thumb is that if your kids can’t keep their toys picked up and taken care of well, perhaps they have too many toys. We have said to our kids, “We have messed up. We have given you too many things, which is obviously not a manageable amount for you. We need to make some choices about what things we are going to give away to kids in need.” We then start the hard process of making decisions about what to get rid of. We try different amounts of stuff until we get to a reasonable load for them to manage. Here’s a post that gives more insight to what that might look like. We have also done the Saturday bin where items are removed in a bin until Saturday, when they can get them back. I have also put confiscated toys in the prize bin. Therefore, a reward becomes getting the toys back that were taken away because they couldn’t care for them properly.
- We recently had an issue with our child’s attitude, respect level and immediate desire to be talking back. We received advice from our good friends the Pritchards, who make their living as family and marital coaches. I want to pass it along in case it’s helpful. First of all, I have to stay positive and calm in the training without getting frustrated – a huge struggle for me, to be candid. The magic phrase for us has been, “Try it again.” Any time there is talking back, whining, sass, etc. I say (in a real upbeat way), “Oh, try that again.” It gets super annoying for them to have to try it again over and over. They learn that it is easier to just interact in a cooperative way the first time. The girls have been learning that they won’t get what they want when they act like that and need to keep trying until they can express themselves appropriately. We try and teach them to say, “Yes, Mom” rather than arguing. If not, “Oh, try again.” I fell into the trap at engaging in the argument, trying to reason, and entertaining negotiations. It just doesn’t work at that age. I had to remove myself emotionally and verbally from the battle, which is so hard to do. Therefore, the consequence is to keep trying until they can get it right.
Was that all too wordy for you? I decided to make a quick glance chart printable to help with these situations and a few more not discussed in depth. You can also work on teaching kids to say please and thank you, teaching kids to share and helping kids handle anger in a healthy way.
A big key to raising kids is to get to their heart on the matters of obedience. If you are a parent working on raising up your children in a way that teaches the truth about God, I want to provide you with a few of our family favorite resources. (affiliate links)
- Jesus Storybook Bible – This is my favorite. I tear up throughout the story, and I am amazed at how beautifully they tell the gospel story and weave Jesus into each story from the creation of the world to the end of the New Testament. I even buy this book for friends who are wanting to learn more about the Christian faith. It tells God’s story in a way that makes so much sense.
- Long Story Short – Ten Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God – This is the Bible Study we are currently doing as a family, and I love it. I love that it ties the Old Testament stories to Jesus, like the “Jesus Storybook Bible.” It is an engaging way to interact with your kids, with questions geared for great discussion. My oldest (age 7) is especially loving it, and it always the one who goes and grabs the book to make sure we get our devotion done. There are 5 lessons a week that take about 10 minutes. It is super manageable and brings a lot of intention into your Christian parenting journey. Even today, my daughter was whining about not getting something her sister was able to get. They had learned about the story of Cain and the word “envy.” It was a great tie in to discussion about her current feelings. Although I haven’t read them, the same author has two other books – Old Story New and The Gospel Bible Story.
- Seeds Worship CDs – These are my favorite kid music CD’s to play in the car. They are not annoying! The music is well composed but straight scripture. My kids have easily memorized scriptures since we have these playing in the car. Here are some of their CD’s: Seeds of Courage, Seeds of Praise, Seeds of Character, Seeds Family Worship
- Grace for the Moment – I haven’t actually gone through this one with my kids, but I have heard great things. It is full of 365 different devotions to last throughout the year. It’s written by Max Lucado, and I tend to love all of his work, so I look forward to doing this one in the future.
Written by my mentors, parents of 11 kids, Parenting with Truth and Grace Series, will quickly become your go-to resource for Christian parenting.
Oh, you have no idea how much I needed to read this! There are several things we already do here. “Try again” is one of my kids’ most hated phrases, but I find that I am using it less and less often lately. It really does work. Even for my four year old. For the older two, we are especially looking at virtues, When my son (7) does something contrary to what I want, I refer him to the virtues poster in our living room and have him read a specific one out loud. I think he will likely have “I am self-controlled” memorized very soon, but having him read the positive statements in response to the negative behavior is slowly sinking it.
