One parenting tip I’ve learned in the past 12 years of parenting is the power of eliminating time limits from consequences. What does that mean? I’ll unpack it for you a bit after revealing some struggles in our family right now.
Eliminating Time Limits from Consequences
I’ve been blessed with creative, independent, strong-minded individuals who are going to change the world – some day. That is, if we can rear those amazing qualities into positive contributions to their community.
We work on self-control, obedience and humility (as well as 49 other traits) in our character development series. If the word “obedience” rubs you wrong, I’d love for you to read the reasoning behind teaching this quality here.
Sometimes, however, other parts of life overwhelm and things start to slide. The past few months have been insanely busy and inconsistent. While there have been some wonderful, joyous times, there has also been a slip in behavior.
Disrespect has run rampant. They have neglected our family verse, “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” – Romans 12:10.
This disrespect has shown itself in both disrespect of us, the parents, and also has resulted in sibling fighting.
Beyond that, the volume level is completely out of control. Everyone loves to hear their own voice. They are not exercising the humility and self-control needed to consider those around them.
Obedience is out the window. We ask them to contribute to the family, and they fight it.
The results have been continued consequences and frustration for all. This technique has been one of my favorites for consequences.
While I love that technique, it has lost some of its effectiveness. As a parent, I’m a huge proponent of switching things up when a certain technique loses its potency.
Thus, our discussion today: Eliminating Time Limits from Consequences.
A Quick Wholistic Overview of Parenting Techniques
Let’s just clarify, as with all parenting techniques, relationship is the foundation for good discipline. Being loving and warm yet firm and authoritative is the best parenting style according to John Medina, author of Brain Rules for Babies.
Brain Rules for Baby (Updated and Expanded): How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to FiveBrain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School
In a wholistic approach to parenting, discipline needs to be part of the equation.
The Technique: Eliminating Time Limits from Consequences
I learned this concept from my parenting mentors, parents of 11, the Pritchards of Axis Ministries.
It’s the same technique I used when the kids were younger, and I needed a way to combat the whining and crying. This method has worked wonders for us.
Time to expand the idea now that the kids are older.
Whether you are raising children or teenagers, eliminating time limits from consequences is a great strategy to get the positive behaviors you seek.
The goal when giving this discipline is to remain calm and keep emotions out of it. While remaining in control, the parent or guardian will say something along the lines of, “There has been a lot of fighting between you siblings. We need to get that under control before we can hang out with friends.” Period. Don’t belabor it.
The next time they come to you and say, “Mom, can I go over to John’s house,” remind them, “Oh man. I wish you could. Remember how we have to get the relationship with your sibling right before we can introduce friends into the picture?”
Again, remain calm and in control (seriously the hardest part for me!). Don’t fight it when they get angry back. Just affirm that you have faith they can figure out how to get along.
You may still need to give other consequences – a job, a loss of a beloved item, time to themselves, etc. However, there’s an overlying objective to be able to get the character qualities and life they desire.
Here’s another example: Your child has been disrespectful to you.
Dad says, “You haven’t been showing us respect, so until we can get that in order, you have no video games.”
It isn’t, “You lost video games for the day.” The goal is to correct the behavior. Therefore, the reward (video games in this incidence) is reliant on a behavioral change (respect).
There can be brief reminders, not hounded upon, and with the goal of staying calm in the midst of the reminder.
It might look something like this: “I want you to be able to play video games again. I know how much you love them. You might not realize how that sounded, but it was disrespectful. Let’s try it again.”
I recognize there is some ambiguity to this method, and it will need to be left to your discretion as to how much time shows a change of attitude.
We have had kids be able to turn it around quickly – within a few days. At other times, there have been prolonged consequences. I try and error on the side of grace when I see the change occur. However, behavior change doesn’t happen overnight, so for us, it would be longer than one day.
If they have great behavior for a day, praise them. Let them know they are on the right and quick path for the consequence to be lifted.
What is great about this method is that it gives them complete control over how long the consequence remains. It’s all based on their willingness to change behaviors.
Parenting isn’t easy, and it does take a variety of techniques. Addressing issues consistently and lovingly with both grace and firmness is the key.
Blessings as you are tackling one of the biggest challenges and joys of your life.