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Child Discipline: Teaching Your Children About Consequences

Aug 17, 2007
Every decision has its consequences. Everyone learns this--some easier than others. Some people have to learn the hard way. Some learn early from the discipline of parents that there are consequences to actions. But as parents, how can we chose the right discipline for our child?

Parenting books have many different views on how this needs to be done. One of the easiest and most used methods (even if you don't realize it) is to use if/then consequences. (Everyone has heard, and many parents have even used, this: IF you do not finish your peas, THEN you get no dessert). If you are having a difficult time teaching your child how to make good decisions, if/then statements have been proven to be a wonderful way to bring about quick changes, as long parents are consistent with follow-through.

Before beginning to use this method, there are a few things parents need to understand:

1. There is a world of difference between "punishing" your child and "disciplining" her. Punishment is meant to show power and strength, but little love. Discipline teaches a child what behavior they exhibited that was unacceptable, and helps them to understand why. Children also learn what you want them to do next time.

2. Never discipline your child when you are angry or upset. Reprimand the behavior at the time, but wait to discipline until you (and your child) have calmed down.

3. Rewards for good behavior should not be monetary, nor should they be expensive gifts. We parents do not get money, cars, expensive gifts, etc., for doing the right thing, and we do not want to teach our children that she will be rewarded for doing the right thing. Rewards should be based on the effort your child makes, not necessarily a perfect outcome.

4. Make sure both parents are on the same page, and are consistent. (Ever since there have been children and parents, children have been telling Dad "But Mom said" or vice versa.)

If/Then statements are simple. Think of the behavior you would like to change (failing grades, talking back, not picking up after himself, etc.). Make sure this is a behavior that your child knows is not acceptable.

Think of consequences if your child continues the action (no TV, no computer or video games, no phone privileges, removing things from her room, etc.). Make sure that the consequence will have some value to your child. There is no point of taking away TV time if your child has a video game system in his room, or spends all of her time on the cell phone.

As your child realizes that you are serious, and both parents are going to be consistent, most behavior problems begin to decrease. If the behavior does not, there may be additional causes for your child's behavior, and you may want to look into professional help for your child. However, if there are no additional causes, the result of this will be better communication, fewer power struggles, and more quality time.
About the Author
Parenting today is more demanding than ever before because we have higher expectations for our children and there are more demands on our time. To get Help for Parents and proven parenting tips and techniques for busy parents visit Parenting Skills: www.PracticalParentingTips.com
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