I love that you have a virtues poster. What a great idea. It sounds like you are doing well. I have heard there are no quick answers. It is being consistent with this stuff day after day. I am seeing the fruits too. Thanks so much for checking in. I’m glad you are here.
This is a fantastic list and while we’ve been doing a lot of these with our kids already, there are definitely some new tricks to try so thank you for that!
One thing that wasn’t covered and we’ve been really struggling with when dealing with one of our children in particular is honesty. what do you do when your child consistently lies? The natural consequence of us not being able to trust him isn’t enough. He’s 10 and plenty old enough to know better but he still does it. We’ve tried wording our questions as statements when we know exactly what happened to eliminate the opportunities for dishonesty but sometimes we need to know what happened and he simply can’t be trusted. We praise honesty when it happens and have implemented other consequences as we see fit (usually a longer or stronger consequence of whatever poor behaviour the lie surfaced from) but we are really at a loss here. I’d love to hear some suggestions!
Hello – Thanks so much for writing. I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I have written a post on the topic that can be found on Kids Activities Blog (http://kidsactivitiesblog.com/59684/teaching-kids-honest). I hope you find that helpful. He is old enough to know better, so I am wondering what is going on. Is he able to express why he is lying? Afraid to get in trouble? Wants attention? Protecting himself or someone else? Win approval? You’ll want to evaluate the atmosphere of your discipline. Is he lying because he is afraid of how you will react? If you know the truth, I would gently let him know you know the truth. Don’t accuse, but be matter of fact about it. You want your concern to be a heart condition and a voice of love rather than condemnation. Explain why honesty is so important and give him the tools and a atmosphere in which he can be honest, which it sounds like you might already be doing. I try and emphasize with my kids that mistakes are OK and that we don’t expect them to be perfect. I reward and praise honesty like crazy. If you are trying these loving responses, and his habits continue, I would try to remove something that is his currency – TV or screen time, play time with friends, etc. I would reward with those things as well. “You were really honest with me when it must have been hard. I am not going to punish you. I’m actually so proud that step that I want you to be able to invite a friend over this afternoon. You’ve shown me that I can start to trust you.” I hope that’s helpful. I’d love to hear how this progresses.
Love these ideas! We do some of them. Do you have any ideas on the making a mess -> they have to clean it up when they just refuse? My daughter is not quite 4, and that’s what we try but she’s so stubborn. Even if she can’t do x until it’s clean she wont forever unless a battle ensues. 🙂
I can relate to your struggles. I have tried a lot of different methods. I would encourage you to try and keep the mess manageable but having her get out one toy at a time (or one little area of play). Then, to move on to the next activity, she would have to clean up. I would encourage you to help at that age. Play games with it. Set a timer and see if you can beat the time. Give her step by step instructions…pick up this…now this…now this… I would keep it fun rather than annoyed or angry. If she is being stubborn won’t help, I’ve been known just to keep them in that area. “Sorry, you have to be there until it’s cleaned up.” They have spent entire days in their room because of their unwillingness to clean. I can tell you I got a lot of my own “to do” list on those days – lol. I have also told them that they have shown me that we have too much stuff, and we have had to make choices to get rid of stuff to a level they can handle. I hope that’s a help.
Both the article and the above response are SO helpful! Thank you for sharing you faithful wisdom with transparency and grace. Blessings!
I’m so glad this was helpful. I really am happy to share anything I’m learning as we travel this crazy road of parenting. Thanks so much for commenting.
When we ask him why he lies, he says he doesn’t know. And often I believe he might not truly know. We suspect it’s a form of self-preservation for him. He was placed into foster care just after his first birthday and came to live with us just before his third so all we can guess is that it stems from that. Ironically, he has a big need of wanting to please and maybe must think that if he lies so that he won’t get into trouble, then we’ll be pleased that he wasn’t being bad? Except that we are actually smarter than that…lol. I can’t really explain it either and it’s been very difficult getting him to understand that’s not how it works. He’s seen therapists with no great improvement.
The other big problem we have with him is that we haven’t been able to identify his motivator (or currency as you referred to it). Something will maybe work for a while and then just won’t. So we’ll try something else and it will work for a while and then he stops caring about that too.
I do appreciate your suggestions though and will definitely try harder to not let my frustration show through. I especially like how you phrased the last part about praising and being proud and having a friend over as a result of trust earned. I do think he would respond to that. And I’ll definitely take a look at your other article!
