The Consequence of using Consequences

Katherine - posted on 06/12/2011 ( 6 moms have responded )




I don’t really see the harm in teaching a child that their actions have consequences. Isn’t that the first step in helping our children live in a civilized society? As long as the consequences are not unfair and fit the behavior, I think it is probably a good thing to teach. I explain to my son that if he does A (positive behavior), one thing will happen; and if he does B (negative behavior), a different thing will happen. I help him decide which action he will choose and that way give him autonomy. If he makes what adults would consider the ‘right’ choice, then he gets praise. But if the other choice is made, we go through with the consequence without any further anger/frustration etc. on my part. When these occasions happen (and they are few and far between) the matter is always resolved quickly and happily and the ‘wrong’ choice is rarely repeated.2


Jenni - posted on 06/13/2011




I enjoyed the article, it is an interesting take on parenting but I do have a few concerns about this method of parenting.

The world does not cater to our child's needs. When I parent I focus on providing my child with useful tools for their adult life. In your adult life, people are not going to focus on your individual needs, they will focus on your behaviours.

If you were in a hurry and voicing your complaints loudly in line at the bank, I doubt the people standing in front of you would think; "Oh, she must be in a hurry, let's satisfy her need to finish her errands by allowing her to cut infront. No, they would probably just think; what makes her think she's more important than the rest of us, we have to wait too, you don't hear us belly-aching.

By providing her child with 'alternatives' without addressing the negative behaviour I would think she is encouraging negative behaviour. Or encourging him to seek out negative behaviours to receive 'coddling'.

It would be like if I started throwing lamps and remotes around the room and my husband approaches me and says: "Honey, I see you're really upset right now, do you need a hug, a glass of water, would you like to watch a tv program with me to take your mind off of it?"

How would that be discouraging me from breaking items in our household every time I became upset? I would probably learn that my negative behaviours fullfill my need for attention when I'm experiencing negative emotions. That would encourage me to repeat those negative behaviours next time I felt upset because I ultimately learned that engaging in those behaviours gets my needs met.

We need consequences. The reason, I as an adult, don't engage in certain negative behaviours is because I know the negative consequences of those behaviours. The reasons I engage in positive behaviours is because I reep positive results or consequences. This is what we are trying to teach our children through natural consequences. For children it needs to be spelled out more boldly because unlike us adults, they lack the experience needed in decision making.

We can say if you choose A) positive choice, these things may happen but if you choose B) negative choice these things may happen. They can still choose B if they wish to find out for themselves. It is ultimately their decision and we will talk about what consequences occured after the fact.

If my son is acting out because he's bored. I will first address that he is bored but I will also address the negative behaviour he is exhibiting because of his need to find something to do. As in "Ben, I can see your bored and that's why you're picking on your sister. You make her sad when you pick on her, see she's crying. How about instead you ask her to colour with you, then you will both be happy."

By saying this I believe I am teaching him to:

A) Identify with his feelings of boredom

B) Address the negative behaviour

C) Address how the negative behaviour affects others and what it causes them to feel.

D) Offer a solution to help both of them feel happy

*This will teach him in the future how to identify the emotion (boredom) and an appropriate solution for this situation.

You have to help the child to understand the negative behaviour. If he choses to continue to bug his sister then I will provide a consequence for him. That would be them taking a break from eachother and playing in seperate rooms.

Once they are ready to play together again THEN I will provide them with an activity to address the boredom so it is not directly linked to the negative behaviour.

I hope that makes sense, I feel like I'm rambling. :P

Jaime - posted on 06/13/2011




I agree with you on those points Jenn. The negative behaviour won't cease if it's proving useful to the child. And encouraging positive behaviour is fantastic...but it won't do much good if there is nothing to be learned from misbehaviour. Even on CoMs...when a thread gets heated or out of control, the mods don't just lock the thread, they first address the issue and deal the parties involved (whether that involves a warning or being blocked for a period of time). There does have to be some kind of consequence for actions, otherwise there would be many versions of 'right' and 'wrong' and no idea how to determine which is which.

Jaime - posted on 06/13/2011




This article is discussing natural vs. logical consequences and when it is the appropriate time to implement the latter. In a lot of situations, natural consequences do a good job of teaching kids about their behaviour, but there are also times that call for parental intervention. It's not always a good habit to get into by saying "if you do this, then this will happen" because it's a bit like setting kids up for failure. Putting an unrealistic expectation on their behaviour from the get-go. Reinforcing positive behaviours, praising effort and reminding kids about what is expected of them has a much greater impact, than to deal with a situation in the moment. "When we all play together, we have lots of fun" "I really like that you are all playing together and sharing" "I am so glad to hear those awesome manners" "Thank you for using your gentle hands/inside voice, polite words". We teach our children all about what is "right", but in order for them to truly understand how important the "right" behaviour is, we have to believe in it as much as we want them to.

Nikki - posted on 06/12/2011




I agree with her article to a certain extent, but it is like everything else, pick your battles, pick the situation which needs explaining. Consequences are an important part of life and yes it would be lovely for the world to focus on what we need as individuals but that's not always going to happen, life is a bitch sometimes. There are some rules and laws we may not like but we have to deal with it, the world doesn't revolve around us as individuals. There needs to be a balance, we can get on board with this whole over the top, focused positive individual parenting but is it really healthy for the child? I don't think so.

Out of all the parents I know I am possibly the most progressive with behaviour management and child raising. I want my daughter to have choices, to understand the world, to have a sense of self but I need to find a balance between growing up a healthy self assured member of society or a self centred the world revolves around me type of person.

JuLeah - posted on 06/13/2011




If you don't make a connection in their little minds between their actions and the consequence, how will they ever have any power in the world?

I have teens in my life that have NO power, no voice.

Nothing is ever their fault, ever. All of their lives excuses have been made, reason doled out, blame placed on another ... so now, if they are late for school, the stupid alarm didn't go off. If they don't turn in homework, it is because their mom moved it somewhere and lost it. If they miss a goal, or strike out ... well somehow that is another person's fault too.

But, if everything is always someone's fault, not theirs, where is their power to change the situation?

It has never occured to them to check and make sure the alarm is working ... there is no connection for them between that action and getting to school on time.

To put their homework in their binder so it doesn't get lost? They don't think to do that, cause all of their life someone has been there to pick up and take care of their stuff ... there is no connection between putting their homework in the binder, and not losing it.

They don't think to practice harder at their sport, becuase they have never had to practice. They were praised as 'the best' their first time out. Excuses were made for every error. In some cultures kids hear, "well, next time try harder." or "Well, you can always practice and try again"

But here, all they hear is, "Good Try" "good effort" "You're the best" and, "I guess the sun was in yoru eye"


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