In recent Mom’s Corners, we addressed dealing with negative behavior in children. We started with our mindset in those situations and then moved to being proactive in prevention. Now we arrive at the nitty-gritty of actual consequences, which is what the original question asked.
“I would love to see some posts about how to handle things like siblings fighting, whining, talking back, etc. I just need some fresh inspiration for practical consequences on how to handle these kinds of things.” Dana
The goal of a consequence is to get a child’s attention so he will consider a new behavior to be a better choice over the previous behavior. This lines up with Scripture and how God disciplines us as His children. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).
In our experience, as mentioned previously, it is less about the actual consequence and more about the consistency with which it is used. Plus each child is an individual so a consequence that works great with one child might have no effect on another child. Choosing consequences can be difficult.
Here are some criteria you might want to consider when evaluating consequences.
- Can you live with it? Be careful of consequences that are complicated, take record keeping, or will cause you or a child’s sibling not to be able to do something you should do or want to do.
- Does it de-escalate? It might be that simply given a break from the situation will mean the discipline problem goes away.
- Is it appropriate? You want to find consequences that are age appropriate, and you are looking for consequences that don’t under or over correct the child.
- Is it effective? Children are different, and what will get one child’s attention means nothing to another.
Look for something that fits the criteria and works. Remember it is about providing the child incentive to change his behavior.
Our Personal Go-To Consequences
Here were four of our favorite consequences:
- Chair sitting for a designated amount of time. This consequence was one we could live with—no problems while the child was on the chair. It de-escalated the problem by separating quarreling children or ending whining, and it was appropriate for younger children, when we were at home. It was quite effective because our children loved to be active so taking that freedom away for a short time got their attention. Our chair sitting rules were:
- Sit up on chair.
- No talking.
- No playing.
- Play alone for a designated length of time. This consequence fit all the criteria, but we reserved it for younger children.
- Extra chores. This fits the criteria, but if the child is too young to do chores, it would not be appropriate. Since meal clean up was a daily assigned chore in our home, we would often let children off of meal cleanup who didn’t have consequences and give the clean up to those who did have extra-chore consequences. That rewarded the obedient children and disciplined the disobedient children.
- Early bedtime. We could only live with this consequence if we made sure there was buffer time in our evening so a child could go to bed early. It was more effective for older children who understood that they were going to bed early than it was for younger children who weren’t yet time savvy.
The End Result
Remember when you give a child a consequence, you are doing it with the goal of helping him grow into a mature, godly adult with characteristics that will make him/her a good husband/wife, father/mother, employee or business owner, and also be enjoyable to live with. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). That makes it worth the time and investment you put into finding consequences that work and using them consistently.
Here is another article with more practical consequence information.
Trusting in Jesus,