I realize I’ve just asked a lot of you, a random stranger, and I very much appreciate the time you’ve taken to help me. Thank you!
I’m sure he has stuff from his early childhood that has impacted him greatly. I know how hard it is to not let frustration show through, and it’s definitely something I’ve been working on big time. I have seen a great change in my daughter as I’ve stayed calming in response. I am glad to give any help I can. I have learned that things don’t change overnight, but I have found with consistency and changing myself the most, I’ve seen more change in them. It’s just hard to be “on” all the time. Check in and let me know how things are going with him.
In no way can I judge your situation or your son, but I am a foster mom as well. I have recently been reading a book (Damaged Angels) about another foster mom’s experiences with adoption and have been touched by it. It may be of encouragement and insight to you too, especially in your current situation – it has brought light to ours and the ones we struggle with! Praying for God to give you strength and encouragement and answers as you walk this tough road!
I love having a conversation on my blog that helps other moms. Thank you, Amy, for weighing in to help Kari-Lynn. I appreciate your grace as you offer up a portion of your experience.
Have you ever heard of Karyn Pervis? She’s a Christian Psychologist who works with kids from hard back grounds , like foster care etc. She has so much wisdom when it comes to dealing with different approaches to help them overcome things like that. One of her resources is empoweredtoconnect.org
Thank you so much for pointing me to this resource. It’s so great to read from the experts. I haven’t heard of her, but I think I would really enjoy her experience and perspective. Looks like she might have some great resources for my friends with adopted or foster kids too. Thanks for commenting.
I would like to reach out and encourage you! Most children go through a season of lying, usually around your son’s age. When I went through it as a 10 year old child myself, I remember not knowing why I wanted to lie, either. While it is serious because it is disobedient to you and to the Lord, and deserves a consequence, know that it will pass. I believe most of it stems from just trying to figure life out, and testing out for themselves if lying is truly good or bad.
I totally agree with you. I know I’m still learning and growing, so it’s amazing that I would ever think my kids had “arrived” in any heart issue or sin in their lives. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I’m sure we’ll be going through all kinds of seasons where they are testing boundaries, figuring out the paths they will choose and learning from their consequences – both positive and negative – both natural and enforced. I really appreciate you weighing in with your perspective. 🙂
I noticed that many of your consequences have a “send them away” idea about them. I cannot disagree more. You have to know that when a child is sent away or sent to his room it would seem to me that every demon in hell is going to accuse them, make them feel horrible, and let them know how horrible they are. If we keep them close and deal with the situation then we can speak into our child’s life – works of encouragement and scripture, telling them who they are and whose they are. I highly recommend Joe McGee Ministries to listen to and learn from.
Thank you so much for giving your opinions. I hear what you are saying, and I’ll have to take some time to consider it. I think it might be particular to individual children. I know that one of mine, especially, needs some space too cool down on her own. She is one who likes to negotiate and try to control a situation. When she has a little time to reflect, the results have been very positive for us. She seems to get particularly wound up being around people and seems to calm on her own. I think she might be an introvert that way. I also find that my other kids take a little bit of time on their own to collect themselves and can come back for positive interaction. When they are a bit more composed, we are more effectively able to really deal with the situation well…like you said with teaching, words of encouragement and scripture. Thanks for weighing in.
Hi There! As a nanny and a college student working toward a degree in elementary education, I really enjoyed this article- HOWEVER: psychologically speaking, you should never punish kids with things you want them to like. Meaning, I’m worried about the way you’re using scripture to teach kids a lesson. While I agree that scripture should be used and is important to how children are raised, it can cause children to have negative feelings toward it, which could later lead them away from God. Take this example: Jimmy loves to read books, he goes through tons a week and reads all the time. One day, Jimmy acts out in class, his parents and teacher choose to have him write a book report as punishment. After completing this assignment, Jimmy no longer reads books because books now trigger the bad thoughts and feelings associated with punishments. I would hate for kids to feel this way about the Bible- it’s so important for them to love that book especially! (you can look up ‘Classical Conditioning’ if you’d like to read more about this)
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and insights so respectfully. I totally hear what you are saying, and it’s given me a lot to think about. I have seen other parents model this, and their kids do grow up loving scripture and the Lord. Using them as my role models has led me to adopt this technique. However, I completely see your points here and will take some more time to consider what you have said. Ultimately, I want to get to their hearts and understand the reason behind why we obey. Thank you.
