HOW TO GIVE APPROPRIATE CONSEQUENCES WHEN YOUR CHILD MISBEHAVES
Consequences should follow naturally a child’s careless action or poor decision. However, as a parent, you may wonder how set up consequences effectively and how long to give them.
Here are a few tips to establish them:
1. Create a menu of consequences. When you and your child are calm, take this opportunity to sit down and create together a menu of consequences and rewards for your child. Having your child participate in this process will help her accept the consequences when facing the misbehavior. Examples of consequences and rewards based on child ages: consequences for a 5-9 year old may include loss of video games, for a 10-14 year old, it might be loss of cell phone, and for a 15-17 year old, it could be losing access to the car. Rewards for a 5-9 year old may include getting a treat, for a 10-14 year old, it might be having a sleep over with a friend, and for a 15-17 year old, it could be gaining later curfew.
2. Consequences should be time-limited and task-oriented. If you tell your child who misbehaved “No playdates for 3 months.”, chances are it will not work and your child will get angry and develop resentment toward you. Instead, tell your child what privilege he loses, for how long time he loses it, and what specific behavior you expect from her to earn the privilege back. For instance, if your teenager was verbally abusive toward you, you may withhold her cellphone and say that you expect her to talk to you appropriately for two hours. Once she practices the desired behavior, she gets back her cellphone.
3. One consequence at a time. Often, in the heat of the argument, you may say “No video games for a week. Now, it is two weeks. Three! Nice going, you have lost them for a month now.” Stacking consequences is indeed counterproductive as it undermines your authority by mirroring your child’s emotional level. Instead, you should wait until everybody is calm before choosing and implementing one effective consequence.
4. Remember problem solving. Giving consequences is only one step. This will not teach your child the appropriate behavior. Problem solving with your child is the key if you want your child to act differently in the future. Please refer to my blog of October 2016 if you want to read more about problem solving.
Dealing with misbehavior works best when implementing appropriate consequences for the offense. Then, working collaboratively with your child will help her learn desired behaviors.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.