January 16, 2011

Effective Parenting Includes Consequences and Consistency

When you discipline your child it’s important to be consistent. Consistency shows your child that you are in charge and that you’re serious. Discipline is not effective unless it’s done consistently.

In order to be consistent you need to have a plan. Without a plan you will simply react when your child misbehaves. Yelling, threatening and not following through with consequences are not effective when it comes to parenting.

With a plan, you will be responding instead of reacting and your discipline will be more effective. Your plan should include consequences. Consequences enforce the rules, make a child accountable for his actions and help the child learn and change. A consequence needs to be related to the behavior and must outweigh the pleasure of the disobedient act.

For example, a seven year old is tormenting his sister. The parent says, "If can can't be nice to your sister I'll cancel your play date this afternoon with Brain." This gives your child a choice. He can stop the tormenting and have his play date or he can continue the tormenting and lose his play date. If your child continues to torment his sister you must follow through by saying, "Since you are not treating others kindly, I’m canceling your play date with Brian this afternoon.”

Consequences will probably need to be different for each of your children. You have to take into account their age and developmental level. Once you find a consequence that works you can almost guarantee that after a period of time it will no longer be effective and you will have to find another one. Consequences will also need to be altered as your child gets older.

Sit down with your child and discuss the rules and expectations. Children will follow a rule better if you have explained why you have the rule. Spell them out and stick with them. You may even want to put it into a contract that both of you sign.

Finding consequences that work requires a lot of time and thought on your part. The investment will result in effective, fair discipline that will be crucial to your child’s growth.

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