Just so you know, I’m very on the fence about this too- I want my girls to understand where my rules and reasons are coming from- but I do worry about giving them a bad impression. I’m not trying to tell you what you should do (particularly because I’m not a parent and really have can’t understand that completely until I am one myself), but personally after thinking about it some more I think when I have children of my own I may punish them and after the upset feelings and emotions have passed then I’ll show them a verse or passage and have them think and talk about it (maybe with some guidance) so that they can see and reach the conclusion (mostly) on their own. 🙂 Merry Christmas! Thanks for the article!
You are a genius.
Hahaha! Pretty sure that’s far from the truth, but I really appreciate your kind words. Glad you enjoyed the post and found it helpful!
I truly encourage people to move away from rewards and punishment as discipline for children. Children are very smart and know how to perform for a reward. I have worked in education for 20 years and have seen first hand how rewards do not work especially because you keep having to up the reward so it starts out with candy or a toy car and then as children age it becomes an Ipad. I have used a program call Conscious Discipline where prompts children and adults for that matter to internalize behavior. So children are not performing for a reward they are doing thing because it is the right thing to do. I encourage people to check it out, it really does work. Conscious Discipline by Becky Bailey I wish I would have known about it when I first started teaching.
Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response to my article. It sounds like an interesting book that I’ll need to check out. I do agree that we need to get to our kids hearts and internalize behavior. That is the ultimate goal. However, I also see the benefit of teaching through rewards and consequences. After all, life often operates like that. We see real rewards and real consequences as we navigate life as an adult too. That said, I mostly want my kids to operate because of an internal knowledge of what is right and wrong and what feels good to the heart. If we only reach their behavior without capturing their heart, they will turn away from our teaching. Therefore, I see it as a dance between all three. I’ll put it on my “to read” list.
Kids aren’t sinners! Matthew 18:3 and [Jesus]said, “Truly I say to you, unless you [b]are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
I applaud you for trying to learn more reasonable methods of raising children than the punitive methods we all know are damaging; however, the attitude makes all the difference.
If we think of kids as “sinners” and “willfully defiant” that makes such a difference in our home atmosphere vs. thinking of kids as “learning” and “needing my help”.
I recommend Dr. Laura Markham’s book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, and her site, ahaparenting.com
Thank you so much for commenting! I am glad to engage in this conversation. I do believe the Bible tells us to become like children. Children do have an air of innocence, but I don’t believe that is what is being discussed here. After all, being “good” doesn’t get anyone into heaven. “How Good is Good Enough” is a short and wonderful read on that topic.
The Bible teaches that “ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” – Romans 3:23 I see the Bible teaching that sin entered the world and thus each member of humanity when the first sin happened in Genesis. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” – Psalm 51:5. Also, Romans 5:12 says, “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death resulted from sin, therefore everyone dies, because everyone has sinned.” Here’s a good article on the topic.
I don’t need to be around children for long to see that the selfishness, pride, and rebellious heart is in them too. I do think kids are “learning” and “needing my help.” However, what kids need to understand most is their nature. We can’t train them to be “good.” We have to get to their hearts. Being good doesn’t get us into heaven. What I want my kids to know is that they can never be good enough. It’s through the understanding of God’s grace and mercy despite our sinful nature that we develop a love and appreciation for Christ and what he did for us on the cross. Therefore, our actions are changed because of a heart condition of thankfulness.
That said, I believe we also need to teach our kids that there are consequences for our behavior. I also have written an article about trying to establish between “willful disobedience” and “childish irresponsibility” (https://meaningfulmama.com/2012/04/day-109-tip-distinguish-between-willful.html) so we know how to approach the situation.
Thanks again for taking the time to comment. We obviously have a different stance on the topic but the same heart to do well be our kids.
This is a great post and I’ve shared it with my daycare families. I listened to Dr Dobson oh maybe 15 years ago when I was a nanny and found myself yelling a lot more than I cared to do and one of the things they suggested to stop that little whirlpool was to 1) when every one is calm explain that you were no longer going to yell at them. 2) Let them know you expected them to answer you or obey you after the 1st call (unless you think possibly they couldn’t hear you) and 3) always follow thru. This worked like a charm for me. Consequences were always mentioned before going somewhere and followed through immediately. It made life so much easier.
