🤷♀️When we hear the word "consequences," we naturally think of punishments, disapproval, and disappointment. And when it comes to parenting, let's face it: no one wants to be known for chastising. But did you know there are more than just negative consequences when parenting? Here are the 5 steps for using consequences in your home.📋
📖 Let's break down exactly what a consequence is. By definition, a consequence is the result of an action or condition. When it comes to parenting, this would be what happens immediately after a behavioral moment with your child. The word itself has neither positive nor negative traits. But because we as a society often treat them as only bad things, that is how we view them. Would you want your child to think every consequence of something they do is bad? So let's make some simple vocabulary. 📔
Benefits and Discipline
👍Positive consequences or benefits, show your child that you are pleased with their actions. While negative consequences, or discipline, show your child that you did not like their actions or misbehavior. Naturally, discipline often leads to a change in behavior, but what type of discipline is best for your parenting style?👎
Step 1: How To Identify the Misbehavior 🕵️♀️
Seems simple enough, right? You know when your child does something you don't like. But how to go about expressing it to them? Once you have identified the misbehavior, it's time to be specific with what your child can expect to happen if it continues.
Let's say your child is coloring, and they start throwing their crayons across the room. Simply saying "Stop" or "No" may not be enough to change the behavior. So you say, "If you don't behave, I'm going to take the crayons away." That's not bad, but how does your child know what "behave" means in this situation? Instead, try, "Keep throwing your crayons, and I will take them away." Your child is aware of the behavior you don't like and what will happen if it continues. The more specific you can be, the better for communication. And segues us into our next step.
Step 2: How To Give A Warning 🗣️
Giving a warning allows your child to weigh their actions and behavior against the discipline that might follow. Let's see if we can improve our previous example by turning it into an "If-Then" statement. "If you keep throwing your crayons, then I will take them away." But, (and this is key) don't use warnings if you do not plan to follow through with the discipline. Otherwise, your child may ignore the warnings entirely.
Step 3: How to Give A Consequence 💁♀️
Now that the warning is issued, it's time to see what your child decides to do. But either way, you should follow up with a consequence of some kind. Remember, this doesn't have to be a negative thing. For example, your child listens and returns to coloring calmly without throwing crayons. The consequence should be a benefit, like verbal praise, a high-five or hug, a sticker, or some other form of positive reinforcement. But what if the misbehavior continues? The CDC suggests these 4 types of discipline in response.
Now, I know what you're thinking: how can I change the behavior by ignoring it? When you ignore the misbehavior, you take away all the attention from your child and their actions.
Obviously, we can't ignore every situation. So maybe distracting can work better. A distraction puts your child's focus on something else entirely, which may be enough to curb the behavior.
Delay Privileges 📵
Delaying privileges means making your child wait to watch, eat, drink, or do something they like. For younger children, having the privilege related to the misbehavior is best.
While time-out may look different depending on the household, the idea is to move your child to a place free from distraction and attention. You might picture a chair in the corner of a room, but this doesn't have to be the case. Time-out can also be your child focusing on a skill improvement they struggle with or sitting and talking about the behavior. Either way, it will feel like discipline to your child because it's not what they would rather be doing.
Step 4: Be Sure To Explain Why 👩👧
Discipline doesn't get very far without an explanation. Reinforce your warning statements when disciplining your child. This way, even if they don't like it, they understand what's happening is a consequence of their behavior.
Brace Yourself For A Tantrum 😭
Crying, screaming, flailing...that thing kids do when they act like they have no bones. No one needs to tell you what it looks like when your child receives discipline and becomes overwhelmed. Don't let the tantrum stop you from committing to the negative consequence. If you cave, your child will learn, "all I have to do is scream and yell long enough, and mom/dad will give me what I want," This does nothing to curb the misbehavior.
Step 5: Return To Positive Communication 🤗
Once the discipline is over, be sure to go back to using positive communication to clear the air and reinforce the benefits of good behavior. Let's say you took away the crayons; remind your child of the type of behavior you want to see to have them back.
Your Thoughts? 💬
How do you positive and negative consequences in your house? Teachers, how do you handle these situations in your classroom? We'd love to read your comments below. Happy Parenting!