Parenting: Consequences and why you need them

I hear this problem from so many parents…

My child knows the rules and I consistently tell them off for breaking them, yet they still do it again!”

Now there are two things to address in that sentence. The “telling them off” part and what that involves, plus whether it is realistic to expect a child to never do it again.

Let’s start with the telling them off part.

It’s very easy to get stuck in the same rut; your child breaks a rule, you get cross, shout at them, tell them it’s wrong and then move on.

Unfortunately this rarely works as a long term plan because telling them off is just not the right consequence for a child… it may sometimes work because they feel bad or a little scared but what mostly happens is this… you get cross, stressed and shout at your child when you would rather not so, you then feel guilty.

So who did the consequence affect more, you or your child?

Most likely it was you!

Life as an adult is full of consequences.. Almost every action has one, some are good,some are bad.

Help your child learn to avoid the bad ones.

As you can imagine the theory of it is pretty simple… your child breaks a rule, you give a consequence.

Eg; no tv this evening or taking away a toy for a set time.

All simple enough but there are some other important things to remember before you start.

You must always give a warning before giving a consequence.. Lots say that if they break a rule you warn them the first time, then if they do it again you give the consequence.. This is fine and I would mostly suggest you do this, but if it’s a rule they know well and you think they have a high chance of breaking it you can also pre warn them.

Fred you know the rules about not tipping water out of the bath so let’s have a nice bath time and not do that, because if you do there will be no story time” what each consequence is needs to be decided depending on the child and each situation.

Some children only need a small thing, some a little more.

It needn’t be given in a cross way or in a manner that could be interpreted as mean (these are both best avoided) it’s just a fact of life that happens when they behave badly.

For instance the bath one is not your fault at all..

There was no time for a story because you had to spend story time cleaning up the water.

This type of situation is a great way for them learning that what they do has a knock on effect to other things.

That said,there will be times when it is not so easily linked and they just have to accept that consequences are what happens because of bad behaviour.

My warning to you.. be ready for a meltdown!

Some children will accept this type of thing better than others and some occasions will be easier than others but a tantrum and complete meltdown is quite possible!

Without wanting to sound harsh, getting a reaction like this is not a bad thing… it means they have noticed the consequence and don’t like it.

What you can do to help this and calm the situation is sympathise with them about being upset (you must never go back on what you’ve said) but remember this is not to be used as you being cross or mean to them, so there is no harm in being calm and factual about it.

I know your cross/sad etc about missing storytime and that’s a shame but you knew what would happen if you tipped the water out”

Try and avoid the “I told you what would happen” and gently put it back on them “you knew the rules” or “you knew what would happen”

This is why your warnings before carrying out the consequence is so important.

They need the structure of knowing the rules and what will happen if they break them.

Now back to the other thing I hear so often “my child keeps breaking the rules, even though they know them so well”

If you’re not giving consequences, then they really have no reason to not do it again do they?

However, even if you are giving consequences they will still sometimes do the same thing again.. Not because the consequence method doesn’t work but simply because they are human! Not only a human but one who is not fully developed yet.

As adults who have far more control than children we still break many small rules every day.. Shouting at your child when you had decided not to anymore, speeding slightly on the way to school because you are late etc.

This doesn’t mean it’s ok though.. As adults we have consequences too, a speeding ticket from the police or feeling guilty for shouting. It just means we are all human and sometimes it will happen, we just have to deal with the consequences and try to avoid it happening too often.

Being a parent needs a lot of patience and yes I’m sorry to say it but a fair amount of repetition!

I can help you limit that but I can’t take it away completely.. sorry!

A few simple things to keep in mind before you start giving consequences to your child…

Always give a warning of what the rule is and what will happen if they break it.. Only ever give one though.

Two warnings is just nagging and ineffective.

Don’t be cross or angry about it.. It is their consequence not yours.

Choose a few set consequences to have in mind for when there isn’t an obvious one linked..

When choosing the set ones they needn’t be the worst thing that can happen to your child just something that they will notice and not want to repeat.

Be realistic.. I’ve heard Christmas cancelled many times which as we all know is simply never going to happen!

Make sure to stick to simple things that affect the child who did the behaviour and not the whole family.

ALWAYS be consistent! If they break a rule that would normally get a consequence then you must give a consequence.. It can be a small consequence for a small rule and go up accordingly but there must be something or they won’t expect one and will think it’s just unfair when you give the next one.

A simple way to introduce this gradually is to start with the unacceptable things that they do consistently, give warnings followed by a consequence.. Don’t try and fix it all in one go. You can build up to other things over a few weeks.


Guest Post by Vicky Hamilton Ross. Visit  Simple Steps Parenting and their Facebook

20161021_084453About Vicky
In my 15 years of childcare experience I’ve seen one common link in most families. ..
They all have the same issues they struggle with.
My blog is about how important it is to deal with these issues and where to start in dealing with them.
As a live in nanny I have experienced family life at close quarters… I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.  I hope you will like the simple and practical advice I have for you.


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