Consequences and Improving Behavior

by Heligirl on April 2, 2012

in Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles,Positive Discipline

A girlfriend of mine with a daughter close to Sweetness’s age was lamenting on her Facebook page this past week about having to enact a consequence, and then suffer through the fallout. But low and behold, her daughter thought twice the second time around.

It reminded me all over again of the importance of logical consequences.

Positive discipline advocates deeply encourage natural or logical consequences. The difference between the two being with natural, the consequence is what would happen naturally – refuse to take your coat, be cold. Logical consequence is something we need to create to relate to a misbehavior.

Before I get too far, however, it’s important to remember a few important points.

First, a misbehavior is a symptom, not the problem. Try to take time to determine what it is that is causing it. Did your child have a rough day at school? Have you been too preoccupied to give her attention today? Is she feeling left out of something important to her?

Keep in mind sometimes it’s just emotion coming out – such as when a child has a fit when it’s time to leave the playground. I hate leaving something fun before I’m ready too. I just fear what people would say if I threw myself on the ground and screamed about it.

Second, it’s important to stay calm, or at least have the appearance of being calm. Get into the screaming and fighting and you’ve lost the power struggle.

Finally, be sure to give a warning. Kids need time to transition and in time, that warning is all you’ll need to offer as a reminder. It also makes it fair. They could be in the heat of battle and have completely forgotten a consequence is coming.

Now, in addition to trying to assist with the problem, we do need to address the misbehavior to teach our children appropriate behavior for them to succeed in society.

When coming up with logical consequences, be sure to consider the following 5 Rs:

Revealed in advance
The biggest pitfall is pulling something out of your hat on the spot in the heat of anger. Your kids aren’t going to learn from this and are more likely going to direct anger or resentment at you. If you see a new misbehavior, do what you can to get past it and when you’re both calm, talk about a consequence. Older kids can even help you come up with one.

Make sure you’re being respectful. Making a scene and example of your child in front of friends won’t help either of you.

Help your child understand behaviors have consequences by choosing something related to the behavior. Don’t eat your dinner, then no food until tomorrow morning. The kitchen is closed.

Reasonable for age
Make sure the consequence relates to your kid’s age. Sending an 18 month old to their room isn’t going to do a lick of good, and neither is taking away the Xbox for six months for an 8 year old. They have to get it and it has to mean something. If a duration of time is involved, make it appropriate for the age. Five minutes of quiet time for a 3 year old, a week without video games for a grade-schooler, etc.

Repeated back
Have your child repeat back the consequence so you know he understands. It’s also a good time to talk about it.


My mom tip today is give those 5 Rs a whirl when creating a consequence. Then, the next time the kids are fighting like cats and dogs in the back of the car, it should come to no surprise to them when you say, after your first and only warning, “It looks like we can’t stop for ice cream now. When you fight, we can’t go to a restaurant where other people are eating in peace,” they’ll be angry, but your consistency will assure, in time, your children are learning about the way we behave in society.

Do you use consequences? How does that work in your house? If you have a story of it working well, and even if it blew up in your face, please do share.


Emily Woodhouse April 12, 2012 at 4:38 am

Thanks for such a helpful post. My 11 year old has SM(Selective Mutism). She doesn’t talk much in the school. For that she stays angry most of the times but I’m following some process like you mentioned in your post. Now she is getting better day by day. Great post, very informative. Thank you so much.
Emily Woodhouse recently posted: Yeast Infection No More

John P. Manning May 20, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Good to see your post here and also, great tips. Fantastic post.
John P. Manning recently posted: Boilx Review

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