[I am reminded of a time I was at the park with Sam. He had climbed a ladder and proceeded to the cross walk, but it was blocked by kids twice his height. He just turned, squatted down and jumped off! This took my breath away. Even the older kids were amazed that he had jumped this height. In my panic I pictured him hitting the ground, his knee coming up under his chin, his teeth biting off his tongue! None of this happened. Instead, either because of the thrill or because of the amazement of the people around him, Sam climbed the ladder to repeat his dare devil act over and over again. But what if he did hurt himself? What would this teach him? He would learn to respect gravity. He would adjust his behavior. Such is the power of consequences.]
To get your children on board and brainstorm [to establish appropriate consequences], start with a family meeting to list work assignments and come up with appropriate consequences. Children can often be your best source of ideas. We had our first meeting when our oldest two were about four and five years old. At that time we were dealing with slapping, leaving bikes out, and yelling. We asked the children what would be an appropriate response on our part to their behavior. They decided that if they left their bikes out, the bikes would be hung up in the garage out of reach for three days. If they yelled unnecessarily, they would have to go to their room for ten minutes. If they slapped a sibling, they would serve a time out. With the rules posted on a chart on the wall, we would merely point to the chart when an infraction occurred and the child would take the punishment. After all, it was their idea.
If you are at a loss for consequences, Patricia Sprinkle suggests, “Ask yourself this important question: What am I doing for my child that, if left undone, would soon teach the child to care for part of his or her own world?” The purpose of this is to give a nexus, or connection, between behavior and results. Here are some examples:
- Not taking dishes from table to sink—scrape all plates off for that meal
- Kitchen not cleaned after one meal—next meal not prepared
- Toys left out—items confiscated for a day or pay a fine
- Garbage not taken out—wash all garbage cans in the house and outside
- Bike left out—can’t ride for three days
- Arriving late to dinner—no dinner
- Messy room—stay in room until it is cleaned
- Unnecessary yelling—go to a room where others won’t be bothered
The idea of consequences is to create some discomfort for the child. This mild discomfort or inconvenience is often an incentive to remember and obey. You know your children better than anyone else. What could you do to drive home the point of responsible behavior to them?
Life Skills For Kids: Equipping Your Child For The Real World
by Christine M. Field
I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth. ~ 3 John 4