Tip--When your children break rules, be able to consistently offer a reasonable consequence in a calm fashion.

Keep in mind--Many parents confuse consequences with threats. The intent of a threat is to intimidate a child into obedience-- for example, "Let go of the vase or I'll spank your hand."  A threat is not always carried out, and when it is, a threat functions more like a punishment.

The intent of a consequence is to guide or to teach--for example, "Let go of the vase or you'll have to play in the other room." A consequence offers a true choice and is delivered calmly.

Consequences can be natural or logical. A natural consequence automatically follows the behavior: a child runs out into the snow without shoes and he gets cold. A logical consequence is delivered by the parent: a child runs out into the snow without shoes and his mom carries him back into the house.

  1. A logical consequence is a real choice. Both options must be acceptable to the parent. For example, "Pick up your toys now or I will put them away for two days."
  2. The consequence is related to the child's behavior. For example, "If you're not hungry enough for dinner, you are not hungry enough for dessert." The connection is hunger. "No dinner, no storytime," is not related.
  3. The consequence must be gentle and firm. Make your voice pleasant and factual. For example, "You can get into the tub by yourself, or I can put you in." If your voice is mean, loud, or critical, the statement becomes a threat. With a consequence, your voice is calm and firm.
  4. A consequence needs consistent follow-through. When you say, "Pick up your toys or I will put them away for two days," and your child refuses to choose, then you must do what you said you would do. Pick up the toys and say, "I see you choose for me to put the toys away for two days."