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Parenting With Consequences Not With Punishment

posted by DNA Identifiers @ 4:08 PM
Wednesday, September 15, 2010

By Anne Wolski

Parenting can be a particularly daunting task. Parents are constantly being told that hitting a child is not appropriate and that punishment is not an effective parenting tool. However, punishment and consequences are not necessarily the same and can definitely a positive way of disciplining your children. A proper form of discipline teaches the child to become a responsible adult with self-discipline and consideration for other people.

Consequences, encourage good behaviour and help to keep the lines of communication open between parent and child. It is not enough to use negative consequences alone in teaching children to behave appropriately.  This only teaches them what not to do and does not teaching them more appropriate behaviours. Parents also need to use positive consequences for good behaviour.  Consequences need to be used alongside being open and honest with your children as to what you expect of them.

When you focus on your child’s good behaviours and praise your child for these behaviours, the bad behaviours generally decrease and negative consequences aren’t needed as frequently. Remember that consequences are only there to reinforce boundaries and rules when verbal reminders haven’t worked.

It is important to think carefully about the type of negative consequences used for bad behaviour as overuse or inconsistency can render them ineffective and even useless.

There are three types of consequences, natural consequences, logical consequences, and loss of privileges. Each of these can be used as required, depending on the behaviours displayed by the child.

Natural consequences can teach your child lessons without your intervention. These can be either good or bad. An appropriate natural consequence may be when a child refuses to eat a meal, later they will feel hungry and will learn quickly that refusing to eat is not appropriate and leads to personal discomfort as long as they aren’t given food when they express hunger.

In a bad sense however, the consequence of behaviour may lead to injury in which case it is important for the parent to intervene in order to protect the child. Unfortunately, natural consequences can reward bad behaviour. For instance, a bully is rewarded when the victim gives in to demands unless a parent intervenes.

A logical consequence is one that is in relation to the behaviour displayed. An example of this would be where the child throws food or drink on the wall or floor in temper. When the temper is done, the child would then be expected to clean up the mess that they had made. This form of consequence gets the child to think about what they did and the consequence of their actions. These consequences are fairer as they are relevant to the particular behaviour.

Loss of privilege may be used as a negative consequence for some behaviours such as swearing and aggressive behaviour and may range from losing the privilege of watching a television program to not being taken on an outing.

The use of time-out is is a loss of privilege consequence that is appropriate when the child is being particularly difficult or where both parent and child are feeling angry and need a short break to calm down.  You and your child need to use this time to calm down in order to address the situation more appropriately.

Although negative consequences are important tools parents, it is also important to be aware that encouragement for good behaviour will lessen the need for consequences. Your children need to understand exactly what is expected of them. Obviously, if the child then ignores rules and subsequent reminders, then negative consequences need to be applied. These need to be consistent and must apply to all children in the family regardless of age and gender. Otherwise, your children will see it as favouritism toward other children and this may lead to a diminished sense of self worth as well as continued bad behavior.

When using consequences it is important to keep a few things in mind:

Keep the consequence short in order to give the child a chance to try again. Don’t take the toy away for hours…take it away for fifteen minutes or so. The consequence does not have to be long or harsh for it to work.

It is important to implement the consequence calmly and without getting personal or upset. Refer to the bad behaviour not to the bad child. Staying neutral and in control lets the child learn from the situation rather than worrying about how angry the parent is with them.

All children display negative behaviours at times. How you deal with these behaviours as a parent can make all the difference in maintaining a close bond with your children. Don’t confuse negative consequences with punishment and use the negative consequences in a constructive manner. Happy Parenting!!!

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