Many parents seem to get stuck in removal consequence mode when trying to set limits with their children.
Every person on this earth has consequences depending on the choices they make. If I choose to run a red light and cause a car accident, I have to suffer the consequences of that choice. In a worst-case scenario it could mean death.
It is important to link the power of the choice to the consequence when teaching children about their behavior. That is how they learn to make the right choices in life.
There are many different types of consequences. Of course there is the natural consequence. If a child is playing to roughly with the cat, the cat might scratch the child. That is the purest example of a natural consequence.
Then there is the logical consequence. The child is having a play date with another child. The first child hits the other child over the head with a toy. The parent comes in and takes the toy away from the child. That is an example of a logical consequence.
Then there is a removal consequence.
Examples of that might be the loss of a video game, cell phone, computer time, time with friends, the privilege of driving a car, and so many more.
It is taking away something of importance to another person. This is the consequence that parents tend to fall into using too much.
Overuse of this consequence type can lead to increased resentment which of course can lead to increased inappropriate behavior.
The action consequence is often underused. What action refers to is having the child engage in some activity. For example a parent may want their child to go write to them about why they would be concerned about that behavior. It causes the child to think and process and often that can lead to a more positive resolution.
Another action might be having to do more chores around the home or yard work to help the family.
Lastly, there is a consequence I refer to as generic. Sometimes it just doesn’t work to have a logical, natural, removal or action consequence. A good example of the generic consequence would be something like an early bedtime. It is not linked to any offense or anything like that but it is offered as a consequence when the child needs to decide whether to continue to engage in a negative behavior.
As a parent it is so important to regularly reevaluate the consequences and limit setting practices that are being used to ensure they are appropriate and effective.
I believe in a four step process to set an effective limit with a child, with the last step being the child has to decide what they are going to do; engage in this behavior with this consequence or engage in that behavior with that consequence. If a parent has truly followed all four steps, it will lead to effectively teaching your child behavior from within.
image from: http://darryd.com/Photo-Quotes/Choice_Consequence_by_Darry_D.jpg