Giving consequences to your kids will be one of most important, yet fragile elements of parenting–because even though consequences are a good thing, there can be some negative effects if not done properly. To help you out a little, I’ve compiled a helpful and logical list to give you some healthy discipline ideas when it comes to giving consequences; and also information to consider BEFORE you discipline your kids.
Are consequences for kids good or bad?
If done properly, consequences can be one of the most helpful tools for your family to function in a healthy and loving way. Some might say the opposite–that consequences are negative, and will harm the emotional or mental health of a child.
But let’s consider the time in a persons life outside of the home they grow up in. What does living as an adult in reality tell you from your own personal experience? That there are consequences for misbehavior, right?
If you get a job, you can’t do whatever you like or you’ll get fired.
In a relationship, same thing. You can’t do whatever you want without there being a consequence for something you did wrong. You learn that owning up to our wrongdoing will foster a healthy and loving environment.
So where is the best place for your kids to learn these helpful life skills when it comes to consequences and actions? From you, the parent.
Consequences ARE good. But they can also be negative when not done in a healthy or functional way.
When consequences for kids don’t work
When we consider the act of giving a consequence, it’s important we align it with this–discipline to instruct and shepherd, not control.
Adults can sometimes unintentionally use their power or domination to make a child feel like they are not worthy of forgiveness or that what they did should make them feel ashamed.
It’s easy, in the heat of the moment, when your child talks back or throws a fit, to get frustrated and act off of your emotions. But that’s when the fine line you’re walking can quickly become a controlling or angry reaction, instead of a thought through action plan.
As no one is perfect, it’s our job as parents to apologize when we do make the mistake of acting off of our emotions and be willing to admit to our kids when we wrong them. It shows your child that you aren’t perfect; therefore, they don’t have to be. See more about the emotional needs of children in this post here.
It also shows your child that you are always learning and growing as a parent, and you will make mistakes just like them. Together you can have empathy for one another in your journey as a family.
It’s not a competition, and pride stifles love. So be ever so careful with the delicate and moldable hearts that God has given you.
Also check out – Example of a child emotionally reaching out (aka bad behavior)
Why consequences for kids are important
When it comes to discipline, the most crucial factor to remember is that God uses it for good in our lives, even as adults. Without consequences or discipline, we can easily get the idea that life will always go our way, and we don't need to take responsibility when we have wronged someone, or done something wrong.
As you instruct your child along their journey to understand how to "behave," it's vital that you include the important fact that they are imperfect, and that's OKAY.
Everyone makes mistakes, but their mistakes don't define them or make them any less worthy of God's love. Just as you are imperfect, so will they be.
For them, to understand the real and raw love that God has for them means that whatever they do or don't do, should never determine your love and acceptance for them.
This balance of discipline and giving consequences, again, is a very fragile thing. So as you're reading these ideas, make sure you filter them through so much love and understanding. ALWAYS, during discipline, make sure you bring your child close and tell them how much you love and admire them, mistakes and all.
Things to consider before you discipline or give consequences to kids
- It's always good to have a game plan when it comes to discipline. That means, you know ahead of time what the consequence will be, so you revert to that, instead of anger or frustration. When you have a game plan, you are less likely to get frustrated, and the faster you act in response to their behavior, the better.
- Make sure they have healthy influences in their life, especially when it comes to watching screens. This can heavily impact their behavior and mental health, so having a plan in place to make sure they aren't seeing things they shouldn't or having too much screen time, check out this software Bark - Designed to keep your kids safe online! Here is a short video explaining what it does and how it works.
- Make sure that you are fair in your consequences. Sometimes, at an appropriate age, you can invite them in on the consequence, and let them decide what it should be. That way, they understand that the consequence was brought on by them making a bad choice, instead of it being your fault as the parent.
- Explain to them the repercussion of their bad decision. We all make bad choices. But as we grow older, we begin to really understand the consequences of those bad choices. Kids don't really understand that yet, which is why having a consequence is an effective form of discipline, and the objective is that they will learn from it. But sometimes, we can assume that our kids will immediately understand why they are getting a consequence, when in reality, they need a little extra explanation.
- It's also important that you reward their good behavior. If they are showing kindness to their sibling, then reward them. Sometimes it's easy to only pay attention to when our kids do something wrong. But MORE than doing that, notice their kind and obedient behavior and make sure you acknowledge it.
Prepare your kids for the world they WILL grow up in, not for the one YOU want them to grow up in.Hillary Gruener - Author of Word from the Bird
Examples: Logical list of consequences for kids that work
1. Have a conversation about it
One thing that has worked wonders in our family, is when we have a heart to heart discussion about whatever happened. I get down to his level, hug him, and tell him I understand he's angry—that anger is a normal feeling.
Whatever he is going through—jealousy, for example—I make sure to explain to him what those thoughts will do to him if he doesn't let them go.
