Discipline – Enforcing Consequences

It’s time once again for Heather from Family Volley to share with us some Parenting Tips as part of her “Parenting Tips” here on The Idea Room. I realize that today is a Wednesday and usually Heather’s series runs every other Thursday here on The Idea Room. I had to make a little rearrangement this week so you get her a day early! Here’s Heather in her own words…

–Amy

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Parenting is hard. Especially when we have to discipline. Our kids will make mistakes, and we will have to enforce consequences. 


Although there isn’t a cookie cutter consequence for every situation or misstep, there are some important guidelines that will really help us as parents.

The most important thing to remember…Don’t EVER, EVER withhold love as a consequence. When a child gets in trouble they will often rush in for a hug and for affection. Don’t refuse them. Give them the hug, show affection and love and then enforce the consequences. 

Other important suggestions…
  • Make it clear before the misbehavior happens, that there are consequences for bad behavior. The time to talk about it is when no one is doing anything wrong. When kids are young, they often don’t know they have done anything wrong until they get in trouble. Set clear consequences if the expectations are not met.
  • Do not use physical force as a response to physical misbehavior. Example, if your child hits you, don’t hit them back. This is especially confusing to small children. A child will process the situation as “You just told me not to hit and then you hit me, I don’t understand”. In the long run it will not teach the right lesson. 
  • After you give a warning to your child, if the behavior doesn’t immediately change, clearly state the consequence and then enforce it. There is no need for you to justify, explain, or negotiate. Enforce the consequences and then explain later when things have calmed down. 
  • Don’t give idol threats. If you say “if you yell at me again you will go to your room,” and they yell at you again, You Better send them to their room. I learned this the hard way with our daughter. After an idol threat, she looked at me and said, …” you said that last time, but you didn’t do it.” Yikes. Learned my lesson that day. Now I make sure to follow through. 
  • Don’t give in. Enforce the consequence. Giving in sends the wrong message. Your kids won’t ever take you seriously if you don’t enforce the consequence. 
  • When appropriate, you can allow your kids to have a say in their punishment. Make sure they are reasonable and adequate. 
  • When trying to establish consequences, first consider the offense. A good place to start is asking yourself, “what would right the wrong?” Then consider “what would teach the correct principle the child needs to learn?”
  • If you like to use time-out, consider the Time-Out Rule: 1 minute in time-out for every year your child is old. (A five year old=5 minutes). Don’t use time-outs for children under 3.
Now that we have some general suggestions, here are three specific things that can be done when you need a consequence. 

1. Loss of Privilege.
Take a minute or two and think about each of your children. What do they value? What means the most to them?

For our son, it is television time.
For our daughter it is playing with friends and running errands with me. 

It is these privileges that are the first to go when they misbehave. 

Just be sure that the privilege you take is something you can control, like toys, cell phone, computer, tv, playing with friends, etc.

The key is to be CONSISTENT!

You can consider using a Privilege Chart.
Take pictures of the things your child can’t live without. Your child looses one privilege starting from least favorite to most favorite when they misbehave or talk back. Realize that their chart will change as they get older. 

2. Natural Consequences, let them take their course.
Most actions have natural consequences that occur. Let these natural consequences teach and don’t feel like you have to “save” your child from the consequence. It is the perfect time to help your child understand that our actions have consequences. When we make good decisions, our consequences are positive. When we make poor decisions, our consequences are negative. 

We experienced this with our son not too long ago. Despite plenty of ability, time to finish, and help, our son wouldn’t focus to finish his homework. He knew that if he didn’t finish by bedtime, that he would have to go to school with it unfinished (he can’t stand not having his homework done.) Our son didn’t believe us. He was certain we would let him stay up as long as it took.  We stood strong and he ended up going to school with unfinished work. He had to suffer the natural consequence of his actions. Boy did it teach him a lesson. The natural consequence did far more to teach him then a consequence we would have set. 

2. Whining Chair, Time away, time out, being sent to another room…call it what you want. 
The lesson to teach when we have to remove our children from the situation is…“if you are going to misbehave, then you can’t be apart until you change your actions.” A child who is not listening, who is yelling, talking back, or treating siblings unkind, needs to be removed from the situation. 

Just remember to stay strong, you don’t have to explain yourself. 

Remember, it comes down to what works with each child. Trail and error will help as you learn to understand each child. As parents, we need to stay calm and collected. We need to be confident and in charge. Above all, we need to be consistent. 

It won’t be perfect every time. A bad day doesn’t mean that all is lost. We will have plenty of opportunities to enforce consequences, we just need to stick with it. 

Remember above all…ALWAYS follow the reprimand with an increase in LOVE, ALWAYS. 

How do you enforce consequences in your home?
What is your leverage? What can’t your child live without?


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