Regarding “Interrupting” – it’s important to remember kids do not remember very well. Neither do we. It’s important to teach kids respect by respecting them. If I have a child interrupting I use a finger to my lips to let them know they need to wait quietly beside me and I often squeeze their shoulder or play with their hair so they know I’m aware they have something to tell me. When there is a lull in the conversation I then turn to them with a smile and ask how I can help them. Prior to using this method I explain to them what the signal means and what they need to do and that if someone is hurt or going to hurt someone else they are ok to interrupt me. (be sure to have a conversation about what tattling is and what is an emergency – they don’t know this unless you tell them.)
I do have a question…. how do you stop the screaming that little girls do? I have a 4 year old that is driving me crazy. Friday I kept telling her to stop the screaming, I’ve explained to her what an inside voice is and she knows what it is. She had 3 time outs in the AM – 2 of which was at the humane society where we had gone to see the animals after licensing our cat. I’ve tried telling her “no talking” which she ignores. I sent her to sit on my bed and think about the rule and she just sat in there and giggled and continued screaming & squealing. I cannot send her outside to squeal and scream as a consequence as I feel that’s a bit mean and I also don’t feel it’s safe for a 4 year old in a big city to be outside alone. I also know that yes, she is a girl & girls squeal & scream a lot – but I need help. How do I stop this???
Hello. I love what you learned from Dr. Dobson. That’s such good stuff and so right on, in my opinion. I like what you said about interrupting too. I have my kids put their hand on my leg to let me know they need my attention, and I put my hand on theirs to let them know I understanding you need me, and I”ll get to you when I can. It works well to.
Ooo – Screaming. That’s a really good question. I have girls who scream, but I just tell them to stop or head upstairs. For us, we have a kid zone upstairs where I send the toys or noises that are driving me crazy. One technique I use to get my kids quieter is to talk softly and intensely. If possible, I would give her a space to get the screams out and then just try and engage her so that her focus is on something else. If you come up with anything else brilliant, let me know.
Hi! I came across your blog post tonight and was intrigued to read your list of suggestions for difficult behavior. Definitely agree with the ‘natural consequences’ you listed above! May I also add to the suggestions our own website, http://www.moti-venture.com? We use adventures to motivate kids to better attitudes and behavior based on a simple point system. Fun can be a powerful motivation, and we use that leverage to help to eliminate nagging, bribing, and arguing. 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing. It’s great to have other resources like this.
I really enjoyed your post because there are so many real world consequences that will help children in the future. However, it is important to realize this is behavior shaping. A consequence is anything that follows a behavior, therefor shaping the behavior. Reinforcement increases behavior and punishment decreases behavior. You are describing punishment procedures in this post but referring to each as a consequence. I think it is very important to make this clear to your readers that consequences are what shape the behavior and it is important to reinforce good behaviors to increase and punish bad behaviors to decrease. We can’t just refer to punishment as “consequences” because rewards are consequences too. Children engage in good behaviors because of the consequences too. That’s just my two cents as a professional in the behavior field 🙂
Thank you so much for weighing in. I am so sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. Trying to balance everything is just hard sometimes, and I’ve had this comment sitting for a while because I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I totally get what you are saying. It’s hard looking back because I feel like I’d have to re-write the entire post to nail that word down for exactly what it means – consequences being both positive and negative results of behaviors. In the end, I think the main point to equip parents with some “punishments that fit the crime” comes across. Therefore, I think I’ll just leave your comment and hope that people read here to better understand the full meaning of the word consequence. Thank you so much for your kind feedback.
So my comment has to do with the inpulsive, destructive behavior. My daughter has this same tendancy and I just don’t get it. It baffles me and frustrates me to no end. MOST OF THE TIME it isn’t something that can be rectified simply by working off the money to cover the cost of a new one, because it is either worthless to begin with like my to-do list for the day or something complicated like the title to the car. She’s 10 and this has always been an issue. She has etched her name into the wood banister in the home we were renting, she has colored on her bed, she cuts up bills into tiny people. I have yet to find a consequence that actually resonates. If there is a pair of scissors and a piece of paper in the same vicinity, it will be cut up. If there is a pen, it will be written all over. I’m open to suggestions, even to what is going on in her head. I love this post it is exactly what I was looking for today. Thank you for sharing.
