1. Remember: the goal of discipline is to teach responsibility for one’s own behavior.
2. Kids learn best when they experience the consequences of their behavior. Consequences hold children accountable for their actions.
3. When your child experiences the consequences, you are freed from threatening, screaming, yelling, spanking, nagging, and complaining. Actions—that is, applying consequences—speak louder than your words ever will.
4. Natural consequences are the unavoidable results of one’s actions. A child not eating lunch because she forgot lunch money is a natural consequence. Burning your hand is a natural consequence of touching a hot pan.
5. Logical consequences, although contrived, relate logically to the behavior. They are constructed because the natural consequences are not immediate enough for the child to learn to be responsible. A child who misses dinner because he was late for the agreed-upon dinner time experiences a logical consequence.
6. Logical consequences must be logical to your child if they are to be effective.
7. Using consequences does not mean you quit supporting and guiding your child.
8. Some hints for using consequences:
- Decide if the problem is worth battling.
- Present consequences as choice. Choices within limits provide children with opportunities to learn to make good decisions because they make the decision. (“You can either feed your dog or we will give it away.”)
- Consistently follow through if your child has chosen the consequences.
- Administer the consequence in a friendly rather than hostile, punitive manner. There is no need for nagging or lecturing.
- Include your child in creating the consequences. Consequences are something you do with you children, not to them.
- Separate your child from her behavior. One way: focus your attention back to positive things soon after the consequences are given.
- Never give a choice to your child that you could not follow through on (“Either change your attitude or find another place to live.”)
9. Remember—consequences are tools with which to teach children to be responsible for their actions and to make good choices for their lives. Consequences are not punishment, and will fail if they are presented as such.