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Raise Amazing Kids

Parents: Fix These Fatal Mistakes When Enforcing Consequences with Children

I’d like to give you some quick tips on threatening and enforcing consequences with your children.

No matter how good your parenting skills are, you’ll face plenty of times when toddlers and young children will misbehave. And you’ll need to enforce some kind of consequence.

Lots of people have emailed me asking how to get one child to stop hitting a sibling, to stop throwing food, or any other such punishable offense.

I want to keep this article short and sweet, but still deliver real valuable help to all of you So I’ll get right to the point.

Tip #1: When you need to threaten consequences, you must pick something that is realistic.

Let’s use the example of a child who is throwing food at the table. If you’ve warned him that this needs to stop, and it doesn’t, then you have to take action. You can’t keep asking him to stop or you’ll be teaching him that you are a talker, not an action taker.

If you’ve explained what the consequence of throwing food will be, you have to enforce it. And in order to do so, it needs to be realistic.

You can’t say to your child, “Johnny – if you do that ONE more time I’m going to cancel our trip to DisneyLand”

… or even worse, “You’ll have to stay home from DisneyLand all by yourself”.

Clearly these are not realistic threats, and depending on the age of your child he or she may actually realize this. But regardless, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where your child repeats the offense and calls your bluff.

If you make a threat and do not carry it out then your child learns this pattern. They learn that you are not going to follow through. Then you are in bigger trouble.

So – make your threats realistic and then enforce them when you have to.

Tip #2: Establish consequences that are logically related to the offensive behavior.

If Johnny is throwing food, a logical consequence would be that dinner time is over for him. If you can’t behave at the table, you don’t eat at the table. If you can’t behave around food, you don’t eat the food. This may sound harsh to some, but no child will allow himself to go hungry for very long. Instead, they’ll fall into line and realize that you mean business.

Most other consequences (for throwing food) won’t be logically connected to the bad behavior. Cancelling a play date, or taking away iPad or TV privileges, for example, are not connected to the problem of throwing food. So the consequence will seem unfair, and will actually prevent the child from learning anything!

Tip #3: Be unemotional when enforcing consequences.

If you get all upset and emotional, you will come across as weak and whiny. These are the same characteristics you don’t want your children to have, right? So don’t model bad behaviours yourself!

If Johnny is throwing food you don’t want to whine at him, “Johnny, I really Haaaaate it when you do that. Stoooop it. You’re getting food all over my clean floooooor!”

When kids hear their parents whining about behavior, they model this behavior and feed it back to you.

The better alternative is to be matter of fact. Be crisp. Be unemotional. After all you’re just laying out the consequence. You’re the police man informing a driver he was speeding, and now has a fine to pay.

“Johnny – I see you’ve chosen to keep throwing food. That’s not acceptable. Dinner is over for you. You may go do something else now. I hope you make a better decision at the next meal.”

You don’t need to scream at your children when you state rules and enforce them through consequences. You simply need to make them aware, in an unemotional way, that their behavior led to a certain outcome (consequence / punishment). That is your entire goal.

Customers who have purchased my audio course, “Talking To Toddlers” have also learned how to to introduce a consequence such that the child is much less likely to repeat the offense.

We accomplish this by making the punishment feel very vivid and real in the child’s mind. We do this in a very caring and compassionate way and it WORKS.

Enjoy your children,
Chris Thompson