Hello, Erica. Thanks so much for writing. I completely can relate to everything you are saying. Are we raising the same kid? That said, I do feel like it is getting better for us. I do have the consequence of working to pay off whatever has been damaged. I also admit that my frustration comes out in the wrong time with anger, which I am working on. I really feel when I’m handling the consequence in a calm way and yet still with authority and discipline, there is a better response. I have tried to communicate to my daughter that I am on her team and want to give her a good outlet for her needs. If she needs to cut something up, scribble on something or carve something, I encourage her to talk to me so we can figure out a more controlled way to be destructive. I often say to her, “I am on your team. Talk to me about it first.” I try and give her creative outlets as well. I am curious if you have looked into sensory needs. I know this has been an issue for my daughter, so I am also trying to equip her there. For her, she does better with her destructive behavior when her oral needs are taken care of. We have a water bottle with a silicone top like this http://goo.gl/cTI8yq (affiliate) and a silicone chewable necklace like this http://goo.gl/gFmLXA (affiliate). These seems to calm these other needs. She was going to town on her nails, clothes, blankets, etc., so we figured why not give her something she couldn’t destroy. I think it’s helping in terms of her other impulsive/destructive behaviors. I hope that helps. Hang in there, Mama. Let me know if I can help in any other way.
Thank you so much for this. I love the try again and waiting 5mins to interact again. Thank you so much!!xxxx
I’m so glad you find this helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I hope you have a lot of success!
While I would agree with most of this (natural consequences can be very good motivators) I would respectfully disagree with the bedtime issues. I can understand the one about the babysitter. But if I’m at home with my children I would handle bedtime different. We had A LOT of trouble with bed time! The kids were getting consequences of earlier bedtimes the next day, and even though we’d remind them, “today’s early bedtime is because of last night’s behavior” inevitably we’d have struggles with bedtime on the consequence night, and so we just had unending early bedtime. It wasn’t working. It wasn’t an immediate consequence and so my 6 & 5 year old weren’t getting it. HOWEVER when we switched to “no bedtime” the kids started naturally going to sleep at our “bedtime” without being prompted! It took some work, and some guidelines, but now the kids just go to their room and are usually asleep by 8PM every night; no nagging, no fighting, no struggles. There are A LOT of blogs out there about moms who’ve tried “no bedtime” with great success – if you’re interested I’m sure you can find some amazing advice!
I have heard of that and was thinking about trying it this summer. Maybe you are my motivation. I have a night owl that I’ve found up at midnight and beyond. She doesn’t tend to sleep in later and then is cranky, so I have this fear that she’ll never go to bed and then won’t be able to handle life the next day. I’ll have to think it through some more. Thanks for your feedback.
This article is right on time for us. God answered the prayer of my heart this morning. At 6:30, my 3 yr old decided to lock his bedroom door and the bathroom door from the outside. Then as soon as I’m occupied with removing the doorknobs, my husband begins his routine yelling while the boys scream and cry to get what they want. With every turn of my screwdriver I thought to myself, we’re headed for trouble if something does not change.
The boys are young so we often just figure that these are the growing pains of living with toddlers but these simply yet effective tools you speak of, they can be better behaved children even now at 1 and 3. I long to be that mom with a calm, collected child by my side at the bank or while in line at the checkout. I don’t want to always play my kids with drinks and snacks and gadgets, but to motivate them with good and bad consequences for behavior. After all, life is about consequences at any age. So many of us new moms don’t know what we’re doing wrong until it’s too late. Thank you for this! I’m subscribing today!
This article is right on time for us. God answered the prayer of my heart this morning. At 6:30, my 3 yr old decided to lock his bedroom door and the bathroom door from the outside. Then as soon as I’m occupied with removing the doorknobs, my husband begins his routine yelling while the boys scream and cry to get what they want. With every turn of my screwdriver I thought to myself, we’re headed for trouble if something does not change.
The boys are young so we often just figure that these are the growing pains of living with toddlers but with these simple yet effective tools, they can be better behaved children even now at 1 and 3. I long to be that mom with a calm, collected child by my side at the bank or while in line at the checkout. I don’t want to always ply my kids with drinks and snacks and gadgets, but to motivate them with good and bad consequences for behavior. After all, life is about consequences at any age. So many of us new moms don’t know what we’re doing wrong until it’s too late. Thank you for this! I’m subscribing today!
Thank you so much for writing, and I am so glad this post came at a perfect time. God knew what you needed! I feel humbled to be a part of it. Parenting is just plain hard! It takes consistency…all…the…time. My kids are now 8, 6 and 4. Although it is not perfect, I feel like I’m FINALLY seeing the results of my labor. I did see fruit throughout when I was on top of things in parenting, but now I feel like it’s sinking in. I know that is a long time off for you, but hang in there. Here are some of the posts I wrote with tools that helped me most: https://meaningfulmama.com/2015/05/reward-and-consequence-behavior-chart.html, https://meaningfulmama.com/2014/12/theres-attitude-problem-house.html, https://meaningfulmama.com/2014/07/day-1-tip-of-day-happy-heart.html, https://meaningfulmama.com/2012/01/day-17-tip-try-that-again.html and https://meaningfulmama.com/2012/01/day-4-tip-of-day-yes-mommy.html. I hope that helps get you started. I’ve had such great mentors and have felt so blessed by that that part of my motivation for starting the blog was to pass along the information I have received because I have felt so lost at times in this job. Blessings on your journey.
What wonderful ideas!!! I am an educator with three children and have completed a variety of parenting courses. But I absolutely love your practical, God-inspired ideas! Could you give me some idea of how I should address sibling fighting. They always seem to blame each other which makes a fair ruling (and consequence) very difficult.
Hello! Thanks so much for your sweet words. Sibling fighting. Isn’t that fun?! 🙂 I’ll tell you some of the phrases we use and things we do in my family. One thing I like to remember is that they are sinful and human, so they will fight. We have good days and bad days around here, but I’d say that is just natural for any human beings trying to get along. That said, we need to teach them through it, right. Based on what I just said, we always want it to come back to the gospel message. It’s important to restore relationships by going through the process of asking for forgiveness and forgiving after there has been a disagreement or they’re treating each other poorly. Another thing we says is, “Relationships are more important than things.” We will take away objects they are fighting over. You often saying, “Be a peacemaker” or asking, “Who is going to stand up and be the peacemaker here.” Often one of them in the conflicts wants to rise up. In terms of blaming each other, one of the tricks I do if they are pitted against each other, and you can’t figure out who is telling the truth is to have them hold hands in one spot (the stairs in our house) until the guilty one is willing to come forward with the truth. That works for us. Another thing I want to make sure to do is ask a lot of questions. One will say, “Abby hit me.” I always ask, “What did you do to her?” Often they are both in the wrong. Someone started with the wrong thing and one responded the wrong way, so I have to address both. Some also say to separate them if they are fighting. I’ll do that if I really feel like they just need some alone time. More often, however, I’ll put them together and say, “This is one of the most important relationships you will ever have, so you are (fill in the blank – in this room, doing this puzzle, playing a game together, etc.) until you can figure out how to get along together. If they’ve said something mean, I’ll have them say 3 nice things to try and replace it. Those are the things that come to mind right away. Make sure to write back if you want clarification. I really hope it helps. It’s going to be a process, especially if your kids are still young. I think the more tools we give them young, the better the relationships will be later in life.
Hi there! I’m really enjoying your website as a resource for parenting my two young sons. I’m planning to use the clip chart you have, but I’m curious, what are some examples of jobs you have your kids do for a consequence? I’m honestly at a loss coming up with ideas of my own. I have a 1st grader and a 2nd grader. My older son tends to be impulsive and rude, so I expect that he will “clip down” frequently. What are some jobs you have in your arsenal? Thanks for your time and effort in putting this together!
Hey there. Thanks so much for reaching out. I’m so glad you are here and finding my content helpful. I know it’s not always easy! Here are some of the jobs I use: dust the baseboards, clean out a drawer, put away the laundry, empty the dishwasher, pick up a room, dust a room, help fold the laundry, weed a portion of the flower beds or simply say, “What’s next mom,” until they have done an adequate amount. I hope that helps.