Parenting can be an exhausting task, especially if children and teenagers don’t easily follow the lead. Where in the past, parents used physical punishment as a way to get their kids in line, we nowadays use different ways to discipline them.
Difference between consequences and punishment
Consequences will encourage the desired behaviour where punishment accentuates what the child has done wrong. The emphasis is really different and it is important to communicate to the child what it is you do want as opposed to what you don’t want them to do. One other significant aspect is that consequences aim to keep lines of communication open wherein punishment we often observe parents ignoring their children as part of the punishment.
There are a few different types of consequences:
Natural consequences will be situations where your child or teenager learns without you having to intervene. For example, if your child refuses to wear a jacket to school and it starts raining during the day, they might feel cold and wet or the teen who refuses to eat what you cook might feel hungry later. It’s important though to factor in the potential for harm or injury when allowing natural consequences to take their course.
Logical consequences are the ones that stand in relation to the behaviour displayed. For example, if a teenager throws a tantrum and damages something in the house, the logical consequence would be for them to have to pay for it to be fixed or fix it themselves. The more relevant the consequence is to the behaviour the fairer they are.
Loss of privilege is commonly used as a negative consequence for aggressive behaviour or words. Often the consequence relates to something enjoyed by the child but which isn’t a basic need, for example watching television or using the computer.
Time-out is an excellent consequence when parents and child are feeling angry and require some time to calm down. Remember as a parent that when your heart rate is ten beats above the resting heart rate you are no longer able to use your creative thinking ability and therefore say and do things, which you might later regret.
How to implement
Depending on the age of the child you should make the consequences clear the first time the unwanted behaviour happens. From then on it’s of utmost importance to be consequent in implementing it (that’s why they are called consequences!).
Consequences don’t have to be harsh or long to have an effect but they need to be the same every time so make sure you agree with your partner or other caretakers of the child.
Be mindful to implement the consequences in a calm manner and be clear that it is behaviour that is unwanted and that you don’t insult the child’s personality.
Bad behaviour, not a bad child!