Sometimes, when our kids act out, it's because of something pretty profound. Sometimes it's just because they're a kid. But it never hurts to have a conversation about it, and not just deal with the behavior.
Most often, when I do this, I found that there was a deeper reason as to why my son was acting out.
Encourage them to journal about how they feel
If they don't feel like talking about it, a great way for them to better identify how they feel is by journaling. That's why we've created this incredible Printable Kid's Journal -- designed specifically for kids to help them better express their feelings, encourage gratitude, and spark creativity.
2. Time in
Instead of time out (which sends them away and isolates them) give them a time in. That means they sit somewhere in the same room as you, and give them an objective to think on.
You can say, "Hey, what you did was disobedient to the rules you know we have. Take a minute to think about what happened and how you could have made a better choice."
Then revisit it after they've had some time, and discuss what the better reaction could have been. Doing this will give them a clearer understanding of your expectations.
3. They need to fix or replace what they ruin or break
If you were specific about the rules of roughhousing, but your child did it anyway and something was broken, then they need to fix or replace it if they are at an appropriate age to do so.
But if it was an accident that happened as a result of them being a kid, then that's different. Don't punish them for spilling milk, as kids are clumsy, and that's normal. But if they were breaking the rules, then they need to take responsibility for their actions and replace what was broken.
4. Lose a privilege
Taking away a privilege can help a child understand that not everything goes their way, and also to be grateful for what they have. If they can't share their toy, then take it away for a day, so on and so forth.
5. Match the offense with the consequence
Let's say they told you they brushed their teeth before bed, but in actuality, they didn't. You need to make sure you address both the lying AND the disobedience.
You could say something like, "Since you don't want to brush your teeth, then I guess there are no more sweets until you can show that you can obey. If you don't brush your teeth, then your teeth will rot, and we will have to go to the dentist."
This helps them understand that natural consequences that occur when they don't brush their teeth. It's also important to address the fact that they lied to you.
Trust was broken in the relationship, so make them aware of that, and figure out a consequence that will help them see that lying is wrong.
6. Give them more chores
Giving your child chores is beneficial for them, even if it's not a consequence. It teaches them responsibility, and will, in the long run, help them to follow through on tasks.
When they disobey, this can be a great tool for discipline.
Check out this awesome magnetized chalk chore chart that will help your kids keep track of their chores.
If you're looking for something a bit less expensive, and something you can have immediately, check out my new Printable KIDALORIAN Mission/Chore Chart for kids. Parents can make chore time fun with a creative spin on the "doing chores" mentality.
7. Have them take responsibly for their actions
Let's say they said or did something hurtful to another kid on a play date. It's important that you encourage them to apologize and admit they’re wrong, so they learn about humility and treating others with kindness.
This is quite possibly the best thing that discipline teaches a child--that they won't always be perfect, and that's okay--as long as they can take responsibilty in honesty and love.
Don't shy away from disciplining your child just because by popular belief it's not the thing to do. When done properly, consequences will enable your children to have mental and emotional strength for a harsh and unforgiving world.
If we can't prepare our kids for this world, then they will be a product of a spoiled and "do whatever you want" mentallity that won't get them very far.
But it's with that we have to balance it with grace, love, and understanding. Parenting is more about balance than anything else.
Positive parenting tools for every parent
Screen Time Protection and Teaching Moderation
I've recently partnered with Bark, a software to supervise, manage, and protect your child's device use on the go. Use the code WORDBIRD at checkout to get an additional 1-month free trial after your first initial 7-day trial!
Screen Time Checklist Printable for Kids - FREE if you sign up for our weekly newsletter. Just fill out your info below.
Book List for Kids and Parents
Book list to teach kids about racial diversity.
Journaling for Kids
When a child is old enough to start drawing, coloring, or writing, journaling is an incredible way to help your kids better express themselves in a free and comfortable way. Check out our Kid's Printable Journals -- created specifically to help children better express their feelings, encourage gratitude, and spark the imagination.
Chores for Kids
Magnetized Chalk Chart for Fridge
Implementing chores and structure in your child's daily life is a VERY helpful tool to teach them follow through, discipline, and respect. We use this chore chart in our family to help our kids keep track of their own progress, and keep you from having to constantly remind them of their daily tasks.
If you're looking for something a bit more simple, this is also a good option.
Chore Chart Printable - Get it NOW from the convenience of your own printer
If you're looking for something you can print out immediately and start implementing chores in your home today, check out this CHORE CHART PRINTABLE. With a Mandalorian theme, it makes for a lighthearted and fun way to encourage kids to do their daily and weekly "missions."
Emotional Connectivity with Your Kids
Connecting on a deeper level emotionally with your child is CRUCIAL, and sometimes more difficult. We play THIS GAME often in our family to create a safe space for our kids to feel free to share their questions and emotions, all without judgment.
We even offer an "Exemption Time" for the duration of this game, where anything he tells us is off the table for consequences.
Check out these other posts on emotional connectivity on the blog!
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