Key to Parenting with Consequences

Know your child's currency. Children are unique and what works with one child will not necessarily work for the other.

By Narmin Parpia

For example, when my children were younger and I wanted them to put their toys away in the toy box after they were done playing.

For one son, the consequence of loosing the privilege of playing with his toys for a few days was enough to get him to put his toys away. My other son did not care as much about his toys and so the consequence of loosing the privilege of playing with the toys for a few days had no impact on him!

Logical consequences are the best - but don't always work for every child! So, be creative, flexible and adaptable.

Try a logical consequence first - it is the best way to teach and encourage the desired behaviors.

For example - in the case of putting toys away - loosing the privilege of playing with your toys if you don't put them away is a good logical consequence. Or in the case of potty training - practice is a good logical consequence to learning the desired behavior.

However, logic doesn't always work every child - and it is okay to impose logical consequences that are not completely logical.

In the case of my son who did not want to pick up his toys - we used his daily favorite TV show as the consequence. He could watch the show ONLY after his toys were picked up. It was amazing how quickly the toys were put away when it was time to watch the show!

Making sure that logical consequences are working for you the parent! Timing is everything!

The hardest thing is finding a consequence that will work for your child, but also suits you. In the case of my son, the TV show worked well because it was definitely his currency, but it also worked well for me because of the timing of the show and when they watched it. The show was on every day and it was on in the evening - so clean up timing coincided nicely with the timing of the show.

CONSISTENTLY following through on the consequences and doing so in a matter of fact manner.

The other thing I have to always work on is not giving into the anger when I get frustrated and imposing the consequences in a very matter of fact manner.

An example of my struggle with this one is with clean up after dinner. In our home, our boys are supposed to help with after dinner clean up. One child is responsible for cleaning up the table and the kitchen counters, white the other has to do dishes. The duties rotate and they are responsible for their rotation schedule.

Most of the time things go well. However, ever few weeks - the boys decide to test me. Instead of getting to clean up after dinner - they will find something else to do and this will delay clean up. I have seen fussing, arguing, playing, using the bathroom as things to do before clean - basically anything to delay clean up.

This usually gets my blood boiling. So after a couple of times of excuses - I implemented the rule that clean up was to be done right after dinner - not after doing other things and if they chose to do other things before clean up - they would be grounded for the evening.

They continue to test me - always finding excuses to avoid clean up and I have to constantly work on not taking the bait and just impose grounding when they do!!

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