Let me assure and reassure you that consequences DO work. Let’s take a look at how you, as parents can make consequences work for you.
Consequences are a natural part of life for all of us, and the sooner children learn that their actions result in either positive or negative results, the better. Providing consequences sets boundaries, and kids like boundaries. With boundaries, they feel safe, cared for and secure.
It takes CONSISTENT WORK on the parents’ part to enforce consequences, especially when they are negative. Many times I have heard parents say that they tell their kids over and over again what they want them to do, and their children do not follow their instructions.
FIRST POINT: Tell your children your EXPECTATIONS of them clearly and specifically. Example: ”Please have the table set in 15 minutes. Make sure you include the salt and pepper shakers, butter, napkins, and salad dressings.” It is important that the child has the ABILITY to complete the set expectations. Be sure your expectations are REASONABLE.
SECOND POINT: Give REASONS whenever possible for your expectations. For example: ”We all like to sit down to a hot rather than a luke-warm dinner. Having the table set on time makes this possible.” Kids often fulfill your expectations when they know the “whys” behind your requests.
THIRD POINT: Follow up with a logical or natural consequence. When the task is completed appropriately, let your child know you appreciate their willingness to complete the task. A hug, a pat on the back, a word of encouragement lets your child know you have noticed their efforts. If something is missed, you might say, “The table looks great, but we need the salad dressings to season the salad.” In this way, you are stating what they have done (noticing the positive) and encouraging them to finish the task.
If dinner is nearly ready and the table is not set, give one warning and a logical consequence. ”Jane, I need the table set now. If I set the table, you’ll be totally responsible for clearing up after dinner. And if that’s the case, it’s going to cut into your computer/homework time. It’s your choice.”
FOURTH POINT Follow through on the consequence. Following through is often the most difficult part. Children will engage in debate. ”But I always set the table.” ”You’re being mean.” ”If I have to clean up, I won’t have the time to finish my homework.” Some of the reasons may have some validity; however, your child made a choice. And with choices come consequences. If homework isn’t finished, then it’s the child’s responsibility to explain to the teacher why it isn’t finished. Following through on consequences teaches responsibility, resilience, cooperation and independence.
FIFTH POINT: Don’t cave in to your child’s requests, often stated angrily or sarcastically, to avoid the consequences. Taking responsibility for one’s actions is a life skill. And one of your responsibilities as a parent is to prepare your child for life. Feeling sorry for them, thinking it’s easier to just do it yourself, saving them from the consequences of their actions results in dependency. Dependent children are not happy children.
SIXTH POINT: Talk with your child about consequences. Make sure you and your child are calm when you talk. Anger accomplishes nothing. Explain the necessity of consistency, cooperation, teamwork, choices and consequences. Make sure your child knows s/he is loved unconditionally even when behaviors are unacceptable.
How helpful is this post for helping you, as parents, enforce consequences?